Is your Employee Engagement Survey like a Broken Pencil? by Shea Heaver

Without timely and tangible action, an employee survey, suggestion box or other (so-called) engagement undertaking is ...

... pointless.

In fact, you could very easily put forward the idea that asking employees to provide input without them seeing speedy and credible effort can actually be detrimental to an organization.

"Do you trust me?"

There is no point just talking a good game if the workforce has come to expect that nothing ever comes of the process. The employees will continue to roll their eyes and (at best) provide canned or less-thoughtful feedback when it is time for the survey.

They will murmur among themselves "why do we even bother with this?" and become further disengaged.

If challenged on it, they may answer along the lines of "Don't ask for my opinions and get mad or ignore them when I tell you the truth"

Thus, the circle of hostility and mistrust continues.

"Good things come to those who wait."......yeah, right!

A common symptom of big-data surveys is Analysis Paralysis. When all the metrics and subjective feedback is handed over to (i.e. dumped on) a task force, there is naturally a lot of time and effort spent sifting through it in hopes of unearthing an optimal outcome.

This can frequently take months before the company is ready to issue their cringe-worthy 'You spoke we listened' announcement. And when that message is delivered, many employees will be thinking "huh, our department didn't ask for that" or "I don't remember anything about that in the survey"

Most of us probably don't remember what we had for lunch just last a few days ago, never mind a survey question from 6 months ago. It is therefore key to begin addressing areas of concern or potential improvement as quickly as possible.

"When can you start?"

This is a typical question in many of life's circumstances; job interview, getting your car fixed, negotiating house improvements, your boss asking about your next project...and so on.

The same urgency needs to be an integral part of the Employee Engagement process. The easiest way to accomplish this by delegating to people who are ready and eager - those who have just taken the survey.

Today's employee is used to an agile attitude in and out of work. In work, they can take on various job functions and be asked to change direction at any time as conditions dictate. And at home, we are all socially-savvy to the point of expressing our opinions on almost any topic online or reacting to something at the 'ding' of a tweet, text or email.

Set the wheels in motion quickly by empowering the staff to work at the local level as soon as they have taken the survey.

"An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory."

We are all acutely aware that you cannot think yourself faster, thinner or more artistic. Endless reading about the latest in running shoe technology, what diets are currently trending or what's a must-see at the Louvre will not accomplish your goals.

The engagement building process is the same.

It must be transformational rather than just informational.

By establishing a schedule of attainable goals and then working (individually and with your team) to accomplish these through activities, efforts and good old-fashioned conviction, amazing things can happen.

The changes in workplace culture and engagement at the local level will be very visible and an integral part of holistic improvement throughout the organization...

When people actually see changes at the higher level and are driving the changes within their own domain, they become even more enthused to keep the momentum going.

Believe it or not, they will likely sharpen that pencil so they can take another survey, see where they have improved and determined the next set of issues they are going to solve.


The Business Transformation Network has posted this article in partnership with Optimawork.


Shea Heaver was born in England but grew up, was educated and started his career in Northern Ireland before moving to South Florida in the mid-1990s.

Drawing on his years of management experience in the global IT field, he became a passionate promoter of a people-centric culture to improve organizational performance.  Through his work in the US, Canada, Europe, Asia, etc... he increasingly realized that individuals who feel valued lead to teams that are motivated, innovative and highly productive.

He founded OptimaWork, with a focus on helping organizations achieve higher Employee Engagement, improve Leadership, increase Job Satisfaction and build better Workplace Relationships.