Employee Engagement Surveys:
What Are Your Employees Thinking and Do You Really Care?

As an employer, you will no doubt want your employees to enjoy working in your organisation and not just turn up every day because they are paid to, but how do you know what they genuinely think about working for you if you don’t ask them?

Published Categorised as HR Best Practice, Managing People Tagged
2017-05-16 - Employee Engagement Surveys - Lighter HR
2017-05-16 - Employee Engagement Surveys - Lighter HR

As an employer, you will no doubt want your employees to enjoy working in your organisation. You won’t want them to just turn up every day because they are paid to. However, do you know what they genuinely think about working for you if you don’t ask them?

You may well have heard the term ‘employee engagement’. This how employees feel about working at an organisation and how that impacts on their behaviours at work and their desire to continue working there. There have been many surveys of leaders of various sized organisations over the years, both nationally and globally, that have highlighted a need to look at the levels of employee engagement within organisations, as this engagement has been linked to employee turnover rates and as having an impact on overall business performance.

There are lots of different ways to measure engagement. In this week’s blog we thought we would give you a quick overview of the pros and cons of two types of employee engagement survey.

1. Annual Employee Engagement Surveys

An Annual Employee Engagement Survey is a very detailed survey. They are typically run once a year. The survey gives a company the opportunity to ask a lot of detailed questions about every aspect of work life.

These surveys tend to be structured as multiple questions broken down into different categories. Examples can be pay & benefits, welfare, job satisfaction etc.

There are a whole host of providers out there that can assist you with running the survey (paper or online). They can help you with sample questions and most importantly, analyse the results.

By running a survey of this depth, it shows employees that you are interested in their views. They in turn feel appreciated and feel that they have a say in how the company is being run.

You can gain some real insight into what matters to your employees. With this information you can ensure that company initiatives are focused on fixing the right problems.

2. What are the Downsides of Annual Employee Engagement Surveys?

As these are more involved and generally include many questions, annual surveys can take a fair amount of time to prepare, run and analyse. If you choose to use a survey provider there will, of course, be a cost involved. Depending on how involved they get, this can be hundreds or thousands of pounds.

To ensure you get a genuine and honest response, you should try to ensure the survey is anonymous and you may find your data may not be totally accurate if you make the process ‘compulsory’. To that end, even with annual surveys, you can’t guarantee you’ll get a 100% response rate from which you can get an entirely complete picture of how engaged everyone is in the organisation.

Another downside of an annual survey is that you will be going for 12 full months (possibly more by the time you have run and analysed each survey) without knowing whether the things that you are doing are working. You could have implemented a raft of initiatives as a response to one survey and you’ll need to wait a full year before you know whether they are having the desired impact.

Now, this time lapse could be a positive thing. You do have a significant enough period of time to implement changes and allow them to bed in and deliver results before you re-assess. But a good approach can be to combine an annual survey with pulse surveys (see below). This will give you continuous feedback on how things are going.

3. Pulse Surveys

An employee pulse survey is a quick and regular survey. It involves short and simple questions and is designed to be done weekly, or every few weeks. They give a quick insight into the health of a company, hence the name ‘pulse’.

As these are short surveys, the time needed to prepare them will generally be less than for an annual survey. Pulse surveys encourage regular communication between you and your employees. They should also contribute to developing a culture of honest feedback, whilst also offering feedback on how your current HR Strategy is being received.

They are fairly easy to run so you’re less likely need the assistance of an external organisation. You can therefore be flexible on the questions you ask throughout the year. You can tailor the questions depending on what is important to you at that time.

4. Taking Your Finger Off the Pulse

Once you start with pulse surveys, you need to keep going. You need either have a series of questions that you will run through over the course of the year or decide on the same questions to ask each time.

You will need someone to take ownership of these surveys to ensure they do go out regularly. Because pulse surveys go out so frequently then you can find that response rates go through peaks and troughs across the year. Don’t get despondent if you see a dip!

5. Digesting the Data from Engagement Surveys

You need to be prepared to do something with the information you collect from any survey. You also need to think carefully about the questions you ask.

Employee Engagement Surveys give employees a voice and really contribute to making them feel valued. However, if you then ignore what they have to say then you can end up doing more harm than good.

It’s also important to set expectations with your employees regarding what will happen with the information you gather. How will you feed the results back to them, as an example?

Engagement may be an overused term but it has a key role to play in the working life of all organisations. Unless you prefer the dictatorial approach, it is well worth utilising the information you have available to you (your employees’ opinions) to help direct your efforts in making changes to how your working practices, benefits and culture impact on your employees’ work satisfaction.

It is sometimes overlooked, but in most organisations employees have a direct impact on the bottom line. If they are happy at work they should by default be more efficient and productive. It’s a bit of a no brainer really.

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