SurveyMonkey Enters the Employee Engagement Market

SurveyMonkey Enters the Employee Engagement Market

The online survey development SurveyMonkey has launched a new tool for employers called SurveyMonkey Engage, which (you guessed it) surveys employees about their engagement, job satisfaction, future plans, and other talent dynamics. Phil Albinus reports at Employee Benefit News that the platform collects anonymous survey responses, analyzes them, and displays them in a dashboard for HR directors and senior executives to review:

The first Engage poll, called a “core survey,” is 15 questions plus a few questions that require comments, which the company says takes only five minutes to complete. Employees have two weeks to fill out the survey before the polling is closed.

After the first survey, Engage begins a monthly follow-up survey of three to five questions to create what it calls a “check in.” This “conversational cadence” allows SurveyMonkey to poll employees for their opinions on their employer’s workplace, connection with their job, work matters and more. Every six months, employees take another core survey that resembles the first survey to “establish the baseline of employee engagement.” The company just released a new question bank to add additional questions to the check-in surveys if they desire.

SurveyMonkey is only the latest polling company to get in the engagement survey game: Gallup, for example, has been offering employee engagement services for years. With business leaders more focused than ever on capturing the value of talent analytics, these third-party services are likely to proliferate further in the coming years.

At the same time, however, surveys don’t always capture as much as leaders would like about what employees are really thinking and how they are really feeling. It’s widely understood now that an annual survey is an inadequate tool for understanding engagement and culture in a fast-changing work environment, which is why SurveyMonkey’s model includes monthly pulse surveys, but even more frequent feedback only goes so far as the organization collecting it can trust it and knows what to do with it. For example, if employees don’t feel like they can be honest in a survey, even anonymously, the data that survey produces won’t be reliable, whereas if HR is too focused on abstract benchmarks or lacks clarity on what engagement metrics really matter to the outcomes the organization are pursuing, it won’t be useful.

This is not to comment on the quality of SurveyMonkey’s new tool, but merely to caution against relying too heavily on new models or technologies to improve the collection of engagement data. Our research at CEB, now Gartner, has found that most engagement leaders consider the wide range of models out there more similar than different. Also, while data quality and credibility are key barriers to implementing effective talent analytics, the barrier is not technological: Building better relationships within the HR function and across the organization is twice as effective at improving the quality of a talent analytics program than investing in new technology.

Some organizations are even looking beyond surveys to get a clearer view into employees’ real experiences. Inspired by the consumer marketing concept of social listening, for example, Unilever combines employees’ internally-posted public comments and global commentary on firm-relevant issues with anonymous freeform survey responses to produce a more complete picture not only of employee engagement, but of the company’s culture.

CEB Corporate Leadership Council members can read our case study on Unilever’s cultural listening program, which is just one of many insights generated in our recent work on organizational culture. Members can also access a range of research and tools to help them better measure employee engagement in ways that align with real business needs.