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.
It is not news that digitalization is forcing organizations to change faster than ever, and that organizational cultures need to equip employees to keep up with the pace of change. In fact, the average organization spends $2,212 per employee per year on culture management, and 82 percent of HR business partners say culture is very important to accomplishing their organizations’ strategies. To address these issues, a group of 57 innovative HRBPs, HR generalists, and other strategic HR professionals gathered with CEB, now Gartner, in New York on November 2 to discuss how to use best practices in culture management to arm their organizations for the digital age.
Our latest research on culture looks at the traditional strategies organizations use to manage organizational culture, what works well, and how organizations can shift their approaches to get cultures that drive business performance. This means throwing out the traditional people-focused playbook on culture management in favor of our research-backed, process-focused strategy. CEB Corporate Leadership Council members can see more insights from our culture study in the latest issue of CHRO Quarterly magazine.
Thursday’s meeting was a fantastic opportunity to learn how different organizations are enacting the key teachings of our culture research, through steps such as:
- Engaging employees to gather unfiltered feedback.
- Teaching employees to navigate culture barriers.
- Redesigning processes to support the culture.
Here are some of the ideas HR practitioners shared and discussed in our New York gathering last week:
Moving From Annual to Daily Culture Measurement
One organization shared that they moved from measuring culture once a year to asking employees daily culture questions as they logged into their workstations. The results are available to managers in real time as long as four people on their teams participate on a given day. Leaders then have the autonomy to decide how they will use the daily feedback, but based on our research, they will now consider empowering employees to be the ones who take action.
The way we measure employee engagement is at a crossroads. Annual surveys are increasingly considered far too slow and one-directional to meet the constantly shifting needs of business. Pulse surveys—typically focused on mood (e.g., Are you happy or sad?)—have emerged to increase the pace of feedback, but they often leave organizations wondering exactly why engagement moved up or down.
Some organizations are starting to move beyond survey measurement to more behavioral indicators of engagement using HRIS (human resource information system) data or social media. KPMG, for instance, recently revealed that it was looking to get rid of surveys and find a better alternative:
“The lead partner of KPMG’s global HR transformation centre of excellence, Robert Bolton, said the professional services firm, which employs 162,000 in cities all over the globe, will strive to swap employee engagement surveys for a more robust diagnostic that focuses on “something truly worth measuring”.
“This term engagement is abused, it’s misunderstood, it’s not evidence based, and it’s a minefield,” Bolton said.
Any employee engagement program, survey-based or otherwise, is based on a model. The employee engagement model ideally should provide you with outputs (the engaged, productive employee) and inputs (the things that improve engagement). There’s a lot of them (way, way too many, in fact), from Gallup’s Q12 to CEB’s own ClearAdvantage Model.
There are also different ways of thinking about an ideal model. Industrial and organizational psychologists tend to focus on construct validity: i.e., determining whether the thing we are measuring is actually “engagement.” Business and consulting types tend to focus more on whether the model actually influences some kind of business outcome. As one business leader, disappointed with their organization’s survey, put it to me: “What I want is a practical business tool.”
The annual employee feedback survey is having an existential crisis. In a recent post at Workforce, Andie Burjek talked to some experts who believe it has outlived its usefulness:
The annual survey, still a popular option for eliciting feedback, provides only a one-directional flow of information. In an annual survey, a company develops the questions and the answers from which to select, and the process doesn’t promote dialogue, [Waggl Inc. CEO Michael Papay said]. Many companies fall in this trap of seeing the survey purely as a metric and not using the data in the right way, said Adam Pressman, global director of client partnership at Sirota Consulting.
“This results in a focus on the ‘engagement score’ and the benchmarks around that score vs. a real focus on understanding the story behind the data and the insights that can lead to positive change,” he said.
Annual surveys are a key part of most organizations’ workforce management strategies. They are used to help predict and prevent turnover and performance problems, and to diagnose cultural issues. Ultimately, though, one of the most enduring reasons for conducting the annual survey—and one often neglected in the conversation about whether to get rid of it—is to allow employees to provide some honest feedback to senior executives and for senior executives to show they care about employees.