The term “Employee engagement” has been buzzing around in the business world for at least two decades now. Employee engagement, in a nutshell, is the level of emotional connect or investment an employee feels towards the organization.
It is often difficult to interpret a concept until and unless it is quantified. The same holds true for employee engagement. With that very thought, probably, Employee engagement survey, a very crucial category of employee survey came into play.
By the early 1990s, HR professionals started realizing that being “satisfied” or “happy” in the workplace is not enough to unlock the maximum potential of the employees.
Understanding the attitude of employees at a deeper level became increasingly important.
Employers needed a way to get inside the minds and hearts of their employees to know how they were feeling about the company and how committed are they towards the fulfilment of company goals. And with that purpose, employee engagement surveys became an integral part of organizational culture.
Traditionally these were long-form surveys conducted annually that consisted of at least 50 questions prevailing to various major concerns of the company.
Although running surveys soon became a regular event for a large number of companies, there was a huge disconnect between employee engagement efforts and survey results.
It often took companies months to build the questionnaire and run the survey. Again analysing the results and implementing changes took another couple of months.
Naturally, there was a significant gap in the timeline between employee needs and acting on those.
Employee Engagement Survey: Where are we now?
Employee engagement surveys have come a long way since then.
From long-form paper-based annual surveys, it evolved to shorter and frequent online surveys. The most common form being Pulse Surveys.
An employee pulse survey is a fast and frequent survey system designed to be done quarterly, monthly or even weekly. Through the survey, employees are generally asked a few complex questions and the same questions are repeated over a fixed period of time to track the progress.
In the past 5 years, pulse surveys have gained much-deserved popularity in the employee engagement space. They are effectively helping companies in creating a culture of continuous improvement in the workplace.
Josh Bersin, founder of Bersin by Deloitte and one of world’s leading researcher and advisor in talent management and HR technology wrote about Employee engagement survey 3.0 in one of his recent articles.
According to him, Employee engagement surveys are transforming from real-time feedback systems to even more proactive surveys aided by Artificial Intelligence. The system will use intelligent Nudges to help organizations in developing rules, hints, tips and suggestions to build a more employee-oriented workplace.
While implementing the Nudge system is still in the future, you can still make the most out of your regular online surveys. And in this article, I’ll try to help you with all the major queries you might have before running a survey.
Importance of Employee Engagement Surveys
Let’s take a quick look on the role of employee engagement surveys in an organization:
Surveys make sure that employee engagement is the top priority in your organization. They are the best way to make sure that employees are in an emotionally secure work environment.
Employee engagement surveys are the best way to track improvement within the organization and benchmark employee engagement within the industry.
Conducting Survey is the only way to quantify or measure employee engagement efforts of the organization.
It nurtures a culture of continuous employee feedback.
Employee engagement surveys are the cornerstone of cultivating a company culture that focuses on employee autonomy, employee satisfaction and loyalty.
Components of an Employee Engagement Survey
We can not leave at the statement that employee engagement is a complex concept. Employee engagement, by all means, needs to be explored and understood by every organization. So what do you actually measure in an employee engagement survey?
What are the components you must not miss in your next survey?
Employee engagement surveys should have a mandatory employee engagement index section. In this section question pertaining to the overall engagement, the company culture, likeliness of recommending the company to others, for how long does employees feel committed to the organization and similar questions should be asked. This section is a very important one because it gives you the current status of your efforts and leads you towards the top concerns of the company.
Presenting 8 top components that you must evaluate in your engagement survey:
Communication within the organization is a criterion that you must always keep in check. Are your employees having a healthy horizontal and vertical communication? By horizontal communication I mean, is there a healthy peer communication in the organization? Do your employees have good communication with upper management? Is there an imbalance between conveying the message to your employees and listening to them? Uncovering all these primary concerns and measuring the effectiveness of internal communication should be a primary objective of the survey.
Next thing that you must uncover is the leadership style in your organization. Research by Gallup shows that managers account for 70 per cent of the difference in employee engagement scores.
Leaders should be able to convey the company goals and values to the employees. They are ones that can make sure that individuals personal goals are alligned with the company goals.
So, naturally, leaders play a huge role when it comes to making employees feel inclusive, motivated and loyal to the organization. Understanding this aspect is extremely crucial for your employee engagement efforts.
Compensation and Benefits
With the rise in the number of companies and economic stability becoming a reality, the talent acquisition and retention scenario has changed massively. Companies are now competing among one another to attract the best talent and not the other way round. Offering attractive employee perks and privileges has become an important part of the equation.
After all, who doesn't like to receive compensation over and above their hard-earned salary?
You can ask questions in your survey to evaluate your company's compensation and benefits package. You can also use it as means to identify the popular and top-seeking benefits among your workforce.
People may take a job for more money, but they often leave it for more recognition.~ Bob Nelson.
Human beings have an inherent desire to feel valued and be appreciated. Recognition at work matters even more because when your employees feel recognized for their good work and attitude at work, they feel motivated. It also directly reflects in their performance level. Understanding if your employees are feeling duly recognized for their conduct, hard work and accomplishments is an important factor for the cumulative measure of employee engagement level in your organization.
Your employees are spending a large amount of time in the workplace. If the work environment is not health-friendly, naturally, the wellness of your employees will be compensated. What your employees feel about the company’s wellness initiative will offer management with useful insights in building a more health-focused culture. In this section, you can include questions ranging from Office canteen, corporate wellness program, gym membership, stress-inducing elements in the workplace etc.
Personal and Professional Development
47% of higher educated workers said a limited career path could get them to leave a job. (Randstad)
For the longest time, corporations neglected the fact that employees seek a progressive career trajectory. The personal and professional development of an individual in their current job role is important to keep them engaged and motivated. The Employee engagement survey must not miss out on this point and explore areas in which they are lacking. This section can also help management in the planning of their employee training programs and keeping a check on their technological forwardness.
This one is a no-brainer. While it might take some time in implementing certain changes like building better Rewards and Recognition program, making changes to the physical environment can be done easily. Your employees might be facing certain small and big issues relating to comfort or availability of basic amenities in the workplace. Certain minor problems when goes on unattended for a longer period of time may lead to disengagement. Employee engagement surveys must uncover these areas.
The need for work-life balance cannot be overstressed. With millennials and Generation Z slowly taking over the workplace, work-life balance is now a top seeking criterion. To understand your employees' expectations from the organization for making their work and life more balanced, you must ask questions. You might want to add questions with the aim to understand their inclination towards work-from-home policies, flexible office timing options, paid vacations and so on. Also, employee engagement surveys offer a great way to gain an idea of their current degree of work-life balance.
Implementation of Employee Engagement Survey
If you’ve reached this section, you must be quite serious about running this survey in your organization. I highly recommend you to read my blog “ A Beginner’s Guide to Conducting Employee Surveys” where I discuss the steps of running Employee Surveys in great detail.
While running all employee surveys follow a similar pathway, here are few additional tips you should keep in mind while running this particular survey:
- Only run a survey when the management and leaders are committed to making changes in your organizational culture. There cannot be a bigger mistake than running a survey, gaining the results and not doing anything about it.
So, before you rush towards running your first survey or conducting a timely survey ritual make sure you have an action strategy in mind. You must accept the flaws and take necessary measures.
- Take an expert’s opinion. While the management of an organization is most aware of the happening in the office, curating a questionnaire is a whole different ball game. At this stage, it is advisable to take professional help.
Moreover, you want the ability to benchmark your results with other companies in your industry. When you opt for an external survey provider, they offer valuable benchmark data and a standard set of questions asked across the industry. It also becomes easier to ensure confidentiality.
Be specific and very clear with the questions. Don’t confuse the respondents with vague questions or unnecessary jargoons. Keep the survey short and relevant.
A common query among management is when to run the surveys? And how often? There is no one-word answer for the same. The aim of employee engagement surveys is cultivating a culture of continuous improvement in the organization. And the cycle of improvement is never never-ending.
Engagement surveys should be run frequently and should become an indispensable part of company culture.