I am often asked to come in to help organizations move the needle on employee engagement. This usually happens shortly after their annual employee engagement survey, or some type of feedback from Associates.
My typical approach is to interview the executives, review the survey scores and then interview a random sample of the Associates.
What I continue to learn from this process:
- There is a lot of value in the insights that employee engagement surveys provide.
- Leaders at various levels can learn what is working well and what needs attention.
- Engagement scores usually say a lot more about individual managers than they do about “the company” in general.
- Engagement surveys without strong follow up and action plans are pretty useless and will likely produce results counter to their intended purpose.
- Engagement scores without accountability for action will seldom produce the kinds of improvement most companies hope for.
- Accountability for action means that insistence on action is tied to something meaningful to the manager, usually their bonus or merit increase, simply because they have too many things on their plates to shift their priorities without solid justification or motivation.
- This tells the manager that we believe in the truth of point #2 and ask that they do something about their scores.
- Engagement surveys implemented without training managers how to respond to them are a recipe for disaster.
- Too often managers don’t know how to receive the survey feedback and become too defensive in their discussions with their employees to turn this into a positive experience.
- Employee surveys are one-dimensional and can create an unintended sense of entitlement where employees feel free to complain and ask the company for more without giving any thought to their own commitment to engagement.
- By the way, it is actually possible to administer a reverse survey that steps up employee ownership for their engagement, commitment, attitudes and actions.
- Employees tend to be much more engaged than the surveys indicate.
- Most indicate that they will still be with their company a year from now.
- Most are thrilled they have a job in their company.
- Most are still inviting their friends and families to work along side them.
- Most are ready and willing, if asked, to offer suggestions for how the company can improve. However, most employees don’t feel that their manager will ask for their suggestions, or welcome their honesty of they do ask.
Before your next engagement survey, think about how you can use the information to truly move the needle on leadership development and employee engagement within your organization.