Many organisations are already conducting Employee Surveys every 12-24 months in order to gain feedback from Employees.  They are commonly referred to as Engagement or Culture surveys, and are often relatively lengthy.

When used correctly, they can be great.   With incorrect use, they can send an organisation into a tail-spin even Maverick (think Top Gun) couldn’t recover from.  Here’s why… survey

1. Incorrect interpretation of results

Here’s the thing about surveys – they can only reveal so much information about ‘why’.  Science knows that our behaviour is driven by our emotions, and emotions are often triggered by unconscious processes.   Online quantitative surveys tap into the rational ‘thinking’ part of a person’s brain, but aren’t all that good at tapping into why a person thinks or behaves the way they do (or did).  We are masters at post-rationalising everything we do.  For this reason, online surveys by themselves can only provide limited insight.  Qualitative ‘deep-dive’ discussions are necessary to fully understand the data, but are often not conducted properly or at all.  This results in decision-making based on poor insight.  Poor decisions kill organisations.

2. Measuring too many things

Let’s face it, most surveys are pretty boring.  And in today’s ‘instantly gratify me or I’m gone’ world, holding anyone’s attention for more than a few minutes is difficult.  However, because Employee Surveys are conducted with large chunks of time in between, the temptation is to ask too many questions.  The rationale is often something like “let’s ask them as much as we can while we have their attention”.   The problem of course is that for every survey question asked, an employee will feel their opinion is going to be heard, and acted on.  With too much data to properly act on, most organisations tend to do nothing with the results.   This type of paralysis can kill an organisation. 

 3. Not measuring the things that really matter

Given that surveys need to remain short, an organisation should prioritise measuring those things that are most important, rather than simply measuring against standard benchmarks provided by survey companies.  Measure only those things that the organisation truly values.  There is no requirement to ask 50+ questions in order to determine if the organisation is on track to achieve its goals, and is adhering to its Values.   Focusing attention on things that don’t matter can kill an organisation.

To ensure your organisation is in the best position to respond to market conditions and meet its objectives, spend less money on ‘killer’ quantitative surveys and more effort on Deep Dive ‘qualitative’ conversations.

Jason Buchanan – General Manager; Insights & Innovation

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *