When I was a teenager I taught myself how to play the guitar, my father was a huge music fan having been brought up in 1960’s UK experiencing the global cultural change of that era. Music was a great influencer and political tool: bands such as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who all engaged their audiences. One song and artist that sticks with me is Jimi Hendrix: particularly his rendition of The Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock – the theatrics, the interpretation of a national anthem….legendary!

All this had a huge impact on me growing up and this experience enhanced when I could actually play the riffs from these songs – a real experience!

Now you are reading this and thinking… how does this relate to employee engagement?

Well – here comes the segue:

The term employee engagement is a term we all know, the vast majority of us have participated in these surveys. I clicked on to Linked in this morning and 3 articles were around this topic from some of the world’s biggest providers and from Forbes. It is everywhere so must be important!

However, when you explore this area further, do we really know what we are talking about?

There are so many theories and advice offered: one article stated that engagement is a holistic aspect, it relates to wellbeing – for an employee to be truly engaged with their organisation, the employee needs an altruistic connection with the organisation they work for.

The other provider is holding an Engagement award where there are ‘winners’… and I guess losers (although these were not mentioned…)

The winners were ‘chosen’ based on the largest percentage of positive responses to just two questions:

  1. I feel proud to work for the company.
  2. I would recommend the company as a good place to work.

To calculate the winners, the percentage of employees who ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ with the two statements to create an overall score.

I am sure you will agree that these are two very contrasting views.

The first is where engagement needs to be holistic and measure wellbeing, and other areas of the workplace to gain the full picture.

The other measures just 2 questions (and only the positive sentiment from these questions)

So, which one is correct?

I am not or do not pretend to be the global expert in this, but I am happy to share my experience in talking to our customers: we deploy surveys across a diverse range of clients.

Here are some pointers and thoughts to consider the next time you consider a provider to get the all-important ‘engagement’ data:

  1. Does it have to be called an engagement survey? Tailor it to your organisation: Insights Poll, Health check, Employee Experience… get creative and get away from the word engagement but make it engaging!
  2. Communicate – Leaders (and I mean Board’s, Directors, CEO’s) need to be pushing the process and be part of the communications. Human Resources can run it, but the results impact the business; therefore, business leaders need to be part of the process and part of the results review. This comes from the top and tells The Why, The How, What is going to happen with the results by when: get your marketing and communications people on it as a project – get creative!
  3.  Celebrate the good! When you get the results of the survey there will be some good stuff, but there will be some negatives – it is important to celebrate the good and think of some simple, clear actions to move the bad into a better place
  4. Feedback! Feedback to the people who took the time to answer the questions!
  5.  Do something with the data – and quickly!
  6.  Talk to people! Break the data down to team levels – talk and make some corrective actions
  7.  Measure again – data is relevant for only a short period of time – things change so you need to continue to measure regularly (not every 2 years!)

I have seen employee polls and results from it being a ‘tick box’ exercise because compliance needs the data every two years to be in line with “Best Practice”: to organisations who incorporate the data into quarterly KPI’s to help increase business productivity…

Which one would you find more useful?

If the latter option is best for you then it may be time to challenge the traditional methodology to gain real-time data across important aspects that are affecting your business right now!

The biggest bit of advice I can give you is to give your employees an experience…not just a survey link where nothing happens. Give them Jimi!

Stephen Cushion – General Manager, Consulting

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