Employee Surveys

Why the Annual Employee Engagement Survey is Dead

Employees are more empowered than ever. They favour a great workplace culture, training opportunities and career advancement over a hefty paycheck. This also means if their needs aren’t being met, they’ll actively seek a workplace that offers them what they need. So how can employers ensure they’re cultivating an environment where their staff feel valued, engaged, and appreciated?

By asking them if they feel valued, engaged, and appreciated, of course! Asking for employee feedback and gauging how they feel about their role and the company is the best way to gain insight. Employees who believe that management is concerned about them and their needs are likely to feel more fulfilled and satisfied at work. Annual engagement surveys have been the standard feedback collection tool since the 70’s, but forward-thinking HR leaders are now beginning to boycott the once a year survey in favour of more innovative solutions.

Annual Engagement Surveys

Why are annual engagement surveys no longer relevant? Well, first of all, they’re annual – which is nowhere near often enough to check in with your employees. A lot can happen in the space of a few months or even weeks in business. Most of us struggle to remember what we ate for lunch last week let alone what happened at the office 12 months ago.

The truth is though, restructures, resignations and evolving projects all have an impact on your employees and how they feel about work. Even if you survey your employees every 6 months, too much can happen between each survey to truly capture how your employees feel about their work and company culture.

Running an annual survey in a large organization is also a huge task for HR. On the one hand, you’ve got an entire year’s worth of data to capture, and on the other, a global workforce with hundreds of employees. Capturing an entire year’s feedback also means that the survey is likely to be long and full of detailed questions, which can be off-putting for busy employees.

But what if every employee within a company does complete the entire survey? That’s an enormous amount of feedback for a large company to collate and analyze. It’s often too much information than HR know what to do with, and the result may be that no action is taken. When survey insights aren’t turned into action, employees can doubt the motives of their managers and feel less engaged than ever.

So, what’s the solution?

Take their Pulse

Whilst the annual engagement survey has quickly become outdated, employee feedback is still crucial for organizations wanting to succeed in the employee engagement space. According to Aberdeen research, businesses that measure engagement are 24% more likely to have highly engaged employees. This makes pulse surveys a convenient and fresh approach to gaining employee feedback. The pulse survey is a short, targeted survey designed to ‘take the pulse’ of your organization regularly, rather than waiting for feedback once a year.

Ranging from 1 to 10 questions, this survey tool benefits both the employer and employee. It requires less time and effort to distribute and respond to, and produces higher response rates. The beauty of these short surveys are that they can be sent daily, weekly or monthly, and results are completely anonymous.

The key is asking the right questions. Relevant, topical questions such as, “How valuable did you find this morning’s meeting? or, “How happy were you at work this week?” can do wonders for employee engagement. Employees will feel like their voice matters and employers can gauge how satisfied their staff are at work. Asking for immediate feedback will also lead to higher response rates, as their thoughts and feelings about a particular situation will be top of mind. Fewer survey questions also means less agonizing over data, which can and should result in faster action.

Listen, Communicate and Take Action

One way to lose your employees’ trust is by asking for their feedback and then ignoring it. According to research by Glassdoor, only 26% of employees agree that their employer listens and responds well to them. Your employees want to know that their feedback is meaningful and has the power to create change. So if they’re taking the time to complete a survey, it’s important that you, as an employer, act on the survey results. Let’s say the majority of your employees are unhappy with a regular 8:00am Monday morning meeting, the company can then take that feedback on board and immediately propose an alternative time that suits everyone’s schedules. Win-win!

Communicating survey results with your employees and justifying business decisions can also help build relationships, trust and engagement which in turn, can improve employee engagement and satisfaction. People want to know what’s going on and how decisions will affect them. Regular communication and transparency is therefore crucial and can also prevent your employees from leaving your company.

Companies can also benefit financially from engaging their staff, with research showing that companies with a formal employee engagement program achieve a 26% greater year-over-year increase in annual revenue compared to other companies. What company doesn’t want want to save money, right?

Final Thoughts

So let’s just recap on why it’s so important to ask for your employees’ opinions. Because when employees feel heard, valued and empowered they’re more engaged at work, and engaged employees are critical to your organization’s success. Engaged employees are happier, more productive, take fewer days off, are more invested in their roles, and are more likely to stick around long-term.

Checking the pulse of your organization is a no-brainer for employers wanting to gain real, honest insights and understand how their employees are feeling at that exact moment. The surveys require minimal time and effort from both the company and its employees, but the rewards can be huge.

Just a few points to remember:

  • Keep pulse surveys short and sweet
  • Check in with your employees regularly
  • Ask relevant and topical questions
  • Communicate the results with employees
  • Be prepared to take action