Employee engagement initiatives may be commonplace, but they often fall short of delivering a measurable impact on the business, says global consulting organisation BlessingWhite. A lot of leaders, when asked , 'Are you doing anything about employee engagement?' say, 'Yes, we run an annual survey'," but is that engagement?
Kate Jennings, Managing Director BlessingWhite Europe says "the survey is only a measurement tool and should be a step towards a much broader approach. Organisations need to act on insights and results to move the needle on engagement and start to improve engagement levels and therefore business results.
BlessingWhite has identified four trends in the way that successful organisations get more from their investment in engagement surveys. Jennings summarises these as "less, less, more, more":
1) Less focus on external benchmarks. Companies are finally realising that the goal of a survey isn't to get a good report compared to the competitor down the road. Jennings explains, "Surveys are about getting the insights you need to inform actions within your own organisation. Don't worry about what the competition is doing"
2) Less (technically, fewer) items. Organisations are opting out of 90-item surveys that take a half hour to complete. They're scaling back to 20-30 items that can help drive action. "When you conduct shorter surveys, you are much less likely to hear complaints from 'survey weary' employees - plus your analysis is typically shorter and your actions more focused," says Jennings.
3) More than once every year (or two). Pulse surveys and shorter surveys are being conducted more often. Jennings explains, "If you really want to use employee engagement results as an insight for your business, you need up-to-date data. Your CEO doesn't look at financial results or customer data once a year. They will analyse the numbers each month for a true reflection of how the business is performing".
4) More tied to strategy. Everything around the implementation of a survey needs to link to the business imperatives and strategy -- from the launch communication through to the reporting of results and actions taken by individuals, managers and executives. Savvy HR leaders, in particular, are driving their engagement surveys in line with the overall strategy to ensure it's effective, measurable and counts.
Jennings encourages HR leaders to assess their current employee engagement practices and educate line leaders about the impact that high levels of engagement can deliver. She says, "The evolution of employee engagement data from being an employee opinion or satisfaction surveys to having a legitimate place on the corporate scorecard has been a slow process. As organisations begin to focus on more measurable surveys and more strategic implementations, they'll be in a better position to create improved engagement that can support long-term strategies and business growth."
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