Have a rant: Employee opinion surveys

We recently completed our annual employee opinion survey, and are now awaiting the results. As in previous years, the senior manage-ment team will be looking for improvements on the previous year’s results and the HR team will be bracing itself, hoping our employee development programmes have made a difference.

The wait is agonising, but why do we rely so much on these employee surveys? Maybe it is because we have become a society that lives by surveys. Take elections, for example. Never-ending polls paint pictures that are invariably inaccurate.

Employee opinion surveys are no different. We can boast about the results if they are good and hide behind them if they are bad – statistics can always be used to explain away the most difficult issues.

And they have taken on a crucial role in employer branding. Best employer in the UK, best in Europe… where will it stop?

One thing is for sure, HR professionals are far too willing to be told what staff are thinking by third parties that have little to do with HR.

Ours is the business function best placed to know what employees are thinking and feeling, and we are the ones that are best placed to respond with HR interventions. Do we really need pollsters and marketeers to tell us what our people are thinking and what we need to do to make them feel better about work? If we are the ones close to the business who are walking the shopfloor and understanding what makes our employees tick, then I think not.

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