Employee Engagement Survey: 5 New Ways to Listen to Your Employees

Stuart Sinclair - March 4, 2021

What’s the point of an employee engagement survey? It’s meant to give you a deep understanding of what drives engagement in your company, and what’s hindering it. By finding out what motivates employees to perform at their best and what puts them off, you have some very valuable information at your disposal. It’s the holy grail of employee engagement data. With this information, you have a good shot at keeping employees satisfied and working productively.

However, most companies go about collecting this data in the wrong way. The annual staff engagement survey is a standard feature of most organisations. Hundreds of millions are spent on these annual surveys, but the results fail to match the investment. Rarely do you see sweeping changes that have been implemented as a result of the engagement survey. Nor do you see marked improvements in productivity and retention. So, what’s going wrong?

In this blog, we take a closer look at employee engagement surveys. Why are they so important? Why is the annual survey missing the mark? And are there better ways to listen to what your employees have to say?

Why the employee engagement survey is important

You need to listen in order to understand. And that means listening to the negatives as well as the positives. An engagement survey will help you to identify and work on weaknesses in your organisation, as well as helping you to improve on strengths and get the most out of opportunities.

It gives employees a voice

One of the key benefits of a survey is that it opens up channels for the employee voice. Once you allow your employees to speak, and share their concerns and suggestions, you are already improving your engagement levels. The simple act of creating feedback channels will boost engagement significantly.  

It allows managers to take action

If you don’t know something is wrong, it’s hard to put it right. Employee engagement survey results will highlight when something isn’t working within your organisation. However, beware of the pitfall of listening and not acting. A YouGov poll of 3,000 workers revealed that only 20% of employees believe their managers take action on survey results.

 It gives you a sense of direction

The outcome of your survey will give you a roadmap for the journey ahead. From the results, you can build an accurate and personalised employee engagement strategy. Having a clear direction for your business and its employees will impact on productivity and morale. It’s one of the strongest drivers of employee engagement.

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Why is the annual engagement survey not working?

Listening to your employees is great. In fact, it’s one of the key employee engagement best practices. But how you listen to them is hugely important. And the one-off, large-scale annual task that is the traditional staff engagement survey, is not the best way to go about this. Here, we’ve detailed the main problems with an annual survey:

Timing: They only tell you what’s happening right now

If you wait a year to conduct a survey, you might be hoping that the results will give you a year’s worth of insight. Sadly not. Employee engagement survey results will tell you how an employee is feeling about the past few days and no more. If you want employee engagement statistics that tell you about the past year, you’ll need to take a different approach.

Scope: They try to cover too much ground

Employee engagement survey questions tend to cover every single aspect of company procedure. When you try to cover everything, you end with a vague, unfocused result. What you really want to know is how to engage employees. But instead, you have a lot of data that is unrelated to this essential question.

Effort: They are a chore, not a pleasure, to complete

The approach of an annual employee engagement survey is not usually user-friendly. And once an employee loses interest in answering your questions, the quality of response goes down. It’s important to realise that not every employee will be interested in providing quality feedback. Often, it’s only those who are either very happy or very unhappy who put in a serious amount of effort.

Impact: Their success is hard to measure

Without a clear focus, it’s hard to quantify the results. When your questions are vague and wide-ranging, it’s not surprising that they are difficult to interpret. As a result, the outcome of the annual staff engagement survey is rarely translated into tangible action. One of the key barriers to employee engagement is the failure to measure and follow up on feedback.

Find out how an employee engagement app can play a pivotal role in delivering an employee engagement strategy

Five new ways to listen to your employees

The answer to these issues is to make your feedback requests regular and consistent. Free-flowing feedback channels need to be put in place and utilised frequently. Forget ‘once a year’. Think ‘once a week’, as a minimum. It is the role of internal communications to pick up on the ongoing signals given out by workers. When you’re looking to improve employee engagement with listening skills, this needs to be incorporated into part of the everyday routine.

#1 Pulse Surveys

They’re short, they’re quick and they’re regular. Fire a pulse survey out to employees on a regular basis – every month, every week – and you’ll gain a flash insight into the mood of the company. Pulse surveys will typically focus on one or two questions at most and will be speedy and simple to answer. They can cover any of the dimensions of employee engagement from job role and working conditions to communication and relationships.

An employee engagement app will help you put pulse surveys into action. Many apps will include a Pulse Module, which allows you to monitor the ongoing health of your organisation. You’ll easily be able to send out regular and scheduled check-ups, with a choice of pulse types already built into the system. At-a-glance dashboards and reports let you analyse results instantly.

#2 Poll Questions

Sometimes you just need an answer to a single question. With just one question and multiple answer options, you can get a quick idea of which way the winds are blowing. The beauty of the poll is the ease of answering. Just one click and you’re done. For this reason, polls have a very high answer-rate and are one of the most popular employee engagement survey tools.

When you’re trying to drill down into employee engagement trends, the poll is invaluable. But how to implement a poll company-wide? This is where the employee app comes into play. With an app, it’s simple to create one-click polls. There are options for anonymous responses to encourage uptake even further. And once you have your answers, the app will pull it all together into a quick report that gives you the full picture.

#3 eNPS Surveys

The Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) is a way of measuring how your employees feel about your company. It’s based on one clear-cut question: “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend this company’s products and services to others?” The answers will tell you how many of your employees are ‘promoters’, how many are ‘neutral’ and how many are ‘detractors’.

While eNPS has been criticised for being overly simplistic, it is a useful measure. Used alongside other key metrics, it will give you very useful insight into levels of employee engagement and motivation. Just asking the question will show employees that you’re listening, and you care what they think.

#4 Suggestion Box

We’re not talking about the old-style manual suggestion box, of course. This is the modern-day online version. It’s about providing your employees with a platform to put forward their suggestions and ideas for improved working conditions. When you ask for ideas, you’ll be promoting a sense of belonging and the ‘we’re all in it together’ mentality.

Employee engagement software will help to you get a suggestion box off the ground. Look for innovation modules, designed to capture ideas and encourage company-wide participation and discussion. And it’s vital to take the next step too. Employees need to see their ideas become reality. Idea management workflow will help you manage the process, taking forward the great suggestions and putting them into practice.

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#5 Group conversations

Every conversation is an opportunity to listen to how your employees are feeling. It’s easy to forget to ask a simple question such as ‘how are things going?’ when we have targets to meet and projects on deadline. It’s especially true for remote workers, who lack the usual opportunities to chat informally. Work engagement levels can slump when employees feel isolated and forgotten.

This is where group conversations can be a lifeline. The key is to create a social space where employees can chat and share. Employee apps can provide the bridge you need to reconnect with employees. Whether you want to set up dedicated group conversations, private chats or encourage participation via social tools such as likes and comments, conversation is a simple solution that shouldn’t be overlooked. Sometimes the simplest employee engagement ideas are the best.

The employee engagement survey still has its place in the internal communications arsenal, but there are alternative ways to listen to your employees. When you’re drawing up your employee engagement survey communication plan, remember one key thing; make listening part of the regular routine.

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