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Are Employee Engagement Surveys Really Needed?

19 Apr 2018
Of course surveys should not be the start and finish of engagement within an organisation, but undertaking employee enagement surveys could be an important part of your employee engagement strategy.

Do you need engaged people?

Before asking the question of whether employee engagement surveys are really needed within an organisation, let’s ask instead: does an organisation need engaged people working within it?
Most organisations now accept that having engaged employees results in more efficient and productive teams, whilst decreasing staff turnover and attracting the best talent. Engaged people are also a great way differentiating an organisation, as they will provide a better level of customer service. What does create conflicting views however is the usefulness of surveys within your employee engagement strategy.

How do you deal with employee engagement?

The question on whether surveys are needed often comes down to how an organisation deals with engagement on a regular basis. Some have claimed that organisations should not need to conduct employee engagement surveys because there should be a constant and ongoing process of two-way communication with managers obtaining feedback as part of an open an honest culture. In reality, this method of feedback does not hold true, as in a face to face conversation employees often don’t feel able to speak openly about the problems they may have with their manager. It is a lot harder to obtain negative feedback about the manager when they are conducting the face to face feedback themselves. Even if it was a different manager conducting the meeting or one to one, the fear may be somehow, that confidentiality will be compromised, and their manager will be informed of their views. An anonymous survey helps to avoid this by allowing the employees to speak their mind without the fear of being singled out.

Surveys are a tool, not an employee engagement strategy

Surveys are not intended to replace the human element of employee engagement – far from it! Surveys should be used as a tool to measure what is going well and the areas that need improvement. The groundwork for engagement must still come from managers in a hands-on manner, as they are the ones that drive engagement within an organisation. The human touch is of great importance but collecting feedback individually from each member of staff has further problems. For example, in larger organisations, the sheer number of employees that would have to have a face to face meeting in which they give their feedback would be extremely time consuming. But furthermore, by not having a way to accurately record and collate the results it is very hard to turn them into actionable processes. This would result in a more disengaged workforce because they see that nothing is being changed, despite them giving their feedback.

When working with a professional and reputable employee engagement survey provider, your results will be collected and analysed, with the option of advice and recommendations as to how to act on development areas. The purpose of the surveys is not the survey itself; the survey on its own does not increase engagement. A survey is a tool to help measure the organisation to begin to raise engagement. It could also help an organisation benchmark itself internally or externally and enable organisations to see year on year if their efforts to improve are resulting in a more engaged workforce.

Common concerns about surveys

Some people who question the need for engagement surveys may do so due to concerns they have with the way the surveys are administered, for example, that the surveys cannot be truly anonymous and therefore employee can still be concerned with giving their true feelings. Most reputable employee engagement survey companies have a tight seal on anonymity with only one data administrator, one data analyst and the account manager ever seeing the data. Therefore, employees can be assured that details leading back to them can never been seen.  Of course, organisations do not want employees to feel threatened that their details will be given to managers as this view will prevent honest feedback, which is vital to the success of the survey.

Another concern often expressed is about the reporting of results. When all the data has been collated and then given to the managers, how will managers react to negative feedback about them? This can be managed with an effective post-survey action plan which includes constructive feedback and development support.

So are employee engagement surveys needed?

Based on everything mentioned above, in our opinion the answer to whether employee engagement surveys are needed would be ‘yes’ (no surprise there!).

Of course surveys should not be the start and finish of engagement within an organisation, but undertaking an employee survey could be a an important part of your employee engagement strategy.

By understanding what you are doing well and areas that need improvement, and utilising the expertise of a reputable employee engagement company, receiving and acting on feedback can be a huge benefit to your organisation. However, we will finish by reiterating the need for a continuous commitment to engagement throughout the year, and not just at the times when a survey is going to be undertaken. Only through a joined-up, holistic approach to engagement can an organisation reap the rewards it offers.