Article: Employee surveys are still the top method to measure engagement

#EmployeeEngagementIdeas

Employee surveys are still the top method to measure engagement

Here's why the heads of People Analytics at Facebook think that employee surveys are amongst the best tools to measure employee engagement
Employee surveys are still the top method to measure engagement

In what should make HR practitioners all over the world sit up and take notice, Facebook has recently said that employee surveys are still their most effective tool to measure employee engagement. Scott Judd (Head of People Analytics at Facebook), Eric O’Rourke (People Growth & Survey Analytics Lead at Facebook) and Adam Grant (Professor at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania) penned a report for Harvard Business Review wherein they listed a few undeniable strengths of employee surveys. 

Let’s take a quick look at what they said and how employee surveys have evolved with the changing workplace. 

Employee surveys should stay 

“Surveys continue to be excellent indicators of employee behavior; and despite the increasing use of predictive analytics, the most accurate way of foretelling what people intend to do is by asking them. Furthermore, if employee surveys are going unanswered, that by itself says a lot.” 

The leaders at Facebook opine that surveys continue to be excellent indicators of employee behavior; and despite the increasing use of predictive analytics, the most accurate way of foretelling what people intend to do is by asking them. Furthermore, they say that if employee surveys are going unanswered, that by itself says a lot. Next, they say that despite fully knowing that their responses might not be acted upon, employees do take the surveys seriously. 

Why_are_Employee_Surveys_Important

This indicates their willingness to contribute to the conversation and simply knowing that what they think is valued, is a powerful motivator for them. Lastly, they argue that psychologically, posing questions is a great way to influence behavior as well. Consistently having affirmative answers leads a point of reflection, followed by a shift in behavior. For instance, they explain, volunteerism among Facebook employees rose from 4% to 31%, simply by asking if they wanted to volunteer for a cause.

How employee surveys came to be

While the authors of the report present a convincing argument on why surveys must not be completely abandoned for Big Data based tools, it is pertinent to note that employee surveys have lasted nearly a century. In the early 1920s, ‘attitude surveys’ were conducted with employees. However, the focus has gradually shifted to measuring the morale, satisfaction and commitment level since the 1970s. 

Beginning this century, employee engagement came to the fore; and has since refused to budge from the spotlight. This evolution means that from quizzing employees on bigger challenges plaguing the organization and leadership, the focus is now on understanding the challenges they are facing in their workflow. However, regardless of the objective of the surveys, they have a notorious reputation of failing to convert the responses into practical and impactful action. 

The evolution of surveys and questionnaires

The shift in the measurement of not just satisfaction, but the engagement of the employee, has posed a problem. Gauging the discretionary effort an employee puts in, through different behaviors, can become difficult to measure through traditional surveys. The thrust on driving employee engagement has only increased over the past few years and, so has the necessity to measure it in new and unique ways. 

The need to have more reliable, efficient and speedy mechanisms to measure how engaged employees are, sometimes in real-time, has given rise to the development of multiple technology-based platforms, devices, and tools. These have expanded the ambit of information that can be recorded: from behavior, movement, interaction and even moods, nothing is too vague to be quantified. However, these have also given rise to questions of privacy and collecting employee consent before such information is recorded and analyzed. 

“Measuring email response times, connections outside the core team, or how often employees update their resume comes at the risk of dehumanizing the employers and if nothing, the survey can effectively counter that surveillance-based measurement.” 

Bottom-line

Assessing how satisfied and engaged employees are is intimately linked to business performance in today’s world. 

  • Employers are dedicatedly and earnestly trying to ensure that their employees connect with the organization; and in the process, are cultivating trust and loyalty. 

  • Naturally, the need to measure how well these strategies are working is of immense importance. One can expect a continuous evolution of tools of measurement and a further deepening of the integration of technology with it.

  • Measuring email response times, connections outside the core team, or how often employees update their resume comes at the risk of dehumanizing the employers and if nothing, the survey can effectively counter that surveillance-based measurement. 

However, like the writers of the HBR report say, new age and technology-based tools might give us laser-sharp insight, but they don’t have to come at the cost of the good old survey. They aptly conclude that measuring email response times, connections outside the core team, or how often employees update their resume comes at the risk of dehumanizing the employers and if nothing, the survey can effectively counter that surveillance-based measurement. 

Topics: Employee Engagement Ideas, Life @ Work, Employee Engagement

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