Article: The evolution of the Annual Engagement Survey

Employee Engagement

The evolution of the Annual Engagement Survey

The hallmark of a successful employer is after all, not just knowing but knowing specifically what his employees want and need. After all, we live in a world that moves to the slogan of "go digital or go home".
The evolution of the Annual Engagement Survey

Since the 18th century, when the first faint idea of Human Resources germinated, the exact nature of our focus on the workforce has constantly shifted with the changing times and continues to do so. We figured out our way from measuring employee ‘satisfaction’ to ‘commitment’ to finally, ‘engagement’, and indeed that’s what progress is all about.

As beings of reason driven by the need to find logic and connections, a continued shift in focus is all but necessary for us to keep up with new trends and findings. If a new idea or theory gets offered and then proven with results, it must be integrated. If it appears to work, let’s incorporate it. If you don’t keep up, you get left behind. That’s the whole idea of evolution, isn’t it? 

When engagement surveys came into existence a 100 years ago, they were focused primarily on figuring out a way to measure employee satisfaction and productivity. With all the trials and errors the working world has had to offer in the past century, engagement surveys (pretty much like everything else) have evolved to offer a range of modern, convenient features to both employees and employers.

In order to understand these major features that employee engagement surveys have come to offer in the recent past, let’s cast a look at this evolving landscape of employee engagement, shall we?

For starters, the one feature that appears across all employee engagement initiatives is that of increased regularity. What do you get when eager, budding employees meet a fast-paced world of instant online feedback? A need for more regular feedback at work! Feedback and appraisals are no longer an annual pilgrimage. This naturally extends to a need for a regularity in surveys as well. Employees, especially the millennials are keen on not just receiving but providing feedback as regularly as possible and well. What better way to achieve that than engagement surveys that pop up every now and then to serve as friendly reminders that the company you work for cares and actively seeks your concerns and opinions. As long as there’s consistency, regularity is not a concern. In fact, the moment it becomes a “regular” thing, interest and attention seems to waver as it becomes just another task to be ticked off.

The world today runs on the concept of user-friendliness. With the advent of technology has come convenience at work. This marks the end of the days of lengthy, time-consuming pen-and-paper surveys. Convenient and efficient digital survey platforms that employees can access at their own leisure is the “in—thing” now. The thought of "filling out surveys" has a more ominous ring to it than "click or tap on answers in a fun and friendly app that opens on your choice of electronic device at your leisure".

Not to mention the fact that engagement surveys going digital serves as a big boon to the ordeal of data analysis as well. Employers now have at their service all the data that pertains to a specific department or age-group, helping them understand and focus on the needs and concerns of any particular group better. All this at the click of the finger. The hallmark of a successful employer is after all, not just knowing but knowing specifically what his employees want and need. After all, we live in a world that moves to the slogan of “go digital or go home”. 

An interesting shift that seems to be making itself felt in the employee engagement space is the need to look at engagement through the lens of happiness at work. What makes your employees happy? Isn’t the pursuit of happiness in whatever we do, our biggest motivation? Ironically enough, the most overlooked aspect in most surveys is the most closely related to happiness at work. “Mandatory surveys”. What if I told you that employees all over the world, can often be found cringing at these two words?

There is general consensus on the fact that mandatory surveys are often viewed not as the helpful, engagement-oriented initiative they seek to be but as boring, tedious tasks that serve no real purpose. Why is it so? In all honesty, it is not possible to get your busy employ

ees motivated or invested in a survey that in their opinion, serves no true purpose or benefits them in any way. 

The key point to be considered here is that of inclusion. Everyone has an opinion and when it comes to work culture and policies, your employees, in particular, have several. It is just as rewarding, then, to have them feel included in the process of bringing about change in their work experience as it is frustrating to have them feel like their opinions in the surveys go unconsidered. It is absolutely essential for you, as an employer, to take the time to understand your employees' needs and be able to reflect that in the survey you present to them. 

All in all, it is common knowledge that employee engagement is a two-way street. So, while your employees do their bit to seek motivation and happiness at work, you - the modern employer - can attempt to do your share in making engagement as helpful, efficient and attainable as possible. 

Surveys have and still do serve as the best tool for you keep up with the pulse of your workforce. So, as the times and people change, and the work culture evolves, make sure your most useful engagement tool - the survey - evolves too. Think you already know the pulse of your organization? What you might gain insight into can make you skip a beat!

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Topics: Employee Engagement

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