Businesses must look to the newer models of employee engagement that allow the employees to feel heard and valued everyday
Platforms like Hyphen provide a combination of top-down Pulse Surveys and a bottom-up employee generated conversations
In 2015, millennials, those aged 18-34, surpassed Generation Xers and Baby Boomers as the most dominant generation in the global workforce. Recognized for being inventive, technologically competent, and reliant on interaction with their peers and leaders for motivation, millennials are watching their influence in the workplace grow.
As the power of employed millennials grows, so does the importance of their effective engagement; companies imperil themselves if they do not react to this changing workforce demographic. With technology speeding up most corporate processes, all working generations are in need of real-time feedback. While many corporations seek out customer insights on tools such as Google Plus, TripAdvisor, and Yelp, corporations are still not leveraging platforms that gauge employee insights and feedback in a similar real-time manner. A company’s employees, similar to its customers, are in need of continuous and instant modes of communication that make their inputs valuable. In the face of a modernizing world, infrequent, lengthy year-end surveys are a figment of the past.
One of the reasons annual employee engagement polls are not as impactful rests in the questions they ask. Vague inquiries, such as the “circle-all-that apply” questions (“I like my employer,” or “I have a great community at work”) are defeating because they do not align with the company’s capability to fix the issue. Mark Murphy, a contributor for Forbes, sums up this problem accurately: “If you don’t know exactly what actions will fix a situation, don’t ask a question about it until you do.” If a staff member were to not circle the “I like my employer” option, what would the company’s response be? Pointed questions such as these are easier asked than acted upon.
Next, because survey results are numerically based, these tests drive some companies to focus on the score, not actually producing useful and structure-changing data. A research conducted by the American Psychology Association1 found that a customer’s perception of a business was shaped in part by how he or she viewed the activity, customer service and passion of its employees. This report, as well as others such as one conducted by Hay Group that found revenues of highly engaged companies were up to 250% higher than their disengaged counterparts, motivate companies to pursue high worker satisfaction. As someone personally involved with Human Resources, I saw how easy it was for employers to ask pointed questions that draw on a year’s worth of memory and produce invalid responses that might reflect positively on leadership without addressing underlying issues or trends.
To further illustrate the faults of the current survey model, oneHarvard Business Review report2showed that although 70 per cent of executives rate employee engagement as essential to corporate success, only 24 per cent believe that employees are effectively engaged. Even with companies “spending nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars in an effort to improve employee engagement,” during 2015, employee engagement levels remained stagnant (Gallup).
The ineffectiveness of the old model has paved the way for a newer one at companies around the globe. Because a motivated employee typically feels heard and valued, the new process of employee engagement must include real-time continuously updated feedback and insights.
Hyphen, a San Francisco based start-up that offers solutions to disconnect in the workplace, helps in actively monitoring feedback of workforces in companies like InMobi. Platforms like Hyphen provide a combination of top-down Pulse Surveys and a bottom-up employee generated conversations. Employees can anonymously ask questions, experience quick responses and begin conservations they feel are important. Companies can now crowdsource ideas, offer unique pulse surveys (periodically repeated questions whose responses are translated to trends), alerts, prioritized polls and comments, and segmented analysis. With the use of such tools, I believe companies can remain constantly aware of what is important to their employees. Another perk about such tools is that it can be integrated with the intranet that employees use for communication in the organization, such as Slack, thereby making this process easier and keeping the conversations in one place.
My belief is that this new model will lead to better employee retention, acquisition of innovative ideas from different levels of employees, and an overall increase in corporate productivity for organizations that choose this model. With regards to worker loyalty, a CLC study found that corporations with passionate and active workers were less likely to leave their companies than disengaged equivalents by 87 per cent. By continuously reacting to the needs of the workforce through live feedback, employers can hope to create an environment that current and potential employees will thrive in. By providing a safe place for workers to anonymously pose ideas or congratulate their co-workers, and by offering immediate responses via department and geographically-based channels, I believe companies and their divisions will see the proliferation of amazing ideas that workers may otherwise forget to voice or feel uncomfortable presenting. Lastly, by generating a positive, open climate for employees, I believe HR leaders will also see an increase in workforce productivity. This is also corroborated by Harvard Business Review4that employees who experiencedemployer appreciation were more likely to demonstrate higher energy, and be moreinvolved in and satisfied with their work.
With the millennial generation comprising an ever-growing portion of the global workforce, and with technology transforming the way the world does business, the age of ineffective employee engagement and satisfaction surveys is over. In its place businesses must look to the newer model that allows the employee to feel heard and valued everyday, and which in turn will create a healthy and high performing work environment.