Yes, but only if there's a proper balance between measurement and action
Last month I had three requests for advice on how to get the most out of an employee engagement survey, and how to link the survey to business performance. The requests came from HR managers working in major organisations and I hope they found our meetings and my advice in some way useful. For my part I came away with several observations.
- It was not the HR directors that were asking for advice, but people below them who had been given responsibility for the survey.
- None of the organisations had identified a compelling reason for conducting the survey, no objectives, no pressing questions to be answered, just a vague idea that it was the proper thing to do.
- Prior to our meeting none of the organisations had given any real thought to how the survey data might be linked to hard business performance metrics, or what those metrics might be.
- Nor had they thought through the processes or procedures for post-survey action.
- The survey providers engaged by these companies had not offered guidance or advice on any of these fundamental issues.
In one of my blogs last May I drew attention to the fact that around 70% of large companies regularly conduct engagement surveys but only 10% do anything with the results. These conversations go a long way to explaining why.
The fact of the matter is that if engagement surveys are to be real drivers of business performance, as they can be, the approach needs to shift. Senior managers need to take responsibility for them, they need to focus on linking people’s attitudes and behaviours to hard business performance metrics, and the balance of effort needs to shift to post-survey action.
If engagement surveys are to be real drivers of business performance there needs to be a proper balance between measurement and action.