An Employee Engagement Survey is not a Feel-Good Exercise

4 Essentials of an Effective Employee Engagement Survey

Everybody wants a pat on the back Ė affirmation that everything theyíre doing is right. To administer an employee engagement survey with this as an end-goal is a completely wrong approach. No matter how positive a workplace environment is, there will be areas to improve. And no matter how negative a workplace environment might be, there will be things that are going right.

An employee engagement survey, then, is not a feel-good exercise. It is designed to dig for and highlight problem areas. A solid engagement survey will leave an organization coming away with clear, precise information on how to make effective action plans to improve as an organization. This cannot be done with a 12-question survey.

A 12-question survey undoubtedly will detect whether an organization is struggling with engagement. But it leaves organizations with more questions and answers, generalizations, not specifics. Who is not engaged? Why are employees not engaged? What areas or departments have lower (or higher) employee engagement than others?

So short, sweet, and simple leads us to more questions and the inability to create effective action plans based on a survey. This is what we discussed when analyzing Gallupís alarming poll that revealed 70% of the workforce is un-engaged. While we donít argue that engagement is a challenge all organizations face around the world, Gallupís extraordinary findings were based on just 12 questions.

Here are essential elements of an effective employee engagement survey:

1. The survey should be between 30 Ė 80 questions. On average, a 53-question survey takes eight minutes for employees to complete. This is time well-invested.

2. The survey cannot be created in-house: To save money, some organizations attempt to create in-house surveys based on survey models. This is a recipe for disaster. Surveys are developed using industry standards. These standards include everything from wording of the questions to which questions are asked in a survey. And without comparable data, youíre creating a survey in a bubble with responses that mean, virtually, nothing. Moreover, to insure anonymity, itís essential for an organization to contract an independent survey company.

3. As an extension of point 2, itís imperative survey items be benchmarked and validated. This means there must be comparable data for each question. Benchmarking comes from specific items themselves. This is critical to understand. Though some regions may vary culturally, and geography may be relevant in the broadest sense, each individual item is benchmarked and can be compared to organizations around the world. Itís the specificity of each item thatís important.

4. An effective survey measures culture of engagement, strategic alignment, management effectivity, management execution. . These are the cornerstones of employee engagement and to dig down and detect problem areas, an employee engagement survey covers all this territory.

When choosing an employee engagement survey, keep in mind these four essentials of a good survey. Invest in a solid survey that will give your organization actionable results. Instead of more questions, a good survey will give your organization a blueprint to improve. Thatís the point of it, isnít it?

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