Get the most out of engagement surveys

Go beyond numbers to assess employee satisfaction, motivation and effectiveness
By Paul Warner
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 12/08/2009

Many companies have used employee engagement surveys for years but found the process has become stale and the results are not eliciting change or improving performance. But, properly done, these surveys can increase organizational performance and leadership effectiveness — as long as employers delve into the data to understand the factors behind the scores.

There are several common problems companies encounter in doing employee surveys. Many do not really measure engagement but instead look at satisfaction or commitment, or show only the outcomes of engagement, with just one metric. If results say morale is low, many action plans just target satisfaction or happiness, trying to make employees feel good.

Surveys can also focus too much on increasing engagement scores rather than boosting performance, or rely too much on external benchmarks, losing sight of what’s happening internally. The process can also be an inhibitor of engagement, as workers become frustrated with annual surveys, so participation rates go down and people become skeptical.