Why do some employee surveys miss the mark?

“Are we going to be able to do anything as a result of this survey!?” “Don’t give me copious data from a survey and then ask for more employee time to identify actions!”

These were two things we heard often when we were working out how to turn our Employee Connectedness (EC) framework into a practical/pragmatic employee diagnostic. It’s also something that is highlighted in a recent blog I read which is worth a quick read. 

Unfortunately receiving the outcomes report from many employee surveys can be like receiving the score from a football game you didn’t watch – it tells you who won but gives no insight into the game itself. If your team lost, it doesn’t tell you how they played and what they could have done to improve.

I think many employee surveys are like this because of two main reasons –

1. They measure outcomes alone (the score at the end of the game). This typically comes in the form of an employee engagement measure (most likely comprised of employee commitment and motivation) and a measure of culture. Although useful, these provide little useful insight into the day-to-day employee experience and what useful insight is gained is normally diluted via it’s segregation into organisational silos e.g. learning and development, management, culture, leadership.

2. They gather opinions about ‘the organisation’ i.e. What employees think the organisation should do and how it should change. This is a difficult road to go down because ‘organisations’ (particularly big ones) are often very cumbersome and slow to change. This type of diagnostic also by default sets an expectation amongst staff that ‘the organisation’ will change as a result of their feedback. Such an expectation when unmet (and this is probably more often than not) is often the source of future skepticism toward ‘the organisation’

Don’t get me wrong, these two avenues of questioning have their place. It’s just that we look through a different lens known as Employee Connectedness. EC is about the health, strength and productivity of relationships between people. 

Where an org development person might look at an organisation in terms of the relationship between strategy/mission and people, a traditional HR person might look through a lens that focusses on policy, processes and recruitment and a lawyer looks purely through a legal lens, we look through a lens that is purely about the productivity, health and strength of relationships between people within an organisation.  Once we establish this picture the opportunities for improvement become greater, clearer and more creative. There will always be opportunities to respond!

I wonder what your org would look like through an Employee Connectedness lens?


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