If you tell business leaders they need to carry out employee engagement surveys every two weeks or even more often, they are likely to say that once a year is bad enough. The thought of more frequent surveys would fill them with horror.
Most of these leaders view employee engagement surveys as pointless. And they’re usually right. Traditional engagement surveys have no grounding in science, and their results give no indication of how to improve productivity or profitability. So if an HR team proudly announces that employee engagement has increased by, say, 12%, the only sensible response is: “So what?” All this score shows is that engagement has increased when measured against the previous year’s – equally meaningless – survey.
Producing meaningful employee insights
The VibeCatch Quality of Work Life (QWL) survey is based on 15 years’ academic research into the link between employee engagement and productivity. It works by sending out regular messages inviting employees to answer a few carefully chosen questions. The results are then automatically analysed, giving managers precise and immediate guidance on what they should do to improve the quality of employees’ working lives – and therefore their productivity.
The growing number of companies now using the VibeCatch QWL survey are finding that measuring the effect of employee engagement on productivity has a real impact on the bottom line, increasing profits in some cases by as much as 25%. Presented with that kind of figure, no business leader is going to say, “So what?”
Fresh feedback all the time
Measuring employee engagement just once a year is not enough, even with the help of the VibeCatch survey. Organisations that rely on annual surveys can’t possibly know how their people are feeling right now. By the time they find out, talented employees may have left, while those who remain become increasingly disengaged and unproductive.
Even in a small company where people are all good friends, management doesn’t necessarily know if and why some employees are unhappy. That’s why every organisation, no matter its size, needs to listen to employees – not just now and again, but continuously.
Of course, it’s not realistic to expect people to complete a 50 or 100 question survey every week. But with the VibeCatch QWL survey they don’t have to. The survey consists of just 15 questions covering five areas known to influence employee engagement and productivity: leadership, line management, culture, skills and processes. This makes it easy to break the survey down into smaller pieces. If, for example, you are looking for feedback on the quality of line management, all you need do is ask three questions about that particular engagement factor. The following week you can ask about one of the other factors. By using this approach the organisation is able to get fresh feedback all the time, without imposing a burden on employees.
But there is a catch. If companies ask for frequent feedback, they need to act on it quickly. Otherwise, employees will feel betrayed and soon stop giving any feedback at all, warns Juha Huttunen, CEO of VibeCatch. “If you ask for feedback on a weekly basis but you don’t really care about it and you don’t look at it as frequently, then you will fail and you should stick with the annual survey,” he says.
“The faster you get any indication of a potential problem, the faster you can react, and tackle it before it escalates into a bigger issue.”
That’s an argument that should persuade even the most survey-phobic business leader to start listening to employees more than once a year.