Employee Engagement Mistakes

Brad Federman writes 2 insightful posts on the issue of the typical mistakes organizations & managers make with respect to employee engagement surveys.

In the first post, Brad raises issues like:

  • Excessive focus on norms or benchmarks – I have myself maintained that benchmarks are important, but they should not distract you from getting to where you want to go in terms of engagement. Use benchmarks to prioritize and / or set targets, but don’t get into madly chasing them.
  • Confidentiality – This seems trivial to some, but is extremely important. Internally-run surveys are not necessarily viewed by employees as confidential. Responses may not be genuine and the data can be questioned.
  • The Big Event Syndrome – Engagement surveys must not be reduced to an “event” that comes once in a year or two. Engagement is a journey. And more than the survey, employees look forward to what is done with the survey results.
  • So, who’s problem is it anyway? – Let’s not put all the onus on the managers. Engagement is a shared responsibility. Every touch-point for the employee affects engagement. Let’s take a realistic stance on what needs to be done and who needs to do it. Sometimes, its people management skills and sometimes it is more to do with systemic issues.
  • Poor survey design – While I know that tons of survey questions are available on the internet, one needs to be careful in selecting them. Questionnaire design is a science and art.

In part 2, he raises yet another set of important issues:

  • The Fix-It Mentality – Often organizations are looking to identify the problem and fix it. Doesn’t often work, unless you do a thorough root-cause analysis of the problem.
  • All Data, No Insight – A short and cool questionnaire may not be the best solution. It may not be comprehensive enough. It may not even cover the entire gamut of issues that drive engagement.
  • All Data, No Action – Need I say anything more? This is the single-most important issue.
  • All Responsibility, No Support – If we want our managers to take action and improve things, we need to provide them the enabling platform – tools, training, resources etc. If not, we are left with disengaged managers who are supposed to be driving engagement in their teams!
  • Opaque Communications – We need to be very transparent in our communication of survey results, action plans and reviews. Engagement is a collective responsibility and everybody has the right to information.

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