Tuesday 7 April 2009

Are engagement surveys a waste of time?


   This is the question asked by Human Resources this month.  Peter Hutton, a former deputy MD at MORI, and author of 'What Are Your Staff Trying To Tell You’ challenges the worth of engagement surveys, explaining that “no one has decided what engagement is and surveys don't ask what bosses want their staff to be engaged with. It's so woolly."

I think Hutton makes a good point (and have proposed some solutions to it in my last post).  However, I don’t agree that surveys are therefore a waste of time.  The type of surveys I’ve described are certainly very valuable, but I think even the less well developed surveys, including Gallup’s Q12, and Best Companies (both of which are criticised by Hutton), add a lot of value too.

The key point is that few business are very good at engaging their people, and that this has a serious impact on their performance.  As Mike Emmott at the CIPD explains:

“More and more employers now see employee engagement as an essential tool to drive improved performance at both individual and organisational levels. Research suggests that there is significant room for improvement . The unfortunate fact is that most UK employees are not engaged and fewer still highly engaged and unless this issue is squarely addressed organisations will continue to under-perform.

“The focus now needs to be on how engagement levels can be improved and how the barriers to engagement identified in the report can be overcome”.



I think until this situation is corrected, engagement surveys will continue to play a very important role in HR’s and business leaders’ lives.  I also think they’re particularly important right now.  Employees may be more ‘transactionally engaged’ that they were a year ago due to the fear of loosing their job.  But I think they are also likely to less ‘passionately engaged’, ie truly committed to their organisations.  Well designed engagement surveys can help organisations understand how they can turn this passion back on.



My engagement series of posts:




Photo credit: Fruggo



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