Employee surveys are one of the best ways to measure the human factors that have the greatest potential to influence your organisation’s performance.
When linked to business strategy, employee surveys can provide a direct reading on levels of engagement and valuable insights on whether corporate culture is conducive to high work performance. Most importantly, surveys linked to strategy reveal quite clearly if your employees are working in alignment with your strategic goals.
Beyond traditional surveys
For decades, traditional employee surveys have focused on satisfaction, morale, quality of work life and other employee-centric issues. The trouble with these traditional methods is that they used lagging indicators to predict problems and measured employee responses in isolation from the rest of the business.
There is still benefit in hearing what your employees have to say – it’s critical, in fact – but in an age of on-tap information and real-time interaction it makes sense to use the insights from survey data to create real behavioural change. That’s what drives business goals.
Link feedback to strategy
Next-generation, strategic employee surveys not only ask the right questions with an eye to improving employee performance, they also draw direct connections between feedback and strategic goals. For example, a typical survey question might ask for response to the statement “I am happy with the kind of feedback I get from my manager.” A strategic survey would phrase the statement, “The feedback I get from my manager helps me improve my work performance.“ Notice the focus of inquiry shifts from the employee’s perception of happiness with feedback, to the perception of how feedback improves work performance.
Strategic surveys vs traditional surveys – what’s the difference?
|Lagging indicators. Looks for warning signs of trouble via lagging indicators, when potential problems are well advanced.||Leading indicators. Delivers real-time data, so potential problems can be identified and corrected before they develop.|
|Employee-centric. Measures are employee-centric and considered in isolation from the rest of the business.||Holistic view. Employee measures are assessed as part of a broader cause and effect chain, relating employee attitudes to customer satisfaction, for example.|
|HR-centric. Surveys are often developed and managed by HR as ‘employee’ initiatives and typically don’t consider broader strategic goals.||Stakeholder inclusive. Surveys include key stakeholders such as Operations, Finance and HR to ensure results reflect a holistic view of the business.|
|Disconnected. Surveys measure employee job / organisational satisfaction but do not corelate data with employee productivity.||Direct correlation. Survey results draw direct correlation between employee engagement data and employee productivity.|
|Single point of view. Surveys are employee-centric and measure only their perspectives.||Multiple views. Surveys reflect broad aspects of the employee / employer relationship and points of mutual benefit.|
|Humanistic. Surveys measure attitudes, behaviours and morale as humanistic concerns.||Organisational. Surveys measure attitudes and behaviours as related to organisational strategy, values and operational needs.|
Benefit 1: Success through valuable fast feedback
The value of data gathered around employee perceptions is its potential to act as an early warning signal of any looming human-centric problems that can negatively affect your organisational performance. But perceptions change from one conversation to the next, and your employee engagement level will have more ups and downs than a volatile rand. This makes one of the major benefits of strategic employee surveys not only the quality of data gathered, but how quickly accurate information can be collected, analysed and sent directly to the decision-makers who determine appropriate action.
Benefit 2: Influencing behavioural change
Employee surveys help facilitate the two-way feedback that’s essential for a healthy performance culture aligned to strategic goals. If you’ve never conducted a survey in your company, your employees may think their opinions don’t count. Or, if you conduct the standard annual survey and 6-months later business continues as usual, they will (quite rightly) conclude that their opinions, perceptions and suggestions don’t matter. In its simplest form, completing a survey gives your employees a voice in shaping their work environment and the performance of your business. This goes for both big companies and small businesses.
A valuable next step to learning from your employees, is the potential to influence them. This is the dance of communication we learn at an early age. Very rarely is information or a suggestion given and received without exerting an element of influence or persuasion. Psychologists believe this is because questions prompt us to reflect. So even if a response to a question is negative – just asking the question can prompt a person to change their behaviour. For example, an employee may respond in the negative to the question: When something unexpected comes up in your work, do you usually know who to ask for help? When responding, the employee thinks about this and is prompted to find a person they can go to for help.
Benefit 3: Understanding where to invest to add value
One of the key benefits of employee surveys is knowing exactly what your people issues are and where they’re cropping up. With this data at hand, you can make informed and fast decisions about the best corrective action.
Strategic surveys, like eValue, use tools to measure employee engagement that provide a deep look into the real issues. Traditional surveys may accurately reflect perceptions but are not necessarily reliable indicators of cause / effect. So if you’re looking for ways to reduce turnover, the fact that your employees report high satisfaction with your benefits package and selections at the staff canteen, doesn’t suggest you ignore the possibility that your benefits package could use an overhaul. (Or that your canteen menu needs more variety.)
A more nuanced picture of employee engagement produces valuable data that serves not only as a predictor of the performance-impacting human issues within your company, but as a road map to investing in your people to benefit your company as a whole and to drive profits.
Find out how you can turn employee insights into strategic action with eValue. Contact us today.