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We bring insight into emergent trends in survey measurement and management

The start of a new year usually signals heightened focus on strategy and strategic planning. Surveys are an important instrument in the strategy toolbox, serving both to inform direction and to steer decision-making. In this article, we look at 2020’s survey trends and what they represent for organisational surveys.

META-TREND: Better capitalism

2019 was a year characterised by severe disruption and change. As the climate crisis deepens, and the world’s wealth gap widens, public and private sectors alike are looking for ways to make capitalism more accessible and accountable.

In their Fjord Trends 2020 report, authors, Mark Curtis and Martha Cotton describe this accountability in simple terms:

“This trend is about embracing a much more comprehensive range of success metrics, and about re-examining the long-held belief that the bottom line is important above all else. This is why companies must work differently, responsibly and imaginatively.”

TREND 01: Surveys get real

In its latest Global Human Capital Trends report, Deloitte speaks of the rise of the social enterprise and calls for organisations to ‘reinvent with a human focus’. Expect to see surveys that seek to gather insight into organisational purpose as business leaders begin to ask all-important questions of their stakeholders, such as, ‘Where do we want to go together?’; ‘What kind of impact do we want to make in the world?’; ‘What do we really stand for?’ and ultimately, ‘Beyond profit, why do we exist?’

If your organisation is transforming – and let’s face it, which company isn’t, given the ever-accelerating rate of technological change – questions relating to purpose and the fundamental rewiring of corporate DNA are sure to feature prominently in your next engagement survey. A new world order is coming – and purpose-led questions are the ones that need answering urgently. 

META-TREND: Diversity and inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are not new. What is new is the prioritisation of D&I as a business strategy. With global business leaders like Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella not simply endorsing the strategy, but making it a “core priority”, business looks set to be vastly different in the near future. Nadella had this to say:

“In 2019, I feel something markedly is different around this topic of diversity and inclusion but more importantly around the action around diversity and inclusion. Five years from now, maybe even less … the workplace in tech is going to be very transformed, very different, and it’s going to be much better for all of us.” 

TREND 02: Mega diversity

As organisations look to diversity as a source of sustainable business advantage, organisational surveys are likely to explore the topic in more granularity.

The advancement of previously disadvantaged people, women and LGBTQI+ people will remain important metrics of diversity surveys in 2020, but increasingly other, lesser-known metrics, such as cognitive diversity and learning diversity will pop up too.

Also, as organisations strive to make their inclusion efforts more effective, survey content is likely to feature more assessment-based information-gathering statements, such as, ‘This organisation creates an environment that is conducive for the free and open expression of ideas, opinions and beliefs.’ 

META-TREND: Burnout at work

In 2019, the World Health Organisation officially identified burnout as a diagnosable medical disease. As more and more employees present with symptoms of burnout – exhaustion, disengagement, reduced productivity and efficacy – employers are being called to account for whether or not the condition is systemic within their organisations.

Blind, an app that anonymously connects professionals to discuss workplace issues, ran a survey in 2018 and found that almost 60% of tech employees who responded, were burnt out.

TREND 03: Measuring burnout

Organisations are likely to respond to the burnout phenomenon with wellness surveys that incorporate statements specifically about burnout, as well as statements that will help wellness officers to identify areas where intervention, and help, is required.

Online management, leadership and personal effectiveness skills builder, MindTools shares a 15-point, self-test burnout survey. Key statements for respondents to answer against a Likert scale from this survey include:

  • I have negative thoughts about my job;
  • I feel that organisational politics or bureaucracy frustrate my ability to do a good job; and
  • I feel that there is more work to do than I practically have the ability to do.

META-TREND: People over data

According to Deloitte, 71% of companies see people analytics as a high priority in their organisation. Yet, few companies can claim to have a deep understanding of the specific dimensions of engagement that drive high performance within their organisations. In its latest data management trends report, Dataversity states that by 2020, more than 40% of data-based tasks will be automated. There can be no doubt that passive monitoring of employees through machine learning and AI will help organisations to see what matters most to their people. But nothing beats a survey for empowering people to speak their minds and express their opinions.

TREND 04: Finger on the pulse

2020 will continue to see the pulse survey proliferate as a fast and effective method of gathering insights. Typically sent out on a weekly basis, a pulse survey’s one-to-five questions can be pre-set at the start of a quarter or year, or it can be used more tactically, with questions arising spontaneously out of current organisational issues and events.

Either way, the pulse survey has earned its place as the essential complement to the annual staff engagement survey.

As you build out your strategy for 2020, keep these survey trends in mind. And don’t hold back from reaching into your strategy toolbox for a survey – it’s a great trend-spotting tool in and of itself.

Don’t have a survey tool in your arsenal?  Contact us – we can help.