I came across an interesting article by Derek Irvine “3 good reasons why Employee Engagement Surveys fail” which is well worth reading. The three reasons given are:
1. Post survey actions/reactions only further disengage
2. Most disengaged don’t bother to respond to the survey
3. Bad timing, especially waiting to survey until the exit interview
The article says “Frankly, the survey itself is rarely the problem” and “The Bottom Line: Don’t bother to survey employees on engagement unless you’re willing to take their feedback, honestly evaluate what they are telling you, and take steps to resolve perhaps deep cultural issues.”
I’d largely agree with those sentiments and I’ve previously written about “5 survey mistakes and how to avoid them” and “how to improve your surveys by asking fewer questions“.
In my Slideshare presentation (below) I conclude by saying “Start with the end in mind”. You need to be clear about the end-to-end survey process and the end result you’re looking for. The value of a survey will only be realised if you take action to address issues or opportunities highlighted by the analysis.
However, in my experience, too many organisations (or their leaders in particular) don’t have a clue about how to use the results of their staff surveys. It wouldn’t cross their minds to involve the staff in either the design or the analysis of the survey, let alone use well-proven Continuous Improvement techniques to come up with implementable actions. The well-known saying “All organisations are perfectly designed to get the results that they do” certainly applies here: Managers get the staff engagement that they deserve.