The results are in and companies with a more engaged workforce have nearly doubled their odds of success compared to those with an actively disengaged workforce.
According to the comprehensive Gallup study, work units that landed in the top quartile in employee engagement outperformed bottom-quartile units by the following amounts:
- Customer ratings (+10%)
- Profitability (+22%)
- Productivity (+21%)
- Employee turnover (-25% in high-turnover organizations, -65% in low-turnover organizations
- Shrinkage (-28%)
- Absenteeism (-37%)
So if engaging with employees on an increased and ongoing basis drives the performance of a business, one question arises from these numbers: why do companies still insist on the isolated annual employee survey?
A study from Deloitte asked the very same question of the “aging idea of an employee engagement survey” given bargaining power has shifted from employer to employee in the so-called war for talent. These surveys give a highly in-depth look at engagement within a company at a small, given time period, but they fail to provide the constant monitoring that is required to build a true culture of engagement.
In a recent interview with Hanna Vuorikoski, HR Director of Sanoma Media Finland, she stated that “the traditional annual survey to measure engagement is not something that will drive a continuously high-performing workforce, so HR needs to help managers measure results on an ongoing basis so you can take concrete actions and turn the feedback into realised outcomes, which will steadily improve the work climate day by day.”
Employee Engagement: From HR Initiative to HR Strategy
So how do you go about moving employee engagement from being an isolated HR initiative to a focal point of an ongoing company strategy? This shift starts with senior management and providing a business case that clearly communicates the value of a people-focussed company strategy. Once you achieve buy in from senior management, this will allow HR teams to facilitate team leaders and line managers with the successful implementation of ongoing feedback loops rather than isolated annual touchpoints. And this is an important point since employee engagement is not just HR’s responsibility. We’ve heard time and time again that people leave managers, not companies, so the importance of the role of managers cannot be overstated (although some forms of ‘bad leadership’ are not all that bad).
Co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Dr. Travis Bradberry, highlighted nine bad manager mistakes that make good people quit, including their inability to engage creativity within their employees:
“The most talented employees seek to improve everything they touch. If you take away their ability to change and improve things because you’re only comfortable with the status quo, this makes them hate their jobs. Caging up this innate desire to create not only limits them, it limits you.”
While refusing to change sounds like a classic case of The Einstein Leadership Mistake, it’s also a potentially dangerous outcome of the annual survey. By only gathering data once per year you’re essentially limiting your ability to change on a regular basis since actionable outcomes can only be implemented once the data from the study has been analysed.
Indeed, the time has come to engage in an ongoing dialogue with your employees. The time has come to co-create from the bottom up rather than enforce from the top down. The time has come to be proactive rather than reactive.
And so the time has come to end your annual employee survey once and for all!