Following on from Monday’s Daily Thought on Employee Disengagement,  in which I suggested four main sources:
- The video and the audio don’t match
- Personal gratification has become insufficient
- Declining commitment is now socially infected
- Some catalyst event has contaminated the place (and me)
I’d like to pick on number 4 and suggest an easy behavioural experiment to determine the solidity of a particular Employee Engagement survey/tool.
Pick a Division in which you can split the employee population into at least three rather homogenous samples of some size.
- Sample A gets the survey as planned.
- Sample B does the same but the week before is visited by a positive, charismatic leader from HQ who meets the group and delivers a forward looking speech including praise for the collective efforts of the group.
- Sample C, as before, but the visit is done by a leader who spends quite a lot of time lamenting, in group situations, the missing opportunities of the company or its shortcomings. If you can find a visiting leader with a clear ability for frowning whilst looking at people, even better.
Do the comparisons of the results, and enjoy. You don’t have to hire a social scientist to cater for a good control of other variables, but if you have a cousin in second year social psychology or sociology, they will be able to help.
This is the old psychological ‘priming effect’ in action. In fact one of the multiple interpretations of the concept. Previous exposure to a stimulus has significant implications for the outcome. Self explanatory, I hope
My rule of thumb would be that if you encountered significant variations between the A,B and C samples, reasonably assessed, you should think twice about the solidity of the Employee Engagement tool.
It’s not that difficult to test. But some in the HR/OD/HQ/Anywhere Department may think you are mad.
Do it anyway.