There are two opposite and wrong reactions to Employee (engagement/satisfaction) surveys. In one end, there is the ‘ignore the findings’. I use the term ‘ignore’ as a host for different meanings: ignore-ignore, pretend that you don’t ignore but ignore, dismiss, justify, or sweep under the carpet. Included here are all the ‘cognitive dissonance’ mechanisms: ‘Of course the results are not good, it was done just when the reorganization was announced’. Or, ‘We have just gone through a hell of a journey with the hostile takeover’. Or, ‘The weather has been really, really bad recently’. Most management teams will not ‘ignore’, but may play some form of little ignoring.
In my consulting experience, this end of the spectrum is not as problematic as the opposite. In the other end, there isn’t ignoring but over-reaction. A need to address point by point, score by score, graph by graph and do something, or, more importantly, being seen as doing something, sometimes without a lot of reflection. Work-Life balance low? Lets have focus groups to find the 3 best initiatives we can have to improve it. Trust in management low? Let’s have a cascade down system of workshops by mangers with their staff. Etc.
I see often a temporal organizational paralysis trying to deal with the graphs and numbers. I know of a Big Plc Board that has ‘ordered’ a tsunami of meetings across all geographies to make sure that ‘people are engaged’. I see more benign forms of reaction to items, but not much of overall reflection in search of overall meaning.
Incidentally, I have never seen a Reaction-Workshop-Chain focused on high scores to see how we can maintain them high. It’s always a Problem Solving of The Negative exercise. No wonder the climate of the Tsunami Reaction is negative/sad/Huston-we-have-a-problem.
My advise for people who don’t have proficiency in handling Employee Surveys is simple: don’t do them, you might get lots of results.
My view on these surveys is known: Here are four old Daily Thoughts:
Build your own Employee Engagement argument for free. You can’t go wrong
If you want to increase employee engagement and employee satisfaction, increase your company performance (yes, the order is not a typo)
The shortest Employee Engagement survey has one question
Is employee engagement whatever is measured by employee engagement surveys?
Employee Engagement Surveys are tools for conversation. Results, good or bad, are symptoms. Any symptomatic treatment is, well, symptomatic. It does not touch the causes. Having low Work-Life balance scores treated with a package of ‘flexible working’, is giving painkillers to somebody with a fractured arm.