If we spent less time measuring how engaged our employees are, we could spend more time simply engaging them.
The statement might seem obvious, but reality is never quite so simple. There are plenty of reports, such as the State of the Global Workforce, telling us that employees are not only ‘not engaged’ but in many instances are actively disengaged. These same reports tell us that this lack of engagement hurts our businesses and our bottom line.
And so, what is our response? All too often, we trot out our annual ‘Employee Engagement’survey and ask our employees how they are feeling. The problem with this approach is that at best it is a point in time view of how employees are feeling. Perhaps they were feeling angry that day – because of something that happened at work or the fight they had with their partner that morning, a bad commute, an unpleasant encounter with a store clerk. Or maybe they were feeling unusually positive because they had gotten an unexpected happy surprise or unexpected praise that day. In any event, the answers don’t really reflect how ‘engaged’ employees are with the business but how engaged or happy they were feeling that day. These survey results give us a ‘pat on the back’ when they show that we are different, that our employees are happy and engaged, or a temporary wake up call to do something new or different to get them engaged. But mostly, the results end up in a metaphorical drawer gathering dust until the next survey comes around and we want to determine whether we have improved, have become more engaged.
In addition to the fact that the results can be biased and unreliable, there are many other reasons not to rely on employee engagement surveys to measure the health of our businesses. Perry Timms discussed this in his post proposing a People Powered Index, and a recent article in the Harvard Business Review demonstrated that engagement and productivity, which is really what we are after, are not the same thing. So, rather than doing a yearly survey that may or may not provide actionable results, what can we do?