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How to Stop Your Engagement Surveys From Missing the Target

By Mark Murphy

If you’ve ever looked at Leadership IQ’s report on employee surveys, you’ll know the numbers are pretty grim-looking.

Of note, is the finding that a measly 22% of organizations say they see anything good coming from their employee engagement efforts.

There’s numerous reasons put forward for why this may be. There’s a choir of companies out there, for instance, that’ll sing the song that low employee engagement is ‘just the way things are’.

They’ll blame the economy, the labor market, pandemics, or anything that’s not in their backyard.

But here’s the truth; there’s a whole list of issues right inside their own fence that are blocking them from getting their people fully on board.

So, let’s pull back the curtain and take a look at nine of the most colossal hurdles standing in the way of organizations soaring to high levels of employee engagement that they could, and should, be reaching:

First off, let’s address the truth serum deficit.

There are organizations out there that play their cards so close to the chest that they practically hide their challenges from employees. This lack of transparency can make employees feel like they’re in a game of blind man’s bluff, leading to frustration and disengagement akin to a bee sting.

According to Leadership IQ, a whopping 26% of employees fall into a category labeled as “Motivated But Unhappy”. These are people who are willing to give 100% at work even though they dislike their current workplace. This discontent is often fueled by a lack of transparency.

Next up, we have the survey syndrome:

Imagine trying to kill a mosquito with a bazooka. That’s what many engagement surveys look and feel like. They aim to cover a range of issues, but end up scattering their efforts and missing the target. Think about it – if you had to choose between developing managers to do a better job of employee recognition or improving the office carpet, which one of those would retain your star employees? Hint: It’s likely not the carpet. We need laser-focused surveys that tackle vital factors driving engagement.

This brings us to the missing managerial toolkit:

Employee engagement strategies without the right tools and training are like sending managers to fix a car without a wrench. It’s no wonder strategies sputter and stall. In a study, only 42% of human resource executives stated their company was 100% willing to take action on every single question on their survey. This lack of actionable commitment leaves managers ill-equipped to address engagement issues.

Then we have the juggling act:

Managers, like circus performers, have to keep numerous plates spinning: profitability, customer satisfaction, productivity, and more. Amid this balancing act, employee engagement can wind up like the neglected plate gathering dust in the corner. It’s crucial to remember that high performers, who thrive on being highly engaged, will have drastically higher turnover rates if they’re not engaged.

Change phobia, our next villain, is as instinctive as flinching from a hot flame. We’re hardwired to avoid risks and seek stability. But in the evolving landscape of business, this instinct can act like a speed bump, hindering efforts to enhance engagement.

Then we have the silent treatment:

When information flows in an organization like molasses rather than a rapid river, employees are less likely to view it as a top-tier employer. Recent data shows that only 29% of companies say that all of their managers share survey results with their employees. Now, that’s a communication blockage that needs addressing!

Next, we look at the life-work harmony and cultural quotient:

The perfect engagement survey is like a deep-sea diver, unafraid to delve into the depths of issues like work-life balance and company culture. These aspects are vital for understanding and addressing employees’ needs. A famous Leadership IQ study discovered that in 42% of organizations, high performers were less engaged than low performers. This is where a focused look at work-life balance and culture can make a significant difference.

Our next hurdle is the constructive response reflex:

Engaged employees are like plants; they need the right environment to grow. When employees bring up work problems, they need leaders to respond like a gardener nurturing a sapling, not a gardener wielding a lawnmower. A lack of constructive response can lead to disengagement setting in like stubborn weeds.

Navigating towards the engagement compass:

If you want to truly ace the engagement game, you’ve got to learn to read the compass right. Locating the real drivers of engagement is like finding your true north; without it, you’re wandering in the wilderness. Now here’s a twist though: don’t get fooled by those low scores on your engagement surveys. Are the employees griping about the company’s color scheme or the lunch in the cafeteria? Sure, they might be. But don’t bet your engagement strategy on that. These aren’t typically the things that are going to keep your star employees around or inspire them to give their all. The real magic trick? Tools like multiple regression analysis. It’s a flashlight in the dark, revealing the crucial survey questions that are the true movers and shakers of engagement. With this kind of laser-focused strategy, you’re not just spinning your wheels. You’re creating an action plan that packs a punch and showing your executive team that you mean business.

Remember, run in the right direction

In a nutshell, fostering effective employee engagement isn’t about running the fastest or jumping the highest. It’s about running in the right direction and jumping over the right hurdles. Whether it’s embracing transparency, refining surveys, equipping managers, balancing priorities, encouraging change, improving communication, addressing work-life balance and culture, responding constructively to problems, identifying key drivers of engagement, or accurately assessing disengagement and motivation. It’s about getting the right things done.

Remember, in the race for employee engagement, slow and steady wins the day if it means focusing on the aspects that truly matter.

So, let’s lace up our boots, fix our gaze on the finish line, and start the journey toward a more engaged and fulfilled workforce. After all, it’s not just about reaching the destination; it’s about making the journey count.

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