5 Reasons Why Employee Engagement Surveys Need to be an Ongoing Process

While many organizations may realize the importance of employee engagement, it appears that they continue to achieve little in the way of improving it. In fact, a 2017 report released by Gallup shows that only 33% of U.S. employees feel engaged. If that isn’t bad enough, the worldwide engagement rate is even lower – a dismal 15%. So why is this so low?

While there are many factors at play, one major contributing factor is that the surveys used to measure engagement are infrequent and often very generic. That being said, let’s look at five reasons why employee engagement surveys need to be a continuous process.

1. Progress Needs to be Monitored

Gallup explains that “Many companies simply conduct an annual survey…but they don’t sufficiently follow up. This has never worked and will never work. It’s not what our most successful clients do.”

In other words, checking up on engagement once a year may help measure annual milestones, but it doesn’t give employers a chance to see how engagement is evolving for the other 364 days. Consequently, employee engagement could plummet, and nobody will know that there’s a problem until a full year later. During that time, it’s safe to say that people will have left the organization or lowered their productivity.

2. Workforce Changes

As older employees leave the workforce, members of the younger generation inevitably take over; however, different age groups have different needs. What may have kept someone in their 50s engaged isn’t necessarily going to work for a person in their 20s.

Case in point, baby boomers valued loyalty and job security. It wasn’t uncommon – even expected – for these individuals to stay with a company for decades. Millennials, on the other hand, want a job that offers autonomy and flexibility for things like vacations. Their social lives often trump work responsibilities.

Young workers will have no reservations about leaving. Specifically, the average expected tenure for a millennial is only 4.4 years. If a company only surveys their staff’s engagement on an occasional basis, it’s safe to say that their young workers will leave in droves.

3. Organizational Changes

The workforce isn’t the only thing that changes in an organization. New management or developing business needs often give way to alterations in policies and procedures.

According to the consulting firm, Wills Towers Watson, change is usually met negatively, then gets better and declines again until (hopefully) returning to normal. But this isn’t the main reason why engagement surveys should be ongoing in this case.

Willis Towers Watson explains that “What is often overlooked…is the fact that different employees experience the change curve at different times, and this can cause misunderstandings by leadership.” This is why it’s essential for surveys to be conducted regularly. Management needs to stay on top of changes like these, or addressing problems with engagement may be too little, too late.

4. Increasing Responsibilities

As client needs change, organizations often find that they need to consolidate certain functions. It’s not uncommon for companies to train employees on performing tasks that used to be assigned to other departments. This can be a blessing or a curse.

Many employees embrace added responsibilities. They bring fresh, new challenges and an opportunity to learn. On the other hand, the increase may be too much to handle.

Continuously using surveys to monitor engagement after changes like these helps determine whether the additional workload is making people happy. In many cases, this can be resolved by ensuring proper training and better incentives, according to the International Journal of Multidisciplinary Sciences and Engineering.

5. Developing Issues

One final thing to consider is that the surveys themselves may also need to change. Questions that applied at one point might not be as relevant in the current environment. Modifying the nature of these questionnaires on a regular basis allows organizations to obtain relevant information while discarding things that may no longer apply.

There is also the issue of frequency. Major changes can significantly affect engagement over a short period of time. In these cases, it may help to increase the rate in which employees are interviewed.