Historically, employee surveys have focused on satisfaction, but does satisfaction translate into business results, or does it just mean employees are comfortable, content with the status quo, or even unchallenged? There's been a shift in the world of workplace surveys to determine employees' levels of "engagement" in addition to satisfaction, as a better predictor of business outcomes.
What is Engagement?
Definitions of engagement vary widely, but the common thread among them is that engagement is the characteristic that drives positive action and discretionary effort. Towers Perrin defines engagement as "the extent to which employees put discretionary effort into their work, beyond the required minimum to get the job done, in the form of extra time, brainpower, or energy". An 'engaged' employee will work harder for you than a disengaged employee, provide better service to your customers, and is more likely to stay with a company through the rough times. While knowing if employees are "satisfied" is important, isn't this what we really want to know?
Assessing Engagement through Surveys
Where traditional satisfaction questions might sound like "On a scale of 1 to 5, rate your satisfaction with your job duties (or manager, career opportunities, work environment, etc.)". While it is still important to assess these factors periodically for an overall temperature check on the workplace and as a tie-in to engagement, asking a handful of more directed questions can give us insight into engagement, and direct where we need to focus efforts. Questions like "I find personal meaning in my work", "I am motivated to go above and beyond the call of duty", "I understand my role in the organization as a whole", can shed light on employee commitment and desire to produce and perform.
The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) Foundation in its report "Employee Engagement and Commitment" recommends exploring multiple factors of your organization's employment experience when working to improve engagement. The following factors have been found to have a strong correlation to engagement, and surveys should be designed to explore these areas:
Job design, including scope and complexity of work;Availability of advancement opportunities, training, and development through the employer;Compensation plans that encourage both long-term commitment and strong performance in the current job;Performance management programs that link organizational objectives to job objectives, have clearly communicated expectations, and involve the employee in goal-setting.
Survey and Engage
Acuity Human Resources develops customized, web-based surveys based on the needs of each client. Employees generally feel more comfortable sharing their candid feedback with us, as a third-party organization. Following summation of your survey results, we can provide detailed results to you, accompanied by strategic recommendations for your management team to increase engagement among your employees, improve communications, enhance management skills, or other topics your individual survey may address. Clients often follow the survey with small focus groups conducted by Acuity to dig deeper into the topics at hand. To test a sample survey for your organization, contact the team at Acuity.