The internet is abuzz with talk of employee engagement, and with good reason: it’s a strong indicator of business performance. Some of the proof is in the popularity. According to Deloitte data, more than two-thirds of all organizations conduct annual employee engagement surveys.
The employee engagement survey as most of us know it dates back to the 1920s, when they were called “employee-attitude surveys.” Their usefulness was evident even then, with studies showing a 250% jump in companies that conducted them. Fast forward almost 100 years, however, and it’s probably time for us to revisit the methodology we apply to our surveys today.
Ready? Here are 3 reasons to revisit your employee engagement survey.
1. It’s too long
Shakespeare said that brevity is the soul of wit. A survey scientist might say that brevity is the key to accurate data. (That’s why they don’t write plays. Stick to what you know and all that.)
Annual employee surveys tend to be lengthy beasts, often exceeding 50—and sometimes over 100—questions. The biggest issue? Long surveys induce a phenomenon in survey takers known as “survey fatigue.” Survey fatigue occurs when people become bored, tired, or restless while responding to your survey. The damaging outcome is fudged answers and inaccurate data.
As a general rule, shorter surveys collect stronger responses.
2. It doesn’t account for all employees
Another problem with most annual employee surveys is that they run at the same time every year.
This is suboptimal for a couple of reasons. A big one is that employees come and go over the course of a year, so annual surveys might not capture their experiences. This is a critical flaw in high growth and high attrition companies, where building or repairing a successful culture hinges on hearing employees’ voices.
The other reason?
3. It doesn’t provide trended data
Question 1: Do your employees consistently give your company high marks?
Question 2: Does your annual employee survey take place around the holidays, or after everyone gets their bonuses?
If you answered “yes” to both of these, you can see why trended data is important. Employee sentiment can vary throughout the year, due to the above factors and other events occurring within (and without) your company. The only way to see how these effects unfold is to survey your employees more frequently—which may mean taking a different approach.
So, how often should I survey my employees?
That’s a good question, and one that invites some contentious opinions. At SurveyMonkey, we have nearly 20 years of experience helping people build surveys—and our experience suggests that the best way to track and improve employee engagement is to send shorter surveys on a monthly basis.