How often should you take the pulse of your employee engagement?

Should you be doing "mini" surveys of employee engagement?
Should you be doing “mini” surveys of employee engagement?

Employee engagement is recognized as critical to the success of a company. Many companies annually conduct a survey to measure engagement or employee satisfaction. What if measuring engagement once a year was not often enough? How often should you take the pulse of your employee engagement heart beat?

Advantages and disadvantages with an annual survey

There are both advantages and disadvantages of conducting an annual survey. The advantages are:

  • The disruption on employees is kept to a minimum
  • The cost only occurs once a year
  • The work for the HR department is restricted to once a year

Conversely the disadvantages are:

  • You may be catching employee attitudes in a down swing
  • Because it is an annual event the survey ends up being long and tedious
  • You are not sure if this is a true reflection of year round engagement or a snap shot.

What if you measured more often?

Some companies have decided that they need to take the “pulse” of their employee engagement or employee attitudes more often than once a year. To this end some start-ups have created software to administer shorter, faster surveys to employees on a weekly basis. The thought process behind this seems to be that a bigger picture of employee engagement will be captured and the company can see the ebb and flow of employee engagement as the year progresses. It will identify if there is some seasonality in engagement, and if so, the reason for that change. Identifying the reason might help a company avoid a downturn or be able to bolster the reason for and upturn. “By examining frequent, real-time feedback from employees, companies can make small, subtle changes that are highly focused but could have a big impact on engagement” according to Jacob Shrirar, Officevibe’s director of customer happiness.
The startup OfficeVibe provides a company a way to survey on a weekly basis using a one question survey. They then compile your data and display it on a dashboard. According to an article in Canadian Business, there are several Pulse survey startups like Plasticity, Know Your Company, TinyPulse, Waggl, and Niko Niko, in addition to OfficeVibe. Most of them charge a monthly fee based upon the number of employees in your company. This is a common method for a lot of software services. According to this article “The new popularity of pulse surveys reflects a growing workplace preoccupation with big-data analytics as well as a rising interest in agile development—a software development methodology that’s gaining traction outside the tech world. Mood-tracking is a key metric for agile development firms…”

The big issue

The big issue with these surveys is the same big issue with the annual surveys. Upper management needs to be willing to address the issues that are uncovered in these surveys. If management is not willing to address issues and demonstrate they have listened to the employees then the company is probably better off not doing the survey.
It is an interesting idea however, to collect the data on a more frequent basis. It will allow HR to identify patterns in engagement that may not have been known and thus be better prepared to deal with improving engagement. Even small companies can take advantage of a “big data” process for making their workplace better.
Photo credit: Microsoft clip art

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