Kick Employee Surveys To The Curb

Employee Engagement …an overused phrase and an underused action. 

Bloomberg hosts The Management Blog which hones in on trends and issues within management. In an article Liz Ryan states: “Every decade or so, a bright new theory about managing people gets HR chiefs all excited. In the 1980s, it was the 360 Evaluation. In the nineties, we had Automated Applicant-Tracking Systems and Comprehensive Performance-Management Systems. These days, Employee Engagement is hot.”

You’ve probably heard the term “employee engagement” thrown around a bit at your company. I bet most of us hardly know where to begin when trying to define what employee engagement means in our business—it simply doesn’t exist. It’s an abstract thought that doesn’t seem to really ever get us anywhere. It’s “them” trying to understand “us,” and “us” trying to understand “them.”

So what really is employee engagement? According to Ryan, “It’s a made-up construct that seeks to measure how well our employees like us.”

Everyone rolls into their position at different levels of difficulty relevant to task, busyness, creativity, technical skill and detailed data. What employees spend their 9-5 hours on doesn’t always have company culture and relationships as a top priority—they are plugged in elsewhere. This is where our managers fill in the gap. Your upper staff is a big component in driving engagement. Leaders set the standard for one-on-one relationships that trickle through the company and they can make or break the system.

If we are ever going to figure out how we can have amazing engagement within the company, we have replace surveys with conversations. You can start by having one simple, yet meaningful conversation a day with someone you don’t know very well. That’s five conversations a week where you learned more about those you work with. Survey’s only teach us that our face-to-face communication is a “lack thereof” and we are doing a disservice to those taking them by wasting their time. 

What does employee engagement look like where you work? Is it comfortable and welcoming, or could it use a huge turnaround? Whatever the circumstance, invest into the lives of those around and you won’t miss the mark on employee engagement.