Tailored Employee Engagement Research

by: Dean Fulford

Employee engagement surveys are a dime-a-dozen. It seems like every HR consultant offers a minor variation on a standard set of questions touted as the common influencers of employee engagement. The approach we take at Stratford Managers is different. To ensure employee data is most impactful we tailor the survey design and analysis process to suit the client’s specific situation and objectives. Our experience tells us that customized employee engagement research provides the best insight to inform strategy without distraction from less relevant, generic factors used in off-the-shelf engagement metrics.

Let me provide an example.  In our work with one enlightened client, we recently completed a second round of employee engagement research to compare engagement drivers derived from a previous survey. We were pleased to see positive improvement in employee engagement in the areas in which the organization had chosen to prioritize its actions.

Then we noticed something surprising – insight we would not have found had we not custom designed the survey to address this organization’s specific situation. As employees became increasingly aware of an ‘in-process’ organizational change, their engagement level actually fell!  This was the opposite of what we had expected.  What an “Aha” moment!

The insight that the data provided related to the job impact resulting from organizational change. Since organizational change would continue, communication about the impact of that change on different jobs would continue. While open communications reduced general employee uncertainty, inevitably, the future state of the organization would crystalize in the minds of impacted employees.

Our analysis approach paid great dividends. Allowing the data to tell the story enabled this organization to use the information to guse their strategy. By understanding that increased clarity was reducing employee engagement and putting the success of the organizational change at risk, they could take proactive, strategic steps to mitigate this impact – things like:

  • Design new reward or recognition programs to retain employees over the short-term
  • Strengthen recruiting channels in anticipation of increased attrition
  • Engage with a partner to arrange contingent organizational capacity

This experience emphasizes the importance of designing an employee survey process to your own specifications. Use it to thoroughly explore your own hypotheses regarding what influences your employees to be active, motivated, and committed to your success. The results may surprise you – and that could be a very good thing.

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