A Surprising Repurposing of Employee Surveys

by: Dean Fulford

I recently read a great blog post (and bite-size history lessons) by Julie Kennedy, on CEB Blogs.  Julie is in the Workforce Surveys & Analytics group at advisory company CEB.

Here are the history lessons:

In the 1880’s, Gustave Eiffel was awarded a 20-year temporary permit for his ‘feature’ at the World’s Fair. Most Parisians loathed the decorative eyesore and looked forward to its disassembly.  However one innovative engineer had other ideas. Eugène Ducretet realized the Eiffel Tower could be the world’s largest radio antenna.  Through his efforts the structure became a permanent part of France’s radio transmission infrastructure by the early 1900’s.  Aha!

In the 1920’s Dr. Alexander Fleming found that mold growing in his London lab had spread to a nearby petri dish where it seemed to stop the bacteria from growing. Surprise!  He’d accidently discovered the world’s first antibiotic.

So, what does any of this have to do with surveying employees?

Good HR managers already know that a well-written and effectively administered employee engagement survey can provide actionable insights into the people working in an organization. Applying advanced analytics to the data can lead to clear identification of the factors motivating employees to be productive (providing increased effort), active (continuously improving outcomes), and committed (being an advocate) to the organization.  Even more opportunity to improve business performance is gained from a careful assessment of the underlying factors triggering the need to survey employers in the first place.

But how many of you have thought about using employee engagement surveys to actually contribute to implementing business strategy?  With only minor adjustments, employee engagement surveys can help business leaders assess whether the organization has the essential skills and capabilities to implement any change in strategic direction.

Does your business strategy depend on innovative product breakthroughs?  Test to see if your workforce is open to new ways of doing things and willing to treat mistakes as learning opportunities rather than failures.  Is customer experience your key competitive differentiator?  Use the survey to see if you have the tools, processes, and culture of teamwork to make this happen.  Intentionally aligning your employee survey efforts with the organization’s strategic direction puts this process at the center of business success.

So let’s learn from Eiffel’s and Fleming’s surprising historical experiences – discover how a repurposed employee engagement survey can play a “towering” role in your business strategy!

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