Are these survey questions familiar?
“I am proud to work for Company X”
“I see myself working at Company X in 2 years’ time”
“I would recommend Company X as a place to work to a friend or colleague”
“I find my work to be meaningful”
“I feel motivated to put in my best at work every day”
And is this conclusion familiar?
“Your employee engagement profile is 71% (71% positive; 19% neutral; 10% negative)”
Our argument is that these questions, and the consequent conclusion (Engagement = 71%) are meaningful, and they are telling us something about employee engagement, but they are not telling us enough to allow us to take precise and meaningful action to bring about positive change.
For example, my place of work might offer me a great working environment, reward me well and give me a sense of meaning and purpose – but I might find certain aspects of my work infuriating and be planning to leave as soon as possible. So, I would wholeheartedly recommend my current employer to a friend – because they might feel differently from me and, after all, it’s a good place to work – but I may still be planning to move to a new employer. It is increasingly common for engagement surveys to return reasonably high engagement profile scores, but also to show that a disturbingly high percentage of employees do not expect to be working at the same company in 2 years’ time.
The single engagement profile figure delivered by typical surveys offers a benchmark. It allows organisations to see if employee engagement is improving or deteriorating, and to compare themselves with other companies or by internal division, but it offers very little insight into what may be causing employees to feel engaged and disengaged.
Read part 2 of our argument: We Need To Understand What Drives Engagement