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Is It Time to Rethink the Traditional Employee Engagement Survey?

Is It Time to Rethink the Traditional Employee Engagement Survey?

In a recent Harvard Business Review article entitled, "3 Key Metrics That Employee Engagement Surveys Miss," the author asserts the ineffectiveness of traditional employee engagement surveys, suggesting they’re outdated and fail to capture crucial aspects of the modern employee experience.

While the critique labels these surveys as outdated, it's crucial to dissect not just the listening vehicle itself but also its application. The real question isn't about the obsolescence of the mechanism per se, but rather the rigidity of its application and the overlooked potential of incorporating other innovative methodologies, such as passive feedback and Organizational Network Analysis (ONA), into a holistic listening strategy that also includes surveys.

The Limitations of Traditional Surveys and the Need for Evolution

The author does get one thing right on the money: It's prime time for a radical overhaul in how engagement surveys are perceived and utilized. Indeed, these surveys are often launched with the noblest intentions to gain insights into the employee psyche. However, there’s a considerable gap in our comprehension and articulation of the precise objectives these surveys aim to achieve. 

The HBR article rightly identifies a growing sentiment among business leaders and HR professionals about the limitations of traditional employee engagement surveys. These surveys, often criticized for being too generic, expensive, and disconnected from real-time issues, are seen as insufficient in capturing the dynamic nature of employee engagement in our modern workplace. The author's call to focus on team success, innovation, and trends is a response to these perceived shortcomings, highlighting a need for surveys to evolve in measuring a host of key performance indicators (KPIs).

Perceptyx’s People Insights Model: Comprehensive and Customizable

In contrast to the HBR article's claims about listening providers and their traditional survey offerings, Perceptyx stands out with its flexible, purpose-built People Insights Platform. We agree that it’s time to take an entirely new approach to engagement surveys. Our platform eschews the one-size-fits-all questionnaire model, opting instead for a customizable framework that respects the unique cultural and operational nuances of each organization, with 10 factors and 40 themes to guide the listening programs we develop. This tailored approach ensures that our surveys are not simply tools for measurement, but rather must-have solutions that allow our customers to apply these employee insights and take action to realize the business outcomes that matter most.

At its foundation, our methodology transcends data collection and instead focuses on the actionable insights that are derived from it. Acknowledging the challenges that often stymie the translation of data into action — such as managerial disengagement, a nonexistent or lacking culture of improvement, and miscommunication — we’ve refined our solutions to simplify and streamline the actioning process. Integral to this evolution is our AI Insights Engine, which personalizes recommendations for individual managers and supercharges an organization-wide culture of accountability and continuous improvement.

The HBR article correctly emphasizes the importance of a multi-channel listening strategy that leverages both direct feedback and innovative methodologies such as passive data collection and ONA. Perceptyx's People Insights Model exemplifies this blend, offering a flexible yet rigorous framework that doesn't confine itself to a static set of questions. Instead, it's guided by a research-backed framework with associated benchmarks, enabling organizations to decode their employee experience with precision and drive targeted actions aligned to their unique business and talent priorities.

Beyond Surveys: Integrating Multiple Listening Features for a Holistic View

We agree with the HBR article’s emphasis on non-traditional KPIs like team success, innovation, and trends, and offer solutions that allow for seamless data capture and actioning on these metrics. For instance, the suggestion to measure new ideas bubbling across an organization is a perfect fit for Dialogue, which facilitates crowdsourcing and idea generation and has been shown to measurably improve business outcomes like safety in the healthcare industry. This capability illustrates how an understanding of engagement can extend beyond surveys, utilizing various features to capture the multifaceted nature of the employee experience.

The critique of the traditional "stale engagement survey" in the HBR article overlooks the evolution and adaptation of survey methodologies. Rooted in our more than two decades of listening experience, Perceptyx's point of view challenges this notion by emphasizing the importance of understanding the "why" behind employee sentiment, and then using that “why” to drive actionable improvement. Our People Insights Platform is designed not just to measure engagement but to explore the underlying reasons that motivate or detract from it. This approach aligns with the article's advocacy for a more nuanced understanding of employee engagement but does so within the framework of a comprehensive listening and actioning platform.

Built-in Action Planning with Personalized Insights

Of course, as the article correctly notes, the most important piece of the puzzle involves taking action based on the data. To address this need for actionable insights, the People Insights Platform includes advanced features that make action planning as simple as possible, including personalized recommendations powered by machine learning. Features like these allow organizations to not only gather insights but also recommend and successfully implement targeted actions in response. This capability demonstrates that the value of engagement surveys lies not only in measurement but also in their potential, when utilized as part of a comprehensive listening strategy, to drive meaningful change.

Perceptyx: Your Complete EX Solution

While the HBR article's critique of traditional employee engagement surveys highlights valid concerns, it overlooks the advancements and adaptability inherent in modern listening methodologies offered by a listening partner like Perceptyx. 

Our approach integrates comprehensive engagement measurement with customizable options, extensive benchmarking, and advanced analytics designed to capture and decode a wide array of employee experiences. This holistic approach ensures that organizations are not only effectively measuring engagement, but are also equipped to understand and act on the insights gained. Interested to learn more?  Schedule a meeting with a member of our team

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