Anomalies in employee-engagement surveys

One survey suggests that only 22 per cent of employers think that employee-engagement surveys are helpful


During the pandemic, especially during the first complete lockdown, when all employees were working from home, the major concern for companies was employee engagement. With personal and professional boundaries getting blurred, employees were drained working from home. After all, the much needed face-to-face human interaction in real time was missing. This resulted in very low engagement levels.

Sitting at home, how can one expect people to engage with others? Interestingly, one of the surveys conducted by a leadership assessment and coaching company suggests that only 22 per cent of employers believe that their employee- engagement surveys are helpful. Almost 4000 HR professionals took part in the study!

Amidst so much of uncertainty and chaos at the workplace, questioning the employee-engagement surveys is a cause of concern. So why do these employee-engagement surveys fail to give effective results?

“Employee-engagement surveys are an activity or rather, a tool for employees to bring about a change, so why will they not use it? It just we need t make them understand how important it is”

Tuhin Biswas, CHRO, Emami

Many HR leaders in the industry believe that employee-engagement surveys are one of the most powerful tools, if used correctly and with some planning. “I swear by the employee-engagement surveys and I think that it is the most powerful tool to bring about any transformation within the company,” says Manoj Kumar Sharma, CHRO, Aarti Industries.

Culture and intention: It also depends on the intention of the company itself. “In my experience, employee-engagement surveys have always come in handy. However, the effectiveness of the survey depends on the culture of the organisation,” shares Tuhin Biswas, CHRO, Emami.

Many of the organisations or the HR teams take it as a KRA or just another duty to be fulfilled. They undertake employee-engagement surveys just for the sake of it and end up not taking any action based on the results. “It depends entirely on the culture of the organisation, whether they wish to listen to their employees or not,” says Biswas.

Participation: Meaningful insights can be gained out of employee-engagement surveys and similar studies, only when responses are gathered from maximum number of employees. When more employees respond, it is possible for the company to identify key issues that require attention. One of the major issues we face is, companies often trying to resolve all issues at the same time and ending up creating a mess.

Planning: As Sharma explains, employee-engagement surveys will fall apart if they are not planned well. He shares how he manages to get insights out of such surveys and plans the actionable points in the organisation. As per Sharma, the surveys need to be systematically planned. The insights or actionable points need to be divided into levels — manager level, location level and organisational level. Further, these insights and actionable points can be divided into short-term, mid-term or long-term plans. This way, any company would be able to characterise and prioritise everything.

“Employee-engagement surveys are one of the best tools for the HR, if used in a planned way”

Manoj Kumar Sharma, CHRO, Aarti Industries

“Like I said, employee-engagement surveys are one of the best tools for the HR, if used in a planned way,” says Sharma.

Seriousness: As we all are aware, employee-engagement surveys cannot be conducted every day in a company. Either they are an annual event or take place twice in a month. As some of the HR leaders state, it almost takes one 25 to 30 minutes to fill this survey. How does one expect employees to spare such time?

Managers and team members are anyway overwhelmed with so much of work. Since many may not fill the survey seriously, it may be difficult for the organisation to get qualitative data out of the whole engagement.

“Employee-engagement surveys are an activity or rather, a tool for employees to bring about a change, so why will they not use it? It is just that we need to make them—especially those at the shop floor — understand how important it is,” asserts Biswas.

Mode: Sharma also emphasises on the correct dissemination of the survey and adequate mode of communication used.

Also, to make sure that most employees take part in the survey, the HR team has to play a role. “The HR team is always geared to follow up and support the employees during the process,” mentions Biswas.

On the other hand, Sharma suggests that it is better for organisations to seek help from vendors and other organisations who specialise in such employee-engagement surveys. It is their speciality and they can do a much better job of culling out qualitative insights from these employee-engagement surveys.

An employee-engagement survey can serve as a powerful weapon not just for the organisation but the employees as well. It is their voice. Sharma recalls from his past experiences, that such surveys have always been a tool of change, not just at Aarti Industries, but in a majority of organisations. “I have seen processes being changed, training programmes discontinued and systems altered based on such surveys,” shares Sharma.

Comment on the Article

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

10 − 7 =