Guest Post: Employee Engagement Is Broken (How to Fix It)

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Stephen Huerta from Workify shares his thoughts on fixing employee engagement.

We’ve all been there. You are working toward the end of a company-wide initiative, and your star project manager, Sarah, pings you via Slack late-night on a Sunday and asks for a one-on-one the next day. She isn’t one to chat on Sunday nights. Immediately, your stomach drops.

“I’ve received an offer I can’t turn down,“ she starts. “I love working here, but I am still not seeing a clear path to advance my career and honestly, work/life balance is still non-existent. I am putting in my two weeks notice as of today.”

This was a complete blind spot, and the leadership team is going to be livid. This is the fifth loss of up-and-coming talent this month. The company is officially in brain-drain mode.

In your conversation, Sarah mentioned that she provided feedback multiple times. But where did the feedback go? How could this keep happening? When did her feelings hit a tipping point leading her to start taking calls from recruiters? There must have been a solution that could have prevented this from happening.You have no clear answers to these questions. You have no easy way to explain to your executives how this happened. You know things are being measured, but you have no clue how to get better data.

The reality is that, to address the issue, your company needs a better way to measure employee engagement. There is no easy fix to this problem.

Pitfalls of the Traditional Approach to Employee Surveying

The employee surveys that most companies know and leverage have roots in post World War II management practices. “Employee Attitude Surveys” were used in the late 1930s and after World War II to improve employee relations and loyalty.

Your business deserves a better solution.

Organizations have always needed a way to find out what their employees thought about the place they work. In the past, tracking results began with a paper survey. Employees would fill out questions, surveys would be collected, and decisions would be made based off the paper questionnaires. Though most companies have evolved and now leverage online platforms, the modern age has not improved the survey process.

In the Web 2.0 shift to online formats, companies and survey creators took the traditional survey approach and brought this to a web interface, Companies still use long, tedious surveys that collect massive amounts of data. These surveys are conducted once a year, maybe even once every two years. This is a process that doesn’t work for employees who often times never receive the results of the survey — and even more concerning — never see action taken based on their feedback.

Companies need a better solution.

Workers Are Annoyed and Distracted, and Solutions Aren’t Being Found

Employees are annoyed by filling out lengthy surveys which often cause distraction from work. To make matters worse, most companies have no idea what to do with the large amounts of data they collect.

To further compound this challenge, the shift in consumer technology habits and the accessibility of various communication tools has increasingly led to the younger workforce wanting more real-time feedback channels.

For most businesses, their employees are their greatest asset, so why find out how their greatest asset is feeling once a year, or every few years, through a process that doesn’t drive results? Nobody would do this with financial data, so why let it occur with a situation that involves real human beings?

Survey Providers Are Lacking Methodology

Even providers who share survey solutions don’t do so with a methodological approach. Their large data grabs are dumped on companies without providing directions or instructions on where to go with the data. This process is repeated continuously with little impact to the bottom line or causing influential change.

Your business deserves a better solution.

About the Author:
Stephen Huerta is the co-founder and CEO of Workify.