When it comes to measuring employee engagement, annual surveys are about as useful as a magic 8 ball for gathering employee feedback. They’re too infrequent, too long and can’t be measured properly. It’s likely you already know this, and you're looking for a more meaningful way to test the temperature of your workforce. The answer, you’ll be glad to know, is at hand: pulse surveys.
Despite having the best intentions of driving innovation, many business still fall back on tradition, with the outmoded annual review being a prime example.
There is, of course, merit in looking at year-on-year measurements. Harder financial metrics such as bottom line performance are best observed in consistent and foreseeable environments, and therefore lend themselves to annual – or perhaps quarterly – reviews.
This logic has simply been carried across into HR structures. The presumption is, if you want to see trends in your workforce, good or bad, then you needed similarly large chunks of data to compare and contrast.
However the problem is people are not numbers and this approach leads to a very scant, unreliable snapshot of your workforce.
What do you remember of last year? Your holidays, sure. And perhaps a few standout weekends. Oh and definitely that awful stomach bug. However anything more granular than this and the details become a little hazy.
The fact of the matter is our memories do not serve us well when it comes to the everyday. If you’re struggling to remember what you did on your birthday, how on earth are you supposed to remember that Wednesday when your manager dumped a tornado of work on your desk?
On top of this, the results can offer an incomplete picture of your workforce. Sending a 10-page questionnaire once a year, covering everything from the quality of office stationery to management structures, is not going to yield usable data.
The solution to this is fairly straightforward: regularly checking in with your employees without the formalities, focussing on specific topics. However managing this manually, particularly in bigger companies, is impossible. The admin alone would be a full-time position.
Enter the pulse survey.
The name itself works twofold, referring both to its administration (in short, frequent bursts) and its purpose (to feel the pulse of your business).
Its function is to administer and collect snippets of data from your employees, over a set period of time, and present a whole picture of how your business is running.
Think of it like a jigsaw. Where an annual survey would dump 500 or so fragments in a pile on your desk, a pulse survey has assembled the pieces for you. And by removing the grunt work, it gives you more time to spend interpreting the data and making the necessary changes.
Short, frequent survey questions are a good starting point – but more can be done to streamline employee feedback. If you’re looking to get the best results, you need to ask the right questions, look at the metrics that matter and interpret the results in a meaningful way.
This is why we created Perkbox Insights. Designed as an agile pulse survey tool, it enables HR to gather and act on feedback in a way that improves both company culture and performance.
It’s all very well discussing the theory behind pulse surveys but how can the tool revolutionise your employee feedback?
How many of your employees actually make it to the end of an annual survey? It’s likely a pretty small number. According to one study, only 30% of employees actually complete annual surveys.
Think about this from a personal perspective: how many times have you been confronted by a two-page questionnaire and given up without even trying? Now try and imagine being given 10 pages at work with the need for written answers.
However, if you feed employees shorter, snappier questions in a digestible cadence, the response rates will far exceed that of an annual survey. In fact, research cited in Forbes claimed that pulse surveys response rates averaged out at 85%.
Annual surveys or one-off questionnaires will only ever tell you what your employees feel in that moment. This is a painfully two-dimensional window into your employee’s experience of work. Moods change, circumstances differ – company culture itself is not a fixed entity but fluid.
It’s why sending regular bursts of questions makes much more sense. By continuously listening to employees, revisiting topics and tracking change over time, you can build a three-dimensional picture of your company culture, and actually fix problems as they happen.
Measuring “engagement” can be like trying to catch air. From employee testimonials to exit interviews to engagement surveys, HR is awash with data. It all appears to be valid but just doesn’t fit together.
Harmonising your results can be the hardest part of gathering feedback, which is why Insights houses everything under one roof. Separated into 10 key areas, all your data is vetted and ordered before you even come to look at it. You’ll also have access to a real-time dashboard, where you can review in-depth results and track your evolving engagement score.
Knowing the questions to ask is the hardest part of creating a survey. What will resonate with your employees and what will miss the mark? This is hard to answer from a management perspective without going directly to employees, which in turn spoils any confidentiality. Moreover, getting your questions right could take several iterations of the survey, creating more work for HR.
Insights has solved this problem by providing a bank of preset, science-backed questions that have been extensively researched. What’s more, the same questions have been used by all users, giving you a firm and tangible benchmark to compare your results with.
Interpreting human data is not easy. In fact it’s one of the biggest debates in modern psychology. Being faced with survey results can be a shock to the system, particularly if the responsibility falls on one person. Positive comments, negative comments, what do these results actually tell you when weighed up?
Instead of sifting through the headache of answers, Insights comes with a highly visual breakdown of your results. Ultimately this helps you cut through the clutter so you can quickly identify your company’s strengths and weaknesses.