What you're getting wrong with employee engagement data

Introduction

Employee engagement data can be a bit of a daunting topic for HR departments. Of course, looking after employees and making sure that their working environment is the best it can be is what HR departments are for, but working out how best to do that job can be a real challenge.

Collecting employee engagement data presents a number of difficulties right from the off because it’s a phrase that means different things to different people. We’re going to start by going through what employee engagement data actually is (or should be), and then move on to discuss some of the common problems that companies have when collecting it, and then finally how to solve those issues.

employee concentrating

What is employee engagement data?

One of the biggest challenges companies face when deciding how to measure employee engagement is that there are a number of different definitions of the phrase.

To some people, engagement is about feeling happy at work; to others, it’s about being engaged with your work. Could it instead be about being energised by your work, or about doing work that is meaningful to you. Could it be all of the above?

It’s probably best to adopt a definition that combines your employees’ personal happiness with how happy they feel in their work. At Perkbox we’re firm believers that making sure your employees are happy and healthy generally is key to maximising your company’s success. However, we’re aware that different companies have different priorities, so it’s crucial to decide what those are before you embark on the challenge of collecting your data.

Data face

How do we usually collect employee engagement data?

Once companies have decided what employee engagement means to them, there’s the equally challenging question of how to collect it. A lot of companies collect the data themselves, others outsource the work to survey providers (more on that later), and some use a hybrid approach.

When it comes to in-house data collection, many companies rely on the good old annual (or quarterly) survey. Employees are sent pages and pages of questions on a wide range of issues, ranging from how valued they feel at the company and how much difference they make to how they feel about the stationary available to them.

employee looking at screen

The “easiest” surveys for employees to complete are ones that allow them to select 1-5 style responses based on how much they agree with a statement, whilst others will encourage employees to write out paragraphs. Too many 1-5 questions and employees get bored with the apparently negligible difference between the questions; but too many paragraph questions also cause employees’ eyes to gloss over and skip ahead.

The challenges of putting together a yearly survey are sometimes minimised by quarterly reviews, but even these carry with them the same problems associated with this traditional model of collecting employee engagement article.

Even if a survey strikes the right balance, it will still end up giving you a large lump of raw data. So, what do you do with this data?

Employee data on table

The problem with raw data

We’ve looked at some of the issues involved in putting an annual or quarterly survey together; now let’s go through some of the issues that arise one the data itself has actually been collected.

1. Quantity rather than quality

Annual surveys result in a large dump of information that may not be entirely accurate. Summing up a year’s worth of experience working at a company into a sleepy Thursday afternoon questionnaire is likely to reflect the mood of that sleepy Thursday. Feedback is likely to be generic and put together without much thought.

Anyone who’s ever completed a survey knows that they are usually done for procrastination purposes, or for the promise of entry into a prize draw. This means that the large amounts of raw data that you receive (depending on the size of your company) is likely to be of a lower quality.

On the flip side, although it’s likely that you’ll end up with a huge amount of data that is hard to read, sending out a large survey can also lead to poor rates of completion, meaning that even though you have what appears to be a lot of responses in front of you, it doesn’t reflect a large percentage of your workforce.

2. It isn’t quantifiable

The “best” surveys would allow employees to put down all of their thoughts, positive, negative, hopes and dreams about their work on a piece of paper, and then for each of those to be catered to personally. Of course, this isn’t realistic. You can’t quantify these kinds of answers into anything like usable data. Personal though they may be, these surveys are actually pretty unlikely to result in any concrete changes that benefit the workforce as a whole.

3. It’s time-consuming

HR teams have enough on their plates without having to trawl through several hundred surveys that complain about the water cooler on level 3. Open-ended questions require a lot of time to read and analyse, let alone respond to.

Even if surveys do strike a balance between 1-5 style questions and more open-ended ones, it still requires a lot of hours to sift through the data and work out what it all means and what needs to be done with it. When these surveys are only sent out once a year, there’s a lot of data to analyse, and as we discussed earlier, it won’t necessarily be of any use anyway.

Add to that the time required to actually compile and send out the survey in the first place, and the many reminder and follow-up emails imploring colleagues to fill them out, and pretty soon HR teams can feel like their life is being taken up by the company’s annual survey.

Stressed out employee

What is the best way to collect employee engagement data?

As we’ve mentioned already, striking the right balance between 1-5 style questions and giving employees the opportunity the express their balance can help annual or quarterly surveys, but there’s more that can be done.

This is where Perkbox’ Insights comes in. Having gone through all the problems associated with employee engagement, from what it is to what to do with it, Insights is an effective way to let Perkbox do the hard work for you.

Insights involves sending short pulse surveys much more frequently to your employees that contain pre-approved questions that you can use to gather and act on feedback in a way that will benefit both your company’s working culture and performance.

It also allows you to benchmark your company’s performance against others. Results are analysed and compiled for you and presented in an accessible way. The frequent but short nature of Insights surveys strikes the perfect balance between avoiding survey fatigue and ensuring that responses are relevant.

Looking for a bit more information?

The bottom line here is that problems associated with collecting and analysing employee engagement data are much easier to tackle than you might have realised. By choosing to move away from traditional means of surveying, you'll ultimately start collecting cleaner, more useful employee data.

If you're sold on how Insights can improve your business, or would just like to find out more, the click below: