I have a confession to make. It’s probably not one an internal communicator should make, but it’s my opinion and I wish to share it. I really don’t see the value in the annual employee survey. Eek, there I said it! Yes, of course there is some use in the thing, but let’s face it, how many times have you been in an organisation where at least one of the following has happened:
  • The survey comes out just at the time either job losses or a large bonus is announced
  • The survey results are finally published four months after the employee diligently completed the form by which time everyone has forgotten what they’d written and have probably changed their minds by then anyway
  • Response rate is less than 50%
  • The team’s manager bribed their colleagues to give good scores so they ‘all look good’
  • Nothing much has changed since last time, or if it has we’re can’t remember
Of course, it’s part of my job to ensure that none of the above are actually allowed to happen. But admit it. They inevitably do.

The employee survey costs a small fortune, takes hours and hours of time and often achieves very little. Don’t get me wrong. There are many companies who perform the exercise very well and both learn and implement a great deal from it. But is there another way?

I was at an event this week where the HR Director of Diesel was asked how he measured engagement. His answer brought joy to my heart. He uses gut feel, instinct. He spends the money he might have spent on a survey doing more of the things he knows his people respond to. Yes, it’s a small business where you can more easily gauge audience reaction, but how refreshing that a director was willing to use that gift we all seem to forget about – intuition.

Isn’t the concept of creating a continuous two-way dialogue something we should embrace  more. Why wait a whole year to discover that your employees don’t trust their Board or that they’d happily recommend your organisation to their friends and family.

Every organisation with a pc has at its disposal the tools to gather information for free – just start a blog and ask questions. Or you could even try that most basic of tools - talking! 

Use your budget wisely and trust your instincts.


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