Depending on which surveys you look at, somewhere between 70% to 85% of employees in the workforce are not engaged. Those are discouraging numbers for employers, because disengaged employees score lower in productivity metrics than they should. In practical terms, that means they contribute less, lack motivation and show little interest in their work.
Disengagement is also costly, to the tune of billions of dollars annually in the United States alone. It makes sense, then, that employers want to know what they can do to promote engagement on the job.
Enter the employee survey.
Survey 1.0: Satisfaction ≠ Engagement
Employee surveys gauge an employee’s motivation, attitude and satisfaction at work – at least they should. But not all surveys are created equal.
Seasoned wage earners have probably taken dozens, if not hundreds, of employee surveys throughout their careers. In the early days, these surveys focused strictly on satisfaction metrics, aiming to discover whether employees were happy at work.
Unfortunately, this often resulted in metrics that showed a high percentage of satisfied employees even while underlying issues like leadership mismatches or policy changes were causing serious productivity issues.
The problem with focusing on employee satisfaction alone is that satisfied employees aren’t always engaged employees. Satisfaction can be a by-product of engagement, but it’s not the primary indicator. To be truly engaged, an employee must be both satisfied and contributing.
Survey 2.0: Engagement, Science and Results
As more research on engagement has been conducted over the past ten years or so, surveys have shifted to include both employee satisfaction and engagement metrics. These surveys have focused primarily on what the employer is looking for, such as:
- Understanding the company’s goals
- Possessing the right abilities for the job
- Emotional intelligence
- Collaboration with and loyalty to coworkers
- Interactions with management
These surveys introduced science-based analysis to identify follow-up items that link to business metrics, and they focus on questions that connect to specific performance drivers. In other words, engagement surveys aim to measure how well the employee understands and supports company objectives and initiatives.
Engagement benefits employers, so it makes sense that it should be linked to company objectives and productivity. But that’s still not quite hitting the mark in terms of promoting more productive contributions, higher loyalty and intrinsic motivation among employees as they go about their daily work.
The New Age of Employee Surveys: Empowering Experiences
The emerging science of workplace experience analysis has already become widely adopted by companies hoping to attract, engage and retain the best employees. Experiences matter because employees are more than just their work. They are affected by many factors every day, some of which happen outside the workplace. These experiences extend beyond satisfaction and engagement to include every aspect of the employee’s interaction with your company, from the candidate process to your culture to opportunities for personal growth.
The complete employee experience is focused less on what the employer wants and more on what employees look for in a job. In this environment, effective surveys must analyze a wide range of experience-related topics, including:
- Exciting, meaningful work
- Education and career opportunities
Known as the RESPECT framework, this approach pinpoints what employees want from their work, what they love about their jobs and what motivates them. Honest answers to questions in these seven categories will help you empathize with your employees and design better workflow solutions to support employees.
As you gain a clearer understanding of what your employees experience at work on a daily basis – both positive and negative – you will be able to cultivate engagement from the ground up. By considering these multi-faceted experiences as you develop your engagement strategy, you can promote stronger employee buy-in, increased trust and deeper engagement.