Wait, so you don’t offer pulse surveys?

Not because we don’t believe that asking opinions from employees would be worthwhile. Not because it wouldn’t be good for business, but because we don’t believe that they would actually be useful to organisations.

These days, measuring and collecting data is easier than ever before. One could say that measurements and data is the new black. Once-a-year staff surveys have become a nuisance among the “modern” management, along with development discussions. Everything needs to be measured in real time once a week, or at least once a month. Because one needs to have one’s finger on the pulse of the organisation.

I myself have bought, created or sold employee surveys since the beginning of the 21st century. However, I haven’t seen any of the organisations actually getting any better just by collecting data. Actions speak louder than words. They always have and always will.

The biggest issue with these surveys is that they don’t lead to the desired change. Employees give feedback or suggestions for improvement, but those wishes are not understood or nobody wants to understand them. Or then nobody has the time to implement them, because everyone is so busy with other things. Especially when the “only” problem in the organisation seems to be internal communication, which is a big issue in every organisation. So if we really cross our fingers and hope for the best, the results might have changed by the next measurement.

It does not help that we then repeat the forementioned process 12 times a year. Of course, it’s great to tell the others that we are collecting data systematically, but the only concrete change this constant data measuring can create is a decline in responsiveness. Why even bother answering a survey that leads nowhere?

Another thing that constant measurement leads to is a degeneration of line management. Why bother asking colleagues how they’re doing or how can I help them, when they can simply express it in the pulse survey. That way, you get everyone’s wishes all at once. Measuring and collecting data to HR or into a reporting portal will NEVER replace the presence of a manager. Management cannot be outsourced to a survey or some portal.

A well-conducted employee survey always leads to action. After all, there are always three key stages in an employee survey: 1) measurement, 2) analysis and 3) development. The first two of these can be carried out at a fast frequency, but the third (almost always) lags behind or is not carried out at all.

The key to measuring employee satisfaction or experience is that it’s made personal (“I felt heard”), fast reaction (“this was discovered, that was done”) and following changes (“did the measures we took lead to the desired change”). Problems in the everyday life should come to the surface when meeting and talking with other people and in manager work, you don’t need a survey for that.

Now, you could ask a “Happy-or-Not” type of question in the employee surveys, but measuring it means that there is no promise of improvement. When such surveys have negative changes, you can then react to it with a targeted survey, for example: “Hello everyone! Our employee survey result has plummeted drastically in the last week. Could you help us understand why?”

The only purpose of employee surveys is to give understanding and improve the organisation. Take care that they really serve such a purpose. Don’t conduct surveys just for the sake of conducting them. Don’t conduct them just to collect a hell of a lot of data. Only actions can change the world. Which is why we don’t do pulse surveys, and never will.


Published 16.4.2019.
Still applies 30.1.2023 💪

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