Understanding Employee Perspectives is Critical to Success

Establishing a culture of engagement is a competitive advantage for any company.  Creating an engaging organization relies on a number of different factors; however, one of the most critical is gaining and leveraging input from your employees.  It’s not really about if you ask for feedback through surveys, 1:1 conversations, mentoring, etc., it is more about how you respond to the inputs and how it changes your organization.

Leaders want to create organizations that are exciting and great places to work; however, candid feedback from employees can provide enlightening information that may or may not align with the leader’s perspective.  Understanding this detail can be a catalyst to the success of the organization.

Employee surveys are nothing new and organizations have been attempting to take the pulse of the employee base for decades.  However in many instances, those surveys were seen only as HR initiatives by both the employee and management.  They were a necessary evil to comply with an underlying mandate to show compassion around the well being of the employee.  Because of this perception, employees didn’t wholeheartedly participate and the results generally became binders that collected dust on the shelves of management.  Don’t get me wrong, there were people within organizations that took this process seriously; however, without being fully embraced, success was limited.

I remember a time early in my management career, there was a big push to address survey results communicated by the employee base.  One of the executives leveraged what became an overused term of the time – Walk the Talk.  While this became a mantra within the company with a large internal marketing initiative, it really wasn’t embraced by management and soon became another failed attempt of adapting the organization based on input from the employees.

In today’s market you need candid & honest feedback even if it may be controversial.  You want to understand how well employees are emotionally committed and connected to the organization’s vision.  Lastly, it is imperative that employees feel like their input is being considered and leveraged in driving the success of the organization.

In order to ensure that you gather the right feedback, you need to ensure that you provide clarity on your purpose of the survey.  You need to communicate that you are truly looking to improve the overall success of the organization and understand that success at the individual level (personally and professionally) will drive organizational success.  You need to highlight what type of information you are asking for, what you will be doing with the information and most importantly, WHY you are asking for feedback.

Once the survey is completed make sure you identify key areas of focus, actions that will be taken and how you will measure improvement.  Be careful to not overextend yourself by trying to focus on too many things at once.  Be selective of the priority items to ensure that efforts will enhance performance and progress will be made.  Additionally, communicate this information with the team.  Again, it is critical that everyone sees their inputs being considered and leveraged.

Another critical element is the cadence by which you administer the surveys.  Many companies do annual surveys while others do them much more frequently.  If you try to do surveys too often, the leadership team will not have time to influence a difference in the organization.  You need to have time to make a difference … a noticeable difference that employees can recognize.  If you don’t complete surveys at least once per year, it will not be recognized by the employees.  One thing is for sure, it can’t be a ONE TIME activity… you need to measure … take action … measure again.

While the cadence of an official broad reaching employee survey can’t be more than 2 times per year, it is important that the organization continuously gathers input from individuals.  This can be done through a number of ways, including one on one meetings between employees and management, mentoring programs, and casual conversations.

In today’s market, there are a number of online/mobile applications that are designed to measure employee happiness & engagement.  myhappiness (myhappiness.io) is one such application that is designed to give individuals the ability to measure their happiness or how burnt out and frustrated they may be.  The application sends out daily notifications to employees to allow them to rate their happiness on a scale from 1 – 100.  It then allows them to rate individual areas of their lives (work, relationships, money, etc.) that are contributing to their happiness level.  Additionally, the individual can write comments on what’s impacting their day – positively or negatively.  This data can be aggregated at an organizational level to begin to give insight to employee happiness and their engagement at work.

No matter what method you use, it is critical in today’s competitive employment market to encourage employee engagement and make sure you are leveraging the information provided.


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