Back in the 90’s employee engagement surveys became the rage. Of course many of the surveys and the data were being collected in the 80’s. One of the seminal studies was made famous by the Harvard Business Review demonstrating a connection between employee satisfaction and revenue/customer purchasing. It was about Sears in their heyday.
While US organizations spend over $700 million attempting to strengthen employee engagement, most of it is spent on surveys that do not work and not on efforts that do.
The Journal for Quality and Participation says that in many cases you are wasting your money. “The dirty little secret of employee engagement surveys is that they’re largely junk science.”
There are a number of problems with these surveys.
- The models were born in the 80’s and people still think they are relevant.
- Benchmark data can lead you astray by comparing your organization to averages and organizations that are either not relevant or face different challenges.
- Consulting firms provide recommendations that for problems that do not exist or have little impact.
- Action planning, the way it is handled, does not promote engagement principles.
- Organizations spend so much getting a picture of what their organization looks like from the survey, they invest little in actually impacting engagement.
- Survey companies have difficultly offering practical advice or understanding their client’s business.