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Pretty much every company we work with has some sort of employee engagement survey. In PWC’s 2014 US Human Capital Effectiveness report (human capital is a term that seriously needs a rethink) they surveyed over 300 organisations – 86% of them have employee engagement surveys.

It’s great that wanting to understanding the engagement of your workforce is so prevalent in business today. But I don’t think it’s the metric that we really want to improve…

The metrics that organisations really want to improve are lowering attrition, reducing absenteeism and increasing revenue, quality and productivity.

And yet organisations treat the engagement survey results like they are the end-game.

“Hooray – our engagement survey went up 3.2 points vs last years survey”

If your scores come in showing staff are more engaged but attrition and absenteeism are still high, then big giant who cares?

We do this with quality too. It’s become so important to measure quality that the measuring itself is seen as more important than the resulting actions.

For example – We’ve observed some companies fail to even give employees the feedback from quality evaluations. In these cases it becomes clear that the purpose of quality monitoring is the scoring itself – not the feedback or improving performance.

And so it goes with employee engagement surveys. The performance of the survey is what matters most. Taking action and changing the way we do things so that engagement actually improves is seen as less important than the survey itself.

I’ll give you another example – Many companies outsource the employee engagement survey. Companies often spend thousands and thousands of pounds to do the survey. But how much money do they spend on interventions after the survey to actually improve engagement? What then, is actually more important?

Surveying engagement to find out what specific areas are performing well/poor is useful, as it signposts where you might need to invest more time and effort. But what value is there in the overall engagement score? You know – the result that most managers focus on…?

Personally, I would exclude the ‘overall score’ from the survey and focus instead on the real metrics that matter. Absenteeism. Attrition. Quality. Productivity.

What do you think? Do you think that there is real value in the overall employee engagement score?

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