Why you can skip the annual employee survey

Anyone measuring the sentiments and engagement of their employees once a year will usually get a random result – and possibly draw the wrong conclusions.

Marco Meister

We know that surveys are always just a snapshot in time. Anyone measuring the sentiments and engagement of their employees once a year will usually get a random result – and possibly draw the wrong conclusions.

We all know how most large-scale annual employee surveys are conducted. At the beginning of the year, the survey preparation starts. Someone takes the time to scrutinized and rewrite every single question. They send out the approximately fifty question survey in countless languages to all employees sometime around spring or summer. Some receive it, some don’t. They send out surveys digitally by e-mail or as a link, or on paper with multiple choice questions. Much to the delight of non-desktop employees without a business e-mail address.

After the employees take a few weeks to respond, the process of evaluating all the responses takes place. The month-long processing of digital and written answers takes place. If the data sets and structure of the survey permit, it may be possible to assign them to countries, locations or perhaps teams.

Since the start of the survey, many weeks and sometimes months pass before the companies come together in teams to discuss measures. The result: measures are defined far too late and lack effectiveness. So you have unhappy employees who get the feeling that their survey answers weren’t taken seriously. The result is that employees no longer participate in the upcoming survey and some even leave the company. Things could be different… 

Pulse check surveys

A pulse check differs from traditional surveys in that it is conducted in a much shorter format, but with a higher frequency. The company literally stays on the pulse of the community. You receive a realistic, raw assessment of the status quo through recurring pulse checks. And most importantly, they gain insights rapidly, as the survey evaluation does not take months and risk that unhappy employees will leave the company in the meantime.

Pulse checks do not always have to be standardized and conducted with the entire company. Managers can create team-specific surveys and ask, for example, how the team felt about the collaboration on the most recent project.

It’s also possible to use a pulse check as a communication tool. Have you launched a leadership program in the company and are not sure whether all employees are aware of it? Just include the question in the pulse check and find out who already knows about it. If you did not already inform your employees, you can then post links to the description of the leadership program on the intranet. Thus, even the smallest measures are implemented immediately, and the pulse check suddenly becomes an interesting task and is no longer just an annoying request from the company.

Taking action

After a pulse check we evaluate areas for improvement in the company and defines targeted and proven measures in real-time, which we then evaluate in their effectiveness and long-term impact. This also enables you to provide your employees with an overview of all the action steps currently in place after each survey. Of course, it’s invaluable if you can specify a deadline for the implementation of a measure. Communicating negative feedback is essential as well. Otherwise, sentiments of suspicion and distrust will grow among employees.

The surveys are a continuous process. Once you implement a measure, its impact can be assessed in a subsequent pulse check. This shows your employees that you take them seriously and are making adjustments – encouraging them to take part in the next survey.

Of course, surveys should only include topics that are science based and relevant to the company. There is no point in fueling expectations among employees by asking questions that you know you cannot provide solutions for (such as job sharing or home office). And of course, regular pulse checks alone do not suffice: The values, vision and mission of your business must also be lived out by the management daily.

One thing is certain, however: our pulse checks provide you with the foundations for true employee engagement and employee experience. So, skip your annual survey with the same questions every year. Take advantage of the opportunities that regular pulse checks present.

With hands, head and heart atwork.

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