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Do you know how engaged your employees are? If not, you’re not alone. Employee engagement surveys are becoming increasingly popular among employers as a way to measure how connected workers feel to their jobs. However, there is no one clear definition of “engagement,” and the results of these surveys can be difficult to interpret. In this blog post, we will discuss why engagement surveys have fallen into disrepute, and how you can use them to make a difference. There can be real value gained, but many leaders have become jaded about their use.

Critics list a number of reasons why employee engagement surveys are not worthwhile. Here are the top five:

1. Lack of a universal definition of engagement

2. The survey results may not tell you anything you can do anything about

3. Engagement has been shown to have only weak ties to employee performance

4. Surveys are often expensive and time-consuming to administer

5. There is no guarantee that employees will be honest in their responses

The experiences of many leaders may lead to these conclusions. But this is not because employee engagement surveys do not provide valuable information.

In my experience, there are two main reasons the use of employee engagement surveys fail.

Do You Act on the Results?

The first reason for failure is not acting on the survey results. Leaders often see the survey as a one-time event and do not follow up with any specific actions based on the results.

There is often a sense of being overwhelmed by the results. Where so we start? What should we do? When should we do it? As a result nothing happens.

This is a missed opportunity.

Leaders should not see employee engagement surveys as a one-time event, but rather as the start of a journey. The survey results provide data that can be used to make decisions about where to focus your efforts to improve employee engagement.

This is not a quick fix and will require ongoing effort and attention. But it is worth it.

One way to overcome this is to follow up with employees after they take the survey. Thank them for their time and let them know that the organization is committed to following up on the results and taking action.

Employees need to know that their feedback is valuable and that the organization is serious about making changes. If you can’t follow up on the survey results, then you should not conduct the survey in the first place.

You Tried to Fix the Wrong Thing

The second reason for failure is having a fundamental misunderstanding about what drives employee engagement.

For example, good communication is often reported as a problem in the organization. As a result, the leadership team spends a lot of time and energy on improving communication. But after six months, the employee engagement scores have not changed.

The reason for this is that communication is not a driver of engagement. It is an outcome. The real drivers of engagement are things like trust, respect, and feeling valued.

In addition, leaders often believe that the key to engagement is providing employees with more perks and benefits. They think that if they can just make their employees’ work lives a little easier, then they will be more engaged.

This is not true.

Employee engagement is not about making work easier. It’s about making work more meaningful and connected to employees’ personal lives.

The number one main factor in organization that drives employee engagement is the managerial leadership of the employee\’s manager.

When managers provide their employees with a clear sense of purpose, connect their work to the company’s mission, and give them the autonomy to do their jobs, they will be more engaged.

Our research shows that mangers spend just 55% of their time on value-added work. The rest of their time is spent on activities that do not add value to the organization or their employees.

Value-added work – that work which only you, in your role, with your capabilities, can do – includes managerial leadership. If you do not manage your team members, no-one else will. And if team members do not get context, clear delegation, feedback, coaching and support from you, they will not get it at all.

As a result, they will not be engaged.

To improve employee engagement, focus on the managerial leadership of the team and not on the symptomatic level feedback you have received from the survey.

The Bottom Line

Employee engagement is a complex issue and there is no silver bullet solution. Leaders need to be thoughtful about how they approach it and be prepared to put in the hard work required to make lasting change.

If you are considering conducting an employee engagement survey, make sure you are prepared to follow up on the results and take action. Otherwise, you are just setting yourself up for failure.

To get the most out of engagement surveys, leaders need to commit to taking action on the results and have a clear understanding of what drives employee engagement. Otherwise, they will just be wasting time and money.

And finally, remember that the key to engagement is not making work easier. It’s about making work more meaningful. Managers need to focus on doing the things that will have the biggest impact on their employees’ engagement levels. This means spending more time on coaching, mentoring, and providing feedback. It also means delegating more and micromanaging less.

To read more about employee engagement, check out this blog on the 5 Requirements of Effective Managers where you can also get free download of the white paper Empowerment 4.0