By Joanne Lockwood (she/her), founder and CEO of SEE Change Happen, and a Diversity & Inclusion Specialist who also promotes transgender awareness to organisations.
It is a fantastic intention to want to know what our colleagues and staff think of their organisation and what better way to do it then to complete an annual Employee Engagement Survey? But are we really getting the insights we need, or will the results be too limited to give us a true understanding about inclusion and the culture and pulse of the organisation?
Firstly, we know that organisations often make the mistake of not asking the right questions or worse still solely focus inwardly. When looking at belonging and inclusion the measurements we need to look at are about feelings. One of the most insightful questions I think is ‘Do you have the chance to use your strengths every day at work?’ which looks at motivation and engagement. We need to ask our people how they feel, not what they think. Do you feel included, engaged, challenged, safe and valued?
Secondly, when organisations shy away from collecting demographic data in their surveys, we don’t know who it is that isn’t happy or satisfied and where the areas of concern lie. Drilling we down we need to know are individuals from marginalised communities less engaged and the department or teams they work in so we can address the concerns and culture in those specific areas.
Organisations that struggle to get high levels of responses to an engagement survey or observe a large number “prefer not to say” entries need to rethink what they are asking and if colleagues understand why it relates to them. If the organisation’s culture is strong then employees will feel psychologically safe to have an opinion that may differ from others and to be able to offer true feedback to their employers. It comes down to trust.
Finally, and you might be shocked by this, organisations tend to survey too infrequently. Whilst no one wants to fill out a daily 50-question survey and survey fatigue definitely can exist, usually the problem is actually ‘lack of action fatigue’. This means that results are not published in a timely and meaningful way and don’t highlight the actions and insights that need to happen. Respondents don’t feel change and development are occurring, or at least aren’t visible and transparent. Those polled get tired of responding because after all, what’s the point? The alternative is changing the mantra to one of ‘You Said, We Did’. Let’s find ways to feel the pulse regularly and to find solutions before small issues become large, cavernous voids in company culture.