It's a perfectly reasonable thing. To be successful, companies need people. But people have moods and situations that affect their contributions. So as part of a positive business culture, you need to know what those situations are to positively impact them.
Theoretically, your EES should give you the required intel. But the typical survey is often useless because it fails to delve deeply enough to allow organizations to predict and influence the factors that truly affect their employees' contributions.
Why? Here are three typical errors:
You're Only Focused on Work
The typical EES tends to focus solely on employees' relationship to work and work related entities: how the company mission resonates; how engaged employees are; whether they like their supervisor; whether they're happy with the food in the cafe. The problem is that those questions miss the reality that 4/5 of a person's distractions have nothing to do with work; more than likely, the big issues are outside of the workplace, maybe in employees' financial wellness or family. By missing this, your EES loses its power to help you predict the noise that's affecting peak performances and to settle it.
You're Only Measuring a Single Moment in Time
A standard EES is measured annually. But in healthy, growing organizations, time doesn't stand still. Annual surveys are additionally vulnerable because the focus tends to be on specific work groups, projects, or people, many of whom change during the course of the year. All that means your EES lacks a longitudinal relevance, even if you conduct it year after year. Unless your organization is content with stasis (another issue for another blog post), this makes the follow-up actions less relevant for the new groups.
You Stick to the Safe Questions
It's not uncommon for organizations to stop asking questions they think they already know the answer to or that they feel powerless to change. After all, why antagonize the workforce by asking for feedback in areas the organization cannot impact? So the survey then becomes a measure of what an organization is comfortable knowing (or already knows) versus a true measure of what it needs to know about its people, warts and all.When you look at those three elements, you see a survey that's less a valuable tool and more a vanity project designed to make leadership feel better. But real intel is going to come with some information you may not be happy to hear, but that will fuel goals that will make your response programs actual investments versus useless (and expensive) window dressing.
How do you do that? Check back for part II - three steps to creating an EES that works.