“We’ve been having our employees take this employee engagement survey for 2 years. The scores on the survey go up. But the work is not getting better. Productivity is down, turnover is up,  and customer satisfaction is down.”

Above was the lament of a buddy over beers.  He is a Vice President in an HMO.

This is common with companies and managers who are removed from the work. They believe that a magic survey or assessment will solve morale & other perceived people problems.

What happens is people game the survey results. The survey questions create a bias towards certain responses, managers & co-workers affect the responses, and everyone is unclear about the terms & words (i.e., Do you have a best friend at work?).

I asked my buddy, “What happens with the survey results?”

“Sr. management adds them to the agenda … They run out of time to discuss  … They choose to delegate the task to Human Resources.”

Sent him the 5 Levers of Employee Engagement and some advice.

5 Levers for Employee Engagement Create Learning Michael Cardus

Surveys and data are nice, BUT it does not change the work and peoples’ thoughts & behavior.

Changes to how the work gets done, change how people work.

STOP waiting for HR & management to figure something out.

START by looking at your work and immediate team.
  1. Make a list of all the people on your team.
  2. Clearly define the value you add to their work.  NOT their lives … their work.
  3. Define the work output that you create that your manager is accountable for.
  4. Define the work of your team AND what parts of their work you are accountable for.
  5. Ask friends and co-workers what you can do to be clearer about work expectations and how you can help them get their work done.
  6. Using the 5 Levers of Employee Engagement, identify which levers are working well.
  7. List evidence you see that it is working well. How do others see this lever working well?
  8. Using the 5 Levers of Employee Engagement, identify a lever to strengthen. How can you support that lever while maintaining success with the other levers?
  9. Define 2 to 3 short observable actions to take immediately and keep track of your progress/regress.
  10. Repeat

Stop the external survey taking; it neuters the judgment of the people who work and actually know how to recognize engagement.