The limits of Engagement Surveys, with Andrew Tiscoe

As our Head of Account Management at Actimo, Andrew Tiscoe advocates Employee Engagement within Actimo as part of his daily interactions with our customers. Here, he shares with us how the world outside ticks in terms of engagement surveys and what he learned from his hands-on experiences with the topic.

Q: How did you come to the position you’re in today?

A: Having worked for workforce management company previously I really enjoyed working with HR professionals. When it was time to move on I knew I should work towards HR and Communication people, if I wanted to get something bigger from my work.

Q: You meet many HR professionals in your job and talk about employee engagement – do you see a pattern in how companies approach this topic?

A: While some companies do an engagement survey every six months, I see that most companies do this once a year.

Q: Do you think this is enough?

A: Certainly not. It seems impossible for a CEO to have any idea how engaged their workforce is by asking the team once or twice a year.

Q: Can you elaborate on that?

A: If I asked you “how are you doing?”, how would you answer? Would you think about the past 6, 12 or 24 months and give me an answer based on all this history plus today, or would you tell me how you were doing today?

If I as a manager want to know how you are doing generally, how things have been going in recent times, even if I asked you more specifically, how reliable can your answer be? Did you sleep well? Are you hungry? Did you meet the love of your life on the train this morning? Any one of these distractions and many others, can easily distort how you answer the question.

Q: The companies you work with are large enterprises, surely they know what they are doing?

A: Of course they do. However, the engagement survey has evolved, or the understanding of being able to take action has. My customers agree with what I say on this topic and many of them respond by saying that they do take action. My point is that taking action on responses from one or two data points might not be as insightful as you think.

Q: What do you think businesses should do instead?

A: My belief is you should continually run your engagement survey throughout the year. A monthly survey with the same questions to the same people delivers far more reliable data to action on.

When I talk to my customers, I pitch the idea of doing the annual survey as it is, and then from the responses take the most burning issue into a recurring survey. This way, you can track the change and also, you may find people are more engaged when they can see, follow and feel the follow up between each year.

Q: Any final thoughts?

A: It is very warming and enlightening to know that of all the companies I have spoken to in the last 12 months run engagement surveys. Leaders at the top really do want to know how engaged people feel and I believe the same leaders generally have a human interest in engaging their workforce.

In large enterprise the distance can feel very long across an organisation, so I believe doing regular, more transparent engagement activities is the way to shorten it.