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Is it Time to Leave Traditional Employee Engagement Surveys in the Past?



The 2010s were revolutionary across many levels, taking HR technology to a higher level. But it’s time to embrace the 20s and leave outdated techniques behind.


That includes one of HR professionals’ favourite methods – employee surveys. Although over 74 percent of companies use them to gauge engagement, 85 percent of workers are disengaged.

They either rely on inaccurate data or surveys no longer have the same efficacy level. The post-pandemic era and tech evolution require a more thoughtful and human-centric approach.


Thus, the world of work has changed drastically, and new generations of employees have different expectations. Young Millennials and Gen-Z aren’t fans of annual performance reviews and traditional surveys.


These generations are tech-savvy and spend a significant part of their days in the digital realm. As a result, they prefer when their employers are straight to the point and act upon feedback.


Answering annual questionnaires and waiting for a response isn’t how Millennials and Gen-Z prefer to express their opinions. They are straightforward and love brands that have the power to create communities based on shared interests and passions.


Workplaces are no different. These two appreciate employers who bring people together and prioritize inclusion. But how does that make engagement surveys obsolete?


Why are Employee Engagement Surveys Outmoded?


1. They Provide Snapshots of Past Moments


Companies often believe that employee surveys are the best they can do to determine how their workers feel. They use them to adjust their strategies and help people perform their jobs better.

However, that’s among the critical employee survey disadvantages. These tools only allow employers to act after something has already happened.


Workers rarely get the opportunity to share their struggles and thoughts in real-time. Instead, they only report issues when it might be too late.


That stops companies from taking a proactive approach and reacting to the first signs of potential problems. Moreover, it prevents them from providing support to employees before things escalate and become too severe not to be noticeable.


After all, employee surveys only provide a snapshot of past moments. As a result, employers can only react when something has already caused damage.


2. Many Employees Feel Uncomfortable Answering


Employee surveys can only work if a company fosters a culture of trust, positivity, and openness. That encourages workers to talk about their issues and reach out for help.


However, if the work environment is hostile and exclusive, no number of questionnaires will be enough for people to open up and be honest about what troubles them.


Things are even more challenging if an employee suffers from workplace bullying or feels uncomfortable talking with their manager. They will likely have trust issues and feel reluctant to reveal what they’re going through.


Surveys won’t change that. A company must establish a friendly community to build trust and cultivate honest conversations.


However, workplaces with a negative culture aren’t the only reason employees hesitate to write their opinions and viewpoints. Some people find formal questionnaires daunting, even if they’re anonymous.


They might feel more comfortable talking in person or with someone they know well. Thus, a company with a tight-knit community doesn’t even need to run surveys to assess how its employees feel.


Instead, they have regular conversations and meetings where workers can express their viewpoints and emotions. Without that, employers will find it hard to understand the motivation, intention, and thought process behind someone’s response and action.


3. Inability to Identify Patterns


Most companies run annual employee surveys and use a single data point. But that makes it impossible to detect patterns and understand underlying issues driving workers’ behavior and performance.


Yet, it’s crucial to spot what events and conflicts caused riffs and discord buildup. Workers often forget to mention them in annual questionnaires due to the time that passed.


Because of that, employers will struggle to understand what lead to workplace animosity or poor team dynamics. Moreover, they will lack the necessary data to prevent these issues from happening again.


4. Surveys are Inefficient in Scale-ups


Scale-up businesses transform fast, needing better strategies and methods. But traditional surveys can rarely follow this transition and evolve with the company.


They’re not as fluid and often operate on outdated data. Thus, if a business starts a survey while scaling up, the insights they will collect will Companies that plan to change their structure or hire more workers should use techniques that make tracking workplace sentiments in real-time possible.


They need a more proactive response than organis


ations with well-established foundations because rapid transformations often cause unexpected issues and challenges.


5. Surveys aren’t Cost-Effective


Employee surveys require thoughtful preparation, resources, and efficient delivery. You can’t invite workers to fill out questionnaires today and expect their responses the same day.


Instead, you should first notify your staff and clarify what the survey aims to achieve and how you plan to respond to their feedback. Moreover, this process also includes administrative costs concerning questionnaire development, delivery, and evaluation.


Your HR professionals will have to invest time in preparing them and encouraging employees to participate. Workers’ productivity could also suffer as they must pause their tasks to fill out your surveys.


Another challenge you could encounter is a low response rate. In that case, you would waste time and resources and not get the desired insights.


6. Poorly Worded Surveys Can Cause Inaccurate Interpretations


Surveys should include meaningful and relevant questions that pinpoint crucial workplace issues, challenges, and opportunities. They should be well-structured and coherent.


Otherwise, employees could misinterpret the inquiries, leading to skewed results and inaccurate insights. Thus, if your questions aren’t precise, people could take them in the wrong way or find them offensive.


7. Slow Response to Feedback Could Frustrate Employees


Workers don’t only participate in surveys to help the company. They expect employers to use their feedback as a guide in improving the workplace and solving significant issues.


Moreover, employees might hope for results faster than HR professionals can evaluate their answers. Hence, if companies don’t take action right away, people could refuse to participate in future surveys.


8. Examining the Data is Taxing


HR professionals must sit through hours of data to analyze employees’ responses and form an accurate conclusion. That requires sharp focus, an unbiased approach, and patience.

Therefore, your HR team would have to delay other tasks until they assess every review. Yet, they might not reach significant talking points that drive efficient strategies and impact company performance.


9. No Follow-Up Questions


Although employee surveys allow asking critical questions, follow-ups are impossible. Yet, the latter is often more significant than starting the conversation.


You might discover some of your employees are struggling or suffering from bullying, but if the survey was anonymous, you have no chance of delving deeper into the problem. Even if they can include their identities, you’ll only get the opportunity to ask additional questions after evaluating the results and setting individual meetings.


But that could make employees feel ambushed and reluctant to discuss the issue more profoundly. Without these insights, you’ll struggle with understanding the complexity of aspects impacting their job satisfaction, well-being, professional development, etc.


10. Surveys are Typically Inconsistent


Not many companies run employee surveys more than a few months per year or annually. As a result, they will likely struggle to discern issues that could potentially cause trouble now and those already forgotten.


That makes the employer’s response incomplete and, in some cases, faulty. You should know what problems require you to address them promptly and what should stay in the past.


What is a Good Substitute for Employee Surveys?


Everything starts with developing a culture of trust and having employees feel comfortable and safe in the workplace. That gives them the courage to reach out when in need and let you know if they struggle.


Even if workers feel uncomfortable being straightforward or asking for help, they’ll be more eager to talk if you reach out to them after noticing something is wrong. Without a positive work environment, healthy team dynamics, and supportive managers, assessment tools are not likely to bring the results you hope to see.


Establish a community of people who are at ease with each other, respect their coworkers, and feel safe to share their opinions and struggles. Once you achieve that, it will be easier to get their buy-in and understand how they prefer to deliver their reviews and feedback.


However, modern communication platforms are the most efficient method for collecting data, starting meaningful conversations, asking follow-up questions, and assessing engagement. These tools don’t impose on employees nor prevent you from taking a proactive approach.


Instead, they’re the digital reflection of your tight-knot workplace community. Shoogle is among the best examples.


This comprehensive app helps you establish rapport with employees, touch on relevant topics, and notice behavioural changes before issues escalate. However, they won’t feel forced to participate or perceive your questions as forced.


Traditional surveys often feel artificial and compulsory. But Shoogle app nurtures ongoing communication and encourages employees to share when they’re going through something without feeling cornered.


Moreover, this app allows you to build connections with your staff and know their needs, affinities, and troubles. That way, you’ll identify when someone changes their mood or loses motivation without them telling you.


As a result, you’ll be able to take immediate action and help your employees promptly. You will develop consistent initiatives and show that you care for them every day and not only when conducting surveys.

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Even though they were efficient in the past and helped companies assess and drive employee engagement, surveys are becoming obsolete. They fail to provide a holistic approach to tracking and measuring workplace sentiments and prevent you from being proactive.


Team collaboration apps cultivate regular communication and provide a well-rounded method for assessing employees’ performance, motivation, and happiness. But more than everything, they don’t feel forced and allow you to meet and genuinely understand your workers.

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