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You will be missed! R.I.P. - Employee Engagement Surveys (1991-2016)

August 04, 2016 by Kevin Freitas

In 2015, millennials, those aged 18–34, surpassed Generation Xers and Baby Boomers as the most dominant generation in the global workforce. Recognized for being inventive, technologically competent, and reliant on interaction with their peers and leaders for motivation, millennials are watching their influence in the workplace grow.

As the power of employed millennials grows, so does the importance of their effective engagement; companies imperil themselves if they do not react to this changing workforce demographic. With technology speeding up most corporate processes, all working generations are in need of real-time feedback. While many corporations seek out customer insights on tools such as Google Plus, TripAdvisor, and Yelp, corporations are still not leveraging platforms that gauge employee insights and feedback in a similar real-time manner. A company’s employees, similar to its customers, are in need of continuous and instant modes of communication that make their input feel valuable. In the face of a modernizing world, infrequent, lengthy year-end surveys are a figment of the past.

One of the reasons annual employee engagement polls are not as impactful rests in the questions they ask. Vague inquiries, such as the “circle-all-that apply” questions (“I like my employer,” or “I have a great community at work”) are defeating because they do not align with the company’s capability to fix the issue. Mark Murphy, a contributor for Forbes, sums up this problem accurately: “If you don’t know exactly what actions will fix a situation, don’t ask a question about it until you do.” If a staff member were to not circle the “I like my employer” option, what would the company’s response be? Pointed questions such as these are easier asked than acted upon.

Next, because survey results are numerically based, these tests drive some companies to focus on the score, not actually producing useful and structure-changing data. Research conducted by the American Psychology Association found that a customer’s perception of a business was shaped in part by how he or she viewed the activity, customer service and passion of its employees. This report, as well as others such as one conducted by Hay Group that found revenues of highly engaged companies were up to 250% higher than their disengaged counterparts, motivate companies to pursue high worker satisfaction. As someone personally involved with Human Resources, I saw how easy it was for employers to ask pointed questions that draw on a year’s worth of memory and produce invalid responses that might reflect positively on leadership without addressing underlying issues or trends.

To further illustrate the faults of the current survey model, one Harvard Business Review report showed that although 70% of executives rate employee engagement as essential to corporate success, only 24% believe employees are effectively engaged. Even with companies “spending nearlythree-quarters of a billion dollars in an effort to improve employee engagement,” during 2015, employee engagement levels remained stagnant (Gallup).

InMobi and the New Model

The ineffectiveness of the old model has paved the way for a newer one here at InMobi. Because a motivated employee typically feels heard and valued, the new process of employee engagement must include real-time continuously updated feedback and insights. At InMobi, we value the ideas of our workers. Recognized by MIT Technology Review as one of the 50 Most Disruptive Companies in the world, and with over 690 million users globally, we realize that in order for our rapidly growing corporation to continue achieving the success we have seen thus far, we must prioritize the present satisfaction and perception of our employees.

Actively monitoring the feedback of our workforce has been made possible through our use of Hyphen, a San Francisco based start-up that offers solutions to the disconnect in the workplace. Hyphen does this by providing a combination of top-down Pulse Surveys and a bottom-up employee generated conversations. Employees can anonymously ask questions, experience quick responses and begin conversations they feel are important. By crowdsourcing ideas, offering unique pulse surveys (periodically repeated questions whose responses are translated to trends), alerts, prioritized polls and comments, and segmented analysis, Hyphen will help us remain constantly aware of what is important to our employees. An additional bonus of the model is the platform’s integration with Slack, which many of our employees currently use to communicate.

We trust that by actively interacting with our over 900+ employees worldwide, we will not only witness increases in business outcomes such as revenue and customer loyalty, but will also see an improvement in efficiency, satisfaction and performance.

This new model will lead to better employee retention, the acquisition of innovative ideas from different levels of employees, and an overall increase in corporate productivity.

A CLC study on worker loyalty found that corporations with passionate and active workers were less likely to leave their companies than disengaged equivalents by 87%. By continuously reacting to the needs of InMobi’s workforce through Hyphen’s live feedback, we hope to create an environment that current and potential employees will thrive in.

By providing a safe place for workers to anonymously pose ideas or congratulate their coworkers, and by offering immediate responses via department and geographically-based channels, we believe we will see the proliferation of amazing ideas that workers may otherwise forget to voice or feel uncomfortable presenting. Lastly, by generating a positive, open climate for our workers, we believe we will also see an increase in productivity.Harvard Business Review noted that employees who experienced employer appreciation were more likely to demonstrate higher energy, and be more involved in and satisfied with their work. Since all that InMobi can ask of its workers is their best, we believe that by having a better sense of the workplace, we will see intrinsically motivated outcomes.

With the millennial generation comprising an ever-growing portion of the global workforce, and with technology transforming the way the world does business, the age of ineffective employee engagement and satisfaction surveys is over. In its place businesses must look to the newer model that allows the employee to feel heard and valued everyday, and will in turn create a healthy and high performance work environment.

Note: This article written was by Kevin FreitasGlobal Head of Recruiting & Rewards at InMobi and originally appeared on peoplematters.in

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