What I Hate About Engagement Surveys

If you want to improve your engagement score, do your annual survey the day raises or bonuses are handed out.

Sure, sure. We hear you saying, “That’s cheating.” Maybe. But so what? As Stephen Smith will tell you, every engagement survey is only a snapshot of the day the survey is taken. It’s one of the 10 things he hates about engagement surveys.

“I hate engagement surveys. Absolutely can’t stand them,” he told a Des Moines DisruptHR audience last month. “Not only do I hate them, I came up with 10 reasons why I hate them.”

We aren’t going to list them all; watch his 5 minute talk to hear him explain what’s wrong with engagement and the surveys almost everyone does to measure it. But among the 10 is the snapshot effect, which measures engagement at one moment in time.

Then there’s the question of what exactly is engagement and how precisely do we measure it. And what does it mean. Smith, an I/O psychologist, says HR people will say, “Engagement predicts success.” He asks, “Are you sure success doesn’t predict engagement?” Sort of a chicken or egg issue, he says.

And then, once you have the results of your survey, what do you do next? “They’re not actionable.”

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What’s his advice? Dump the engagement survey? Not exactly. “Make these things behavior based,” Smith advises. The surveys measure what people say, but as mothers everywhere will tell you, “Actions speak louder than words.” So take action by clicking on the video.

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