Employee Engagement vs. Employee Surveys and Polls

Stop surveying and start engaging your employees! If you look at Capterra portal for the employee engagement solutions, you will find yourself in a micro-universe of platforms and tools that will promise to change the way you understand, engage and motivate your employees. There is one big point to be made here - too many companies on the list are survey focused! How many? Well, 67 out of 230 platforms on the list push surveys, polls and real-time employee feedback loop functionality as their main offer.

I am not going to deny that yes, surveys play a role in all of this, but they are far from being the best choice to drive engagement. Gauging happiness via a poll or survey... once - maybe, but I think there is a better path a company can take instead of choosing surveys and polls as their key employee engagement capabilities. 

Global look with the help of Google Trends reveals that ever since 2004 - "employee engagement" has steadily risen in popularity. In fact, if you trace the yellow line on the chart it is at its peak relative popularity as of this year. "Employee feedback", "employee survey", and alike have been steadily decreasing in popularity based on search query keyword data from Google.

In layman terms, more people are searching for "employee engagement" year after year. Want to explore this data - here's a link for you or just click on the image itself - we've linked it to a Google Trends search query for you.

One other big problem with using employee engagement surveys is trust. Everyone understands that there is no such thing as 100% anonymous and employees understand it too. That's why it's why surveys also become a very relative gauge of happiness or engagement among employees.

True digital employee engagement goes far beyond surveys and feedback. Engagement measurement is a lot of moving, technology-enabled pieces combined together - it can be game-like mechanics and elements, employee social collaboration and communication, employee performance and achievement recognition, performance and goal personalization. In case of sales, customer support or contact center environments - employee engagement goes into team contests and friendly competition. Overlapping of social elements, competitive elements, performance recognition and multiple teams related communication functionalities - just start to scratch the surface of technology-enabled, digital employee engagement. It is all of the above components moving together as one system that starts to become an employee engagement measurement system. And, this is not even going into analysis and reporting layer that would be on top of all of the above.

As a manager what are the things you can observe in employees that give signals of their engagement, motivation, happiness, and desire to work? I can tell you what we do in case of nGUVU - we track over a dozen work performance related points alone to see if an employee is engaged. We also use a points system that becomes an aggregate index by itself that can highlight if a worker engagement is up or down. For example - here is a leaderboard tracking a call center performance across multiple categories:

temp_blog_engagment vs survey.png

See all of the points to the left - these are only work/result oriented performance points among other mechanisms and functionality that highlights performance and engagement.

What can be other things that would highlight engagement? Allow me to share a few examples here: a number of employee to employee or employee to the team platform interactions (social cheers, high five, thumb up type social action for example), participation or initiation of challenges and contests, avatar customization, quality of work  performance data, gamified training data and more. See, how this easily becomes a system that has hundreds of indicators and data points in the background, with some of them publicly visible - and all of these data points relentlessly collect data. In case of nGUVU, our platform collects and crunches all of this data in such a way that it highlights employee engagement. It goes beyond just measuring - the platform also allows managers to engage with the employees, motivate, inspire them and communicate to them all in an effort to keep them engaged, happy, and motivated.

So, if you're thinking about an employee engagement project or finding a platform. Think twice before settling for a simple survey, polling or "real-time" employee feedback loop software.