Webinar: How to Measure DEI in Your Engagement Survey

Date: Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Time: 1:00pm Eastern / 10:00 am Pacific

Presenters: Christian Nielson, Chief Revenue Officer, DecisionWise; Matthew Wride, President, DecisionWise

Cost: Free

Care for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is critical for any modern organization. But how do you best measure the current state of DEI and surface opportunities for improvement? During this webinar, Matthew Wride, President, and Christian Nielson, Chief Revenue Officer, will discuss the best techniques to include DEI as key component of an employee engagement survey.

Register and reserve your spot today!

This Webinar qualifies for SHRM and HRCI credit.

Newsletter: June 24, 2022

Tidbits: Juneteenth and Equality

This rings true for us because we are a feedback company. We know that the hearer is just as important as the speaker.

“No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.”
― Frederick Douglass

Acts of injustice weaken the victims, but they eventually destroy the perpetrators.  

We are unquestionably connected to each other, which is why every leader needs to consider the experience they are creating for their teams and organizations.

Brilliant in the Basics: People and Their Data Are Not the Same Thing

We care about data at DecisionWise. Our mission is to deliver people data and insights that help our clients make the best decisions. However, the more we deliver on this value proposition, the more we realize that organizations risk becoming too focused on the data, forgetting that there are real human beings behind the charts and visualizations. In our quest to describe, categorize, and possibly predict, we cannot lose sight of the fact that we are measuring people, not widgets.

For example, we know of trackers and beacons that can tell us how much time employees spend collaborating or, from a darker perspective, how much time they spend away from their desks. The amount of people data is only increasing as we discover new ways to mine data exhausts and use machine learning to organize vast amounts of unstructured data. Are people and their data the same thing? No, they are not.  

We quote a recent HBR article by David De Cremer and Jakob Stollberger: 

Introducing and reinforcing a mindset where people are reduced to their data can create a work culture that may harm performance and employee experience more than anticipated. Therefore, organizations adopting [people analytics] must not turn HR departments into IT departments focused on monitoring and optimizing workers’ efficiency but must ensure they safeguard employee interests in empowering ways.

For today’s Brilliant in the Basics, what ways can we safeguard employee data?

  1. Be transparent with all data collection activities – let employees know how the data is being gathered (when, where, how) and, most importantly, tell them how it will be used and analyzed.
  2. Prioritize data that solicits feedback over data that merely monitors or surmises what is happening.
  3. Believe your employees; avoid the temptation to infer too much from circumstantial evidence/data.
  4. Consider adopting a data ethics policy that publicly governs how people data will be captured, stored, and used. Publish this policy and follow it.

As we move forward seeking to expand the effectiveness of people analytics, let’s not forget that people and their underlying data are not the same thing.

This month, we are focused on ways to help our clients and HR professionals improve employee engagement within their organizations. As previously noted, we cannot improve employee engagement directly. Instead, we indirectly enhance employee engagement through the employee experience(s) we create and cultivate. In particular, we know that the key intersection we must focus on is the experience leaders create for their individual teams. We call this focal point – Leader Driven Experience.

Today’s discussion will focus on how to take action on org-level surveys, such as annual surveys or a group of onboarding surveys. Here are some basic principles we have learned over the years.  

Rule #1: Be Ready to Do Something. Repeatedly, we tell our clients that it is far worse to conduct a survey if no one is going to do anything with the survey results. Our goal is to create a virtuous feedback cycle: gather feedback, review the results, take action to improve things, and repeat the process. However, this cycle will only work if employees see that their voice leads to positive change. Otherwise, asking for feedback, but ignoring it, will lead to increased dissatisfaction.

Rule #2: Don’t Try and Fix Everything All at Once. As noted, positive change must occur. When you try and solve everything all at once, you run the risk of initiating a lot of activity without realizing any accomplishments. It is better to fix only one or two things and achieve your established goals.

Rule #3: Quick Win – First Do No Harm. Charlie Munger, Warren Buffet’s close friend and business partner, teaches that the first step in business is – don’t be stupid! We need to eliminate our mistakes before we try to be brilliant. In the spirit of his suggestion, look to see if your results have uncovered cultural toxins hurting your employee experience. Get rid of them. This is what we call improvement through subtraction.

What are some examples of cultural toxins?  

  • Managers that cultivate an “us vs. them” mentality.
  • Poor performers that demotivate others.
  • Company policies that are from the dark ages, such as dress codes that belong in the 80s.
  • Leaders that motivate through fear.

Rule #4: Quick Win – Find Easy Victories. Look for small steps you can affirmatively take that will demonstrate two things. First, you are listening, and second, you will act based on employee feedback. Hopefully, this will kickstart our virtuous feedback cycle into motion. Some quick victories, for example, include rolling out survey results to teams so each group can ask questions relevant to their situation. Or as was the case with one of our own surveys, we uncovered that we needed a much larger trash can in the production room. We bought one the next day.

Rule #5: Finally, Choose a Hard Slog (Maybe Two). After addressing your quick wins, choose one core area that will receive most of your team’s deliberate focus and attention. Spreading your attention across various areas means that some incremental improvements may happen, but nothing sticks long-term. You do not cross the tipping point for any one of the areas you are looking to improve. Instead, remain focused on a single challenge

For example, let’s assume your results indicate that people feel abandoned after 30 days on the job. At first, they get a lot of attention, but then everyone assumes the trainings are sufficient, and there is a noticeable drop-off in time and attention given to new employees. Just fix that issue. Do not worry about what’s happening at their anniversary mark. Don’t worry about improving their first day at the organization. Instead, figure out how to continue providing support on day 31 etc.

Our five rules provide us with an overarching rule of thumb. When examining survey results, try fixing two to three quick victories for every hard slog you tackle. This general guidance will help employees see that change can occur, but it also ensures you go beyond cosmetic challenges.

What’s Happening at DecisionWise


Care for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is critical for any modern organization. But how do you best measure the current state of DEI and surface opportunities for improvement?


HR News Roundup 

Here are some other great tips and resources from the past two weeks, curated to save you some time.

Newsletter: June 10, 2022


This week we honor D-Day. This quote, however, not only touches upon the vagaries of war but also upon the challenges inside organizations. The difference between success and failure is often just a tiny sliver of land, a simple strategy, or whatever the case may be.

All we can say is, Currahee!

Brilliant on the Basics

Did you know language has the power to change the way you see and analyze the world?

“If you’re familiar with the principle of linguistic relativity, it states that the way people think of the world is influenced directly by the language that the people use to talk about it. Or more radically, people [can] only perceive aspects of the world for which their language has words.”

What does this mean for those who handle assessments, surveys, and other measurement tools? It means we must be careful to eliminate cultural and linguistic biases, especially when working with multi-national organizations that traverse languages, boundaries, and cultures. In some languages, abstractions are represented by verbs, in others by nouns.

Pro tip: We recommend having someone review a translation for cultural fit and context. Do not exclusively rely on pre-packaged translations or computer-generated translations.

Out of the gate, it is essential to note that employee engagement is not an activity or even an HR initiative; instead, employee engagement is an outcome. Employee engagement is the beneficial result of managing the four layers of the employee experience.  

At its core, employee engagement is an emotional state where employees are invested in their work and, in turn, give discretionary effort that benefits the organization and its mission. When engagement is high, we find employees who have a strong sense of meaning and impact; they are thriving inside appropriate levels of autonomy, growing and developing, and have a strong sense of belonging (connection to the organization and their team).  

Our goal within Strategic HR/Organizational Development is to build and foster employee engagement by helping leaders make decisions that cultivate a strong employee experience. A strong employee experience is the pathway to improving employee engagement.  

A helpful model for conceptualizing this effort is what I call the “Four Experience Layers.” Throughout the organization, leaders at various levels have responsibility for these four different layers.  

Experience Layer #1: Base Culture (C Suite) First, every organization has a base culture, which can be defined simply as “the way things work” at a particular organization. An organization’s base culture is primarily the product of foundational decisions such as:
  • Mission and purpose (Software vs. Manufacturing)
  • Products or services (Beef Jerky vs. Online Gaming)
  • Customer or client base (teenagers vs. homeowners)
  • Geographical location (Wall Street vs. Silicon Valley)
  • Founders’ ideologies (Patagonia vs. Fox News)
  • Industry type (Crypto vs. Medical Devices)

Base culture is the first layer of the employee experience. For example, if you are in the business of developing online games, your culture will likely be focused on youth, vitality, fun, etc. These cultural characteristics result from foundational choices to develop and sell online games, and these foundational choices are the purview of the most senior leaders – the C Suite.

Experience Layer #2: Strategic Culture (Senior Leaders) 

The following experience layer is where choice is inserted into the process. Senior leaders oversee this layer (C Suite, VPs, etc.). Leaders shape their base culture at this stage as they focus on creating a deliberate culture.   

At this level, leaders start defining how employees should behave and act. They develop specific answers to this question: What does it mean to be an employee of this organization?  They help define how employees and leaders should think, feel, behave, etc. 

Experience Layer #3: The Employee Experience (Strategic HR) 

The Employee Experience is the third layer. This layer is the organization’s culture through the eyes of its employees. A strong employee experience helps an organization attract fresh talent and keep its top performers. All leaders share some responsibility for this layer, but this is certainly where HR should step in to help shoulder the load.  

Experience Layer #4: Leader Driven Experience (Frontline Leaders)

Of all the experience layers we manage, this is by far the most important. This layer focuses exclusively on that key intersection between employee and direct supervisor. Our research clearly demonstrates that of the various facets of an employee’s relationship with an organization, this association is singularly significant.  

This layer has two stewards. First, senior leaders are responsible for helping baseline leaders know how and what to communicate and teach through the organization. In addition, senior leaders are accountable for teaching frontline leaders what it means to be a leader within the organization — what behaviors and competencies are expected of them. 

The second and primary steward of Leader Driven Experience is the direct leader or frontline leader. At this level, direct leaders should be focused on three obligations:

  1. Advocate for the Organization. We are not asking direct leaders to become corporate cheerleaders, but frontline leaders are responsible for ensuring that employees do not adopt an “us vs. them” mentality. In addition, direct leaders are the single best conduit to convey senior leaders’ vital messages and build connection and belonging between the organization and the employee.
  2. Model Good Behaviors. We need frontline leaders to understand the behaviors expected of them and then strive for excellence. Don’t just talk about your organization’s leadership brand – be the brand in how you interact with and lead others.
  3. Define Your Employees’ Purpose, Path, and Place. Ask yourself each day, what experience am I creating right now? Remember that it is the direct leader’s primary job to ensure that each employee has a purpose, path, and place within the organization.

An organization that is constantly tending and cultivating these four experience layers, particularly the fourth layer, will benefit from higher levels of employee engagement. Again, while each layer is important, the data is clear: Leader Driven Experience is the single best way to improve employee engagement. #LDX

What’s Happening at DecisionWise

Upcoming Webinar Image


Every organization has ways they can elevate the experience they are providing their employees, and much of this is tied to improving employee engagement.


HR News Roundup 

Here are some other great tips and resources from the past two weeks, curated to save you some time.

Newsletter: May 27, 2022


"​In God we trust. All others must bring data."​ -W. Edwards Deming

So true. In our modern society, our systems and processes are highly complex. This means our decisions are complicated, too. A great way to improve decision-making is to improve the quality of data that informs the decision-making process.

"Data is the new oil. It's a powerful resource that can help you transform your business, make better decisions, and drive growth."​ -Kirk Borne, Data Scientist

Those that find ways to improve their data and data sources will be the winners in the next 10-15 years.

"The best decisions come from a mix of intuition and analysis."​ -Sridhar Vembu, Founder and CEO of Zoho

A good reminder that data alone can’t tell the whole story.

Brilliant on the Basics

We recently received updated survey results for a client, and they reminded us of a key principle in our business. It has to do with action planning for survey results.

If you uncover a problem in the results, look for a solution, then work on implementing the answer, and you will see positive results.

It’s axiomatic: we improve what we pay attention to, and this sentiment can be encapsulated in a famous quote attributed to the management expert, Peter Drucker, “What gets measured gets improved.” 

In one area of this client’s survey, they started tracking how frequently feedback was being provided to employees by their managers. That’s all they did. What happened to their scores in this area? They went up by nine percentage points in one year. They simply tracked what was happening and managers caught on quickly.

Organizational Caring and the Psychological Contract-Image

Organizational Caring and the Psychological Contract

In our research, we have many clients that ask their employees whether they agree with this statement: “This organization cares about its employees.” While most organizations find themselves in an acceptable range, some are given an answer that is loud and resounding; “No, you don’t care about us.”

What happens when employees stop believing their organization cares about them? What should leaders do in this situation? Can something be done to reverse things? The key to answering this question is to understand what caring looks like from an organizational perspective.

When we talk about care within a team or between associates, we are talking about personal empathy, small acts of support and kindness, and bonding at an interpersonal level. Care at the organizational level, however, is shown much differently. In our view, organizational care is best demonstrated when an organization honors its Psychological Contract with its employees, and care evaporates when the organization takes actions that undermine employee trust.

The Psychological Contract is the unwritten, implicit set of expectations and obligations that define the terms of what it means to belong to an organization. The Psychological Contract anchors the employee to the organization and helps them understand, even if implicitly, why they are there, why they matter, and why they belong.

An organization’s Psychological Contract can be broken down into four common archetypes, although there are countless variations of the Psychological Contract:

Work as a Family. In this context, employees bond with each other and with the organization as if the workplace is a family dedicated to a common cause. Values and behaviors such as loyalty and sacrifice are highly prized, and the organization is fully invested in giving its employees a place where their personal and work lives blend. Belonging is at a premium. The Employer sets the mission, but employees become fully invested due to a strong sense of family. The employer achieves its mission through a group of highly motivated employees. Work as a family is most often seen in smaller organizations, as it requires tremendous effort the more employees an organization hires.

Work as a Transaction. The employer and employee need each other. The employer needs employee effort, and employees see the employer as way to gain resources to accomplish their personal goals. Work-life and home-life are kept separate. In this situation, the employer defines the mission, and employees are okay with whatever – as long as the transaction is fair. The employer is happy when effort is obtained, and the employee is happy when the paycheck is deposited. The employer uses its employees to succeed at its goals and priorities.

Work as a Scorecard. This archetype views the relationship as transactional, but both parties take the give-and-take nature of the relationship to the extreme. This scenario is characterized by employers competing for talent, always looking for the latest and greatest ways to attract and retain the best talent. Talented employees have a personal brand and are free agents that move around, seeking to maximize their resumes and bank accounts. Both sides are climbing the ladder, seeking even better opportunities. Yet, loyalty is thin. In this archetype, the employer sets the mission, but the employee also cares about the mission because it reflects upon their personal brand. In sum, the employer incentivizes its employees in order to succeed at its mission.

Work as a Partnership. The overall mission is important to both the employer and the employee. There is alignment between employer and employee, and they view each other as partners in achieving a set of common goals. Trust must be high between both parties, and both the employer and employees must pull their weight. When working well, this scenario finds the employer achieving its mission with its employees, and employees see their employer as a place and a path towards achieving their goals. There is strong alignment between employer and employees.

The foundation to the Psychological Contract is that both parties have a good sense of what the contract means and both parties strive to honor their side of the bargain. There is not necessarily a right or wrong archetype or variation on the Psychological Contract to be chosen. The most important consideration is that an organization must be true to the archetype that actually exists. The quickest way to violate trust and to receive low caring scores is to talk as if the Psychological Contract is built upon one archetype but behave according to the rules of another. For example, you can’t promote a family brand, but behave entirely on a transactional basis.

Breaches in the Psychological Contract happen when one party, either the employer or the employees, breaches its commitments. When employees breach the Psychological Contract, results are less dramatic. An employee leaves for a better fit, or the organization forces a separation, but the effects are felt only on a case-by-case basis. When the organization, however, breaches the Psychological Contract, consequences are more acute and widespread; large swaths of employees disengage and look for other opportunities.

Evidence of org-level breaches often involve the following behaviors, which signify low trust:

  • Employee concerns remain unaddressed for lengthy periods of time.
  • Avenues for employee voice disappear, and the organization stops listening.
  • The organization is slow to take action to solve known challenges.
  • Employees feel abandoned and wonder if, or when, things will change. “Who knows what will come next?”
  • Power is unequal; the implicit message is that the organization has all the power.
  • Senior leaders show a lack of empathy and sympathy.
  • Rules replace principles. Instead of establishing principles of how the Psychological Contract will be honored, minute rules are used to exert greater control.
  • Contributions are viewed as being unequal. It is felt that employees are expected to give heart and soul, while the employer is viewed as giving only what the market demands (i.e., the lowest amount possible).
  • Employees want to be treated as stakeholders, but the organization sees them as resources, widgets, or as simple cogs in the machine.

One way to address organizational breaches is to look at things through the lens of trust – knowing that care and trust are highly correlated, if not representative of the same idea. Charles Green developed a trust quotient or trust equation, which he described as follows:

Trustworthiness=(Credibility X Reliability X Intimacy)/(Self-Orientation [Interest])

When organizations attempt to recover caring, my advice is to focus on the trust question by doing the following:

 1. Remember that engagement, satisfaction, and happiness depend less on the conditions in which one works and more on whether expectations are aligned and met.

2. Your organization isn’t real, your people are. People, not legal entities, get things done. Organizations are what we call a legal fiction; they are simply a name-branded intellectual exercise.

3. Understand and faithfully honor your Psychological Contract. There are six pillars to any strong Psychological Contract:

  • Fairness
  • Clarity
  • Empathy
  • Predictability
  • Transparency
  • Accountability

If leaders follow these six pillars within their Psychological Contract, the rest will take care of itself. Employees will feel valued and cared for, and trust will become a free-flowing lubricant to help get things done.

What’s Happening at DecisionWise

Upcoming Webinar Image


Every organization has ways they can elevate the experience they are providing their employees, and much of this is tied to improving employee engagement. Join us as Christian Nielson, Chief Strategy Officer, and Dave Long, Chief Operating Officer, discuss how to improve employee engagement.


HR News Roundup 

March 18, 2022

DecisionWise digest

Welcome to our revamped newsletter! In the past, our newsletter featured some content and a few announcements from DecisionWise. We are changing things up a bit, and we hope to bring you a newsletter that will make you want to spend 10 minutes each week reading it. As an aside, our first section is titled, “Brilliant on the Basics” and will focus on tips and articles to help you focus on those principles that are vital in leading people. This section’s title references a program adopted by the U.S. Navy. More information on what the Navy is doing can be found here.

We hope you enjoy our new format. If you have any comments or suggestions, please email us at info@decisionwise.com

Brilliant on the Basics

Flexible working arrangements are doing more than improving sales for sweatpants. Fundamentally, remote working arrangements are making it harder to recruit talent. Now, anyone can compete for talent anywhere. To illustrate, let’s consider how it’s impacting us here at DecisionWise.

Historically, if someone wanted to stay in the intermountain west, we were their logical choice. We had our pick of candidates because there was a consistent pool of candidates who wanted to stay nearby. Now, these same employees can live locally but work almost anywhere. Our competition has just become companies in Georgia, Texas, and California, to name but a few.

So, what can be done to help organizations attract and retain the best candidates? Here are few tips to consider:

  • Understand your organization’s “why” and seek those who share this exact same why.
  • Be clear about your employee value proposition; survey your current employees to find out what keeps them around (their answers will likely surprise you). Here is a great perspective on what to ask team members.
  • Don’t just list your traditional features and benefits, tell your unique story. Good marketers understand that highlighting features and benefits won’t get you very far. Instead, paint a picture and tell a compelling story. Do the same with your candidates. Paint for them a picture of success; tell them a story of how they will do great things within your organization.
  • Respect your candidates and their choices. Be both transparent and professional. It’s a two-way street, everyone needs to up their game.
  • Find your ace(s) in the hole. Here in Utah, we have long been able to rely on our built-in geographical advantages – access to the outdoors, great skiing, a place that seems like it was purpose-built to be an outdoor playground. We assumed candidates understood these amenities. Now, we are hoping to do a better job helping candidates envision themselves not only in a cubicle, but also on a river in one of Utah’s stunning national forests.

In summary, to up your chances of attracting and retaining the best talent, know your organization’s why, understand your EVP, and seek to leverage your built-in advantages.

Our featured discussion this week showcases four new content hubs that we recently launched. These content hubs are comprehensive and thoughtful. They are designed to be your go-to-resource to answer all your questions surrounding these four topics:

Each content hub provides in-depth information about the underlying science and the best practices needed to both measure and understand the core areas that comprise the Employee Experience.

We have kept promotional information in these content hubs to a minimum. We are confident you will want to bookmark these pages for future reference. Happy reading!

What’s Happening at DecisionWise


We want to let our readers know that we have an online training that teaches the basics of our Engagement MAGIC® model. “This is another great step forward for DecisionWise,” said Tracy Maylett, Ed.D, CEO of DecisionWise. “Our research is clear that employee engagement is most influential at the team level, and the manager of that team has a significant impact on the engagement levels of the team. We have been successfully providing this world-class training in live workshop settings for several years, and now we are thrilled to offer it in an online format.” 



Date: Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Time: 1:00pm Eastern / 10:00 am Pacific

Presenters: Charles Rogel, VP of Consulting, Decisionwise; David Long, COO, DecisionWise;

Cost: Free

Join us as we review our 2021 global employee survey benchmarks and discuss the major trends and changes impacting the employee experience. DecisionWise COO, David Long, and VP of Consulting Services, Charles Rogel, will summarize the major topics of 2021 and provide predictions on what to expect and plan for in 2022 as it relates to employee engagement.

Topics we will cover in this session:

  • What is influencing the Great Resignation?
  • Work from Home vs. Return to Office: What is the right mix?
  • The growing importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • How has the pandemic impacted organization culture?
  • How has collaboration changed with employees working from home?


HR News Roundup 

  • Josh Bersin argues that because of labor conditions, the best way to ensure continued growth is by redesigning the organization. Do you agree? Article
  • This is an interesting look at how we can start using the gig economy in our workforce planning efforts. Ultimately what is needed is access to talent. This doesn’t always have to look like an employee sitting in an office or cubicle. Other relationships have the potential to provide businesses with what they need but inside a different wrapper. Article
  • We have all been there. Hoping to be funny, we say something that goes terribly awry. This just happened to a Toronto company who placed welcome-back signs for its employees, and they totally missed the mark. Just another reminder to make sure your messaging respects your employees. Article
  • The Drucker Institute released its list of top 250 companies for Employee Engagement and Development. This is a who’s-who of great companies and much can be learned from examining what these organizations are doing well. Article
  • Here is a look at the need for psychological safety in creating the right culture/Employee Experience. Article