The Crisis of Confidence in Employee Engagement

I’ve noticed an interesting trend in employee reactions to engagement surveys. More employees are participating in employee surveys than at any other time (76-90%); however, only 50% of employees are confident that changes will be made as a result of employee engagement surveys.
A DecisionWise study of more than 180,000 employees confirms this crisis of confidence in employee engagement, indicating increased employee skepticism about the outcomes of an engagement survey. When employees experience this lack of confidence, their responses to the survey will be skewed and the organization will be less likely to receive sincere feedback from their employees.
The crisis of confidence is cultivated by ineffective, internal practices. Multiple practices could contribute to the trend of skepticism about employee engagement surveys:

  • Lack of communication prior to survey launch.
  • Little or no executive support of engagement survey.
  • Unstructured follow-up procedures.
  • Vocalized skepticism about the survey from leaders.
  • Unnecessary delays in reporting the survey results.

Regardless of which practices are causing the lack of confidence in the survey, the crisis of confidence must be fixed before an organization will get valid, actionable employee engagement survey results.
To increase confidence and reduce skepticism, the survey process must be properly communicated to all participants prior to the survey launch, during the survey process, and after the results are received. Leaders should be trained on the definition of engagement, the reasons for measuring engagement, and how to respond to engagement results. Employees ought to be involved in the action planning following the survey process and feel they have a voice in deciding how to fix problems identified in the survey. Employee engagement results should be integrated into organization-wide communications including newsletters, blogs, etc. With proper communication and training, organizations can dodge the crisis of confidence.
Have you experienced a “crisis of confidence” when running an employee engagement survey? If so, how did you deal with it? What do you see as the best practices for increasing employee confidence in feedback assessments?
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