With global workplace engagement currently at 15 percent, company leaders naturally seek out employee feedback as a means of addressing employee engagement. Employee engagement software offers a streamlined way to collect and analyze employee feedback, providing anonymity and reporting tools such as dashboards, trend analysis, and score reports. However, not all employee engagement software can effectively measure engagement, and many programs are unable to deliver insight that addresses issues related to low engagement such as turnover, absenteeism, and poor performance.
Instead of helping you build an engaged workforce, the employee engagement software you’re using may actually be standing in your way. Here are eight ways typical employee engagement software might be failing you:
Doesn’t Empower Employees
Empowerment is a key factor in improving employee engagement. According to an SHRM study, 70 percent of employees ranked being empowered to take action at work when a problem or opportunity arose as an important element of their engagement. Yet, instead of empowering employees, typical employee engagement software limits the employee voice to survey responses. Such surveys ask every employee the same few questions, with limited options and fixed responses. Similar limitations abound in performance review platforms, which often limit employee responses to a finite number of raters andfail to collect rich feedback about employee experiences with peers, direct reports, and other coworkers. By failing to ask employees questions about the most meaningful experiences they have at work—the ones they have with other people—many engagement surveys and performance review systems fail to empower employees to talk about the things that matter to them.
Unlike traditional employee surveys and review systems, the ideal employee engagement solution offers:
- Opportunities for employees to provide feedback on all of their experiences at work, not just through fixed survey responses
- Employees experience ratings beyond the manager, to include individuals above, below, inside, and outside their department
Doesn’t Return Feedback to Individuals
Employee engagement is impacted by more than someone’s relationship with the company, their manager, and their work. It’s also impacted by employees’ relationships with peers inside and outside their department, as well as other managers. However, the typical employee engagement survey ignores that reality. Traditional employee survey software uses employee feedback in a bottom-up fashion, providing data to HR and company leaders only. By failing to return any actionable feedback to employees and managers, typical engagement software deprives them of knowing how their actions in the workplace affect others and prevents them from making behavioral changes based on the feedback. Instead, employee engagement software should allow you to provide each individual with feedback rating reports, outlining feedback from peers, direct reports, managers, and others who work with them. When employees give and receive feedback, they develop a better view of their strengths, development needs, and opportunities for relationship building.
Is Too Reactive
Many employee engagement surveys provide feedback that tells you only how engaged employees are, but they don’t provide data that can help you take a proactive approach. Those surveys may be great at outlining the magnitude of employee disengagement, but they don’t identify individuals at different levels of the organization who are at risk of leaving, either because of an ineffective manager or because of a lack of visibility to senior management.
A survey of employers found that 78 percent are concerned about high-potential workers quitting. Typical employee engagement software can’t identify those employees before they leave, but the ideal software solution can. It is possible for your employee engagement software to help you proactively manage your workforce and identify high-performers who need to be recognized and retained. Effective employee engagement software offers reports that help increase engagement at the individual level, including:
- Team reports that show individual managers 360-degree feedback for their direct and indirect reports
- Standout reports that identify employees with high feedback scores who have the potential to manage, as well as managers with low direct-report ratings who can benefit from coaching and training
Displays Only One-Dimensional Data
Typical employee engagement software might have colorful dashboards with charts and graphs, but upon a closer look, all you may see are ways to organize the same data by department, level, or tenure. Your employee engagement survey software is failing you if it doesn’t allow you to view actionable, multidimensional data at every level of the organization, such as:
- Org chart view and table view of team feedback scores
- Interdepartmental feedback scores
- Custom search by aggregate score, number of reports, and more
Tries to Measure Too Much
Some employee survey solutions try to do too much and end up doing very little in the process. If your employee survey is long, has too many questions, and attempts to ask employees about every single aspect of their work life, it won’t help you effectively measure or improve engagement. Similarly, if you ask employees for feedback too often, the quality of the feedback will be lower. Instead of attempting to measure all workplace factors all the time, employee survey software should try to measure only key drivers of engagement such as trust in leaders, relationships with coworkers, and opportunities for learning and development, to name a few. By focusing on the most relevant topics and allowing employees to be honest about their experiences in those areas, you can measure more of the factors that impact employee engagement and get more insightful data along the way.
Another downside of trying to measure too much and ask too many questions is that doing so can also threaten anonymity. Asking questions that go to a granular level of detail can enhance any anxiety employees may already have about remaining anonymous. For example, an overly detailed question can cause an employee to think that they could be identified by their response. Traditional surveys can also threaten anonymity by delivering any and all responses to a particular survey question, no matter how many people answer it. Instead, you can ensure anonymity by using a solution that delivers survey results only when the number responses meets a minimum threshold. The ideal survey solution will also avoid questions that are either too detailed or too focused and instead asks direct questions that allow employees to feel confident their anonymity is protected.
Just as organizations evolve and employee needs change, so, too, should your employee survey software. If your software doesn’t offer the flexibility to change, expand, or eliminate certain questions, or adjust the frequency of surveys, it will outlive its usefulness as the company grows. One size does not fit all when it comes to employee survey questions, and your survey software should allow for customization based on different challenges that may exist in different parts of the business at different points in time. For example, one part of the company may require survey questions that focus on leadership, while another may require a deeper focus on employee opportunities for learning and development.
Doesn’t Support Improved Visibility
Employee survey software should do more than collect feedback from employees and deliver it to senior management. It should also give company leaders full visibility into the organization and the ability to identify individuals who are excelling or struggling in particular areas. For example, an employee engagement survey can identify individuals who were previously unknown to senior management but receive high overall ratings from peers, their manager, and others. These silent superstars can easily be overlooked by an employee engagement survey that collects only one kind of feedback from one kind of rater. It would be a shame to lose good people because the organization failed to recognize their value in time. In fact, without your realizing it, your employee engagement software could be contributing to the loss of those individuals instead of highlighting them so they can be recognized and rewarded. Using engagement software that takes a new approach allows leaders to see employees’ performance, contributions, and 360-degree feedback at every level of the organization.
Employee engagement software supports the development of a healthy and engaged workforce. However, using an antiquated platform that is inflexible and fails to translate employee dynamics into actionable insight offers only a fraction of the value you should be getting. By implementing an employee engagement software solution that gives everyone a voice and delivers insightful feedback to every employee, you can improve engagement and retain your best talent.