Category Archives: Employee Surveys

Process, principles and best practices for employee surveys.

SAS Uses the fundamentals and gets great results

Leadership does not have to be complicated. Asking and responding goes a long way to developing a relationship. Relationships are founded on trust and in an environment of trusting relationships people preform better. It creates great business results and a great place to work.

SAS Tops Fortunes List this year – here is how they survey employees

Regan Interview about survey results

From Mat Wilson’s Regan article

Karen Lee, senior manager of internal communications at SAS, said the #1 spot reaffirmed the role of communications in creating a stellar work environment:

“In an  era of social media where communication is critical, transparency within internal communications at SAS reflects the trust our employees have in our leadership and in one another,” said Lee, who was celebrating the selection with team members before dawn on Thursday.

Every year, managers/clients expect a complicated process or survey. The fact is a simple survey that is discussed, turned into action themes and acted upon creates a positive momentum. Surveys are the most scalable and demonstrable activity an organization can do that proves they are listening and that they care. Today, social media can also do this but the advantage of a survey is the legitimacy that the methodology brings to the conversation. Both should be used and likely in combination to enable a dynamic conversation with employees that encourages innovation and creativity.
Employee Survey Process Achieving Leadership Results Ryan Williams Oct 2007 http://d1.scribdassets.com/ScribdViewer.swf

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Social Media will not replace the need to survey

Those in hungry need for budgets and time to access the thoughts and feelings of stakeholders are increasingly using social media. This is a vast new frontier for researchers. I am excited to participate in the innovation of new methodologies to interpret our findings.Yet, this exciting new area will not achieve what a survey does.

Most of the new processes like Ideation using tools like PollStream give us researchers new data sets. They allow participants to vote and comment. This is useful data but it must be put into context. It is not a survey that had distribution methodology. Surveys can potentially be generalized to the broader populations.  At their foundation these new tools are qualitative in nature and should be used as such.

In corporate communications research qualitative measurement is gold. They give us evidence and inform why people think what they do. The professional practices that communication and human resources professionals alike should resist is reporting these findings back to executives with the indication that they provide a predominance of opinion. Specifically, for engaging and informing employees the survey retains the position as the best tool to inform and track our progress. With more study, social media tools may emerge with some quantitative elements but we are not there yet.

The employee engagement survey best practices in 2010
To fulfill the objectives of the survey and enhance the value of the benchmark data, I construct a theory of business using leader interviews and organizational plans. A theory of business is a model that reflects the circumstances that organizations believe would bring about goal attainment. This theory includes the foundational measures used in the benchmarks that look at a variety of foundational engagement factors (I use the Conference Board of Canada`s 2006 Meta Analysis on Employee Engagement). The next two areas examined are focused around the mandate/values and the strategic priorities specific to your organization. The last section queries the ability of the participants to engage, innovate and inform decisions. The presentation of these elements in more detail can be illustrated with the following typical items in an engagement survey:


Surveys are powerful two-way communications. Anyone conducting an organizational survey should appreciate that the very act of surveying itself influences attitudes (Walters, 2002). The survey communicates what is important to an organization. What is asked and responded to will create a social contract between the organization and employees. The process can tell employees you care about their issues and that you are willing to do something about these issues (Church & Oliver, 2006). From a leadership perspective, the most powerful survey is one that enables a strategic frame and moves away from purely transactional relationships.

The survey sets the limits or boundaries for a creative and innovative discussion around continual improvement. The survey will be constructed to communicate an outcome focus, important values and supporting mechanisms that will enable goal achievement.

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Sustainability, Engagement – Is Continuous Improvement a Problem?

This week, I look at how our history can get in the way of achieving goals by questioning the practices of continuous improvement. This has impacted the effectiveness of how corporate sustainability initiatives have not succeeded and how we view employee engagement. What do you think?

Quote of the week: “An open system doesn’t have central intelligence; the intelligence is spread throughout the system.”
The Starfish and the Spider by Brafman and Beckstrom

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Does aiming for employee happiness undermine engagement?

Many studies over the years have proven that satisfied/happy employees are more profitable.

The result has been the increase of entitlements and entitlement programs with tangible results.

What if this evidence leads us to short term gains that are unsustainable?

Happy Happy People

Happy Happy People

Here is my theory – when we use incentive based leadership, we can measure a short term impact that can be quantified into a ROI. This encourages a focus on satisfaction and externalities.

A sustainable approach would involve creating an intrinsic motivation that is self determined by employees. They would have a sense of belonging to something bigger. They attach themselves to the mission of the organization and to the people they work with.

Our practices of short term ‘happy measures’ may in fact work against the sustainable leadership approach.

Sears started this when they demonstrated a ratio of profitability correlated to employee satisfaction. Does this foundation of evidence lead us to bad practices?

I am definitely not the first to consider this:
Paul Kearns is Director of PWL

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Social media measurement and the ‘Hawthorne Effect’

This week’s video blog remembers the wisdom of Elton Mayo and applies his research to social media measurement.

Here are my two reactions when I think about the Elton Mayo’s Hawthorn Effect and social media measurement:

  1. Wow the possibilities!

  2. Oh no, we can really mess this up if we are not careful.

A resource for a more precise look at the Hawthorne Effect.

An example of the new powerful tools – Social Radar.

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Is there anything new under the sun?

This video is the first in a series that focuses on the evolution of employee research and what that means for us today.

Let me know what you think.

The opportunity today:

Social media and employee engagement

The original writings:

Mary Parker Follett

Fredrick Winslow Taylor

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Video Blog Series on Employee Research

Today, I am launching a video blog series on the evolution of employee research. This series will highlight significant historical milestones, thought leaders, practitioners, and market demands. I will explore issues like the confusion in the use of terms like employee engagement and the choice of research practices. These issues can be traced back to events, fads and conflicting ideas. I look forward to your insights and conversations arising from this series.

videoblog-series-image-1

What other events, fads or conflicting ideas can be captured in this discussion?

The next post will be the first video blog. I will introduce scientific and humanistic management.

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