The employee engagement survey asks each employee who completed the questionnaire to take the initiative and answer survey questions, provide valid assessments, and make suggestions for changes and improvements. In organizations where employees do not feel empowered or encouraged to take the initiative, the survey process becomes passive. Employees see the process as something that happens to them, not as something they are active participants of. The initiative is becoming increasingly important in action planning and change.
In organizations that have “burned out,” examining employee engagement adds “insult to injury”. Successful research requires the effort, energy, and commitment of those involved. Energy commitment should be set at a ratio of 20:80, ie 20% to complete and return the questionnaire, and 80% to analyze the results and take action. After reviewing proposals for design, administration, analysis, giving feedback and creating action plans, the group of managers who were responsible for the project said the following: “This seems like a lot of work and real commitment.” Our response was, “You’re absolutely right.” Then they replied, “We just don’t have the energy.” The reality of energy in organizations has very little to do with the amount of work people have to do or the number of responsibilities they have to manage. People in organizations with the most work often have the most energy.
In some organizations, there is so much administration, paperwork, and bureaucracy that it is almost impossible to do anything. Other organizations are appalled by the need for consensus on every issue. In highly inefficient organizations, employee engagement testing can be viewed as just a larger piece of paperwork in an endless series of requests or reports that don’t seem to lead to any change. In organizations caused by inefficiency, creating a quick and simple survey process can be key to project success.
Dedicated employees see employee engagement research as a tool to help them achieve their goals and express concerns. Employees with a low level of commitment will consider the survey as an inconvenience and a waste of money. A group of employees with a low level of commitment had the following suggestion: “Why don’t we take all the money we spend on this survey and increase salaries?” Their focus was “What do I get out of it?” Unfortunately, the company could not increase employee salaries until it figured out how to be more productive and successful.
Everyone likes to feel like they are insiders. Insiders consider themselves as an important part of a company’s success. They consider their contribution important. They feel that others want to hear their opinion. Outsiders feel tangential and as an optional part of the process. They feel they are lagging behind others, they are not asked for their opinion and find out new information last. Often, in this dimension of readiness, research on employee engagement can yield great benefits to the company. Companies that have a highly involved and informed workforce use their employee’s questionnaires as a tool to further inform and involve employees in assessing the performance of the company as a whole.
Another word for trust is faith. Employee engagement research only works if most people from management levels to executors believe they can answer questions honestly. If people lack the confidence or faith that problems will be seriously reconsidered and sincere efforts made to change things that are wrong, then the process will not be successful.
Organizational optimism is created when there is a lasting record of success. Organizational pessimism arises when a company finds it difficult to succeed. Feelings of optimism or pessimism can often determine an organization’s ability to survive. Although a certain level of paranoia is sometimes helpful, and some pessimism can motivate people to take action, a constant organizational pessimism can often encourage people to leave an organization, either physically or emotionally.
Great things can be achieved because of the commitment generated by good interpersonal relationships. A sense of support and acceptance is the foundation of trust, commitment and a sense of inclusion. When people experience too many negative personal relationships, other aspects of readiness are sure to lag behind.