By Emily Senger - Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 0 Comments
Popular in the late 1990s, a new study says they’re a waste of money
Employee engagement surveys became popular in the late ’90s after the Harvard Business Review published research showing a link between employee satisfaction at Sears stores and revenue growth. Today, U.S. firms spend about $720 million trying to improve employee engagement.
Unfortunately, it’s a waste of money, says a new paper in the Journal for Quality and Participation. “The dirty little secret of employee engagement surveys is that they’re largely junk science,” writes Robert Gerst, a partner at Calgary-based Converge Consulting.
The problem, says Gerst, is the attempt to use “statistical significance” to draw meaningful conclusions or patterns from broad survey data. “Just because you can detect a difference between two groups has nothing to do, at all, with whether that difference is in any way important,” he says. The surveys may even mislead managers and find problems where none exists.
Employee feedback is useful if done right. Gerst recommends qualitative research—speaking with actual employees—before developing targeted survey questions. As for surveys widely used now, Gerst writes: “Boiling employee engagement down to a single score means you don’t understand employee engagement.”
By Brian Banks - Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
How Canadian organizations stack up against the rest of the world in terms of employee engagement
Compared to their counterparts in much of Europe, Canadian workers log more hours, take shorter vacations and have to wait longer for full retirement benefits and pensions. Yet it’s in France where workers are occupying refineries and taking to the streets, in a bid to choke off the economy and force the government to reverse a decision to bump the retirement age from 60 to 62. What if these yawning differences between Canadian and European attitudes toward work, employers and institutional entitlement could be quantified, scored and further explained?
In fact, they can, and they already are. Aon Hewitt, the global HR consulting and outsourcing firm that annually identifies Canada’s Best Employers, has all kinds of employee engagement data that allows for international comparisons. What those show is that while improving engagement may be the mantra of human resources managers and consultants the world over, actual engagement scores are far from uniform. Employee engagement, which is ultimately a reflection of companies delivering against the expectations of their employees, is shaped by local culture and history as much as it is best practices. In some cases, it might even point to underlying causes of labour unrest and economic uncertainty.