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 Andrew Potter - Friday, July 16, 2010 at 9:20 AM - 0 Comments
POTTER: The comedy of Clement failing basic economics aside, it’s scary that he doesn’t understand his file
Since he became Prime Minister 4½ years ago, Stephen Harper has tormented the press gallery with an almost complete lockdown on government communications, with even cabinet ministers informed that the public is not entitled to their opinions. The assumption has always been that he is just a weapons-grade control freak, but a pair of recent exchanges suggest an alternative theory: that Harper knows something about the ideological leaning of his cabinet that he’d prefer to keep quiet.
Last week, Minister of Industry Tony Clement was given the task of defending the government’s decision to eliminate the mandatory long-form version of the census and move those questions to an optional survey. According to Clement, the long census—which asks questions about respondents’ ethnicity, education and income—is “heavy-handed” and intrusive. Clement mounted his libertarian high horse: “You try to limit the amount of state coercion that you have, you try to limit the intrusiveness of government activities, and that’s the balance that we’ve struck,” he said.