ENGAGEMENT SURVEY VS. SATISFACTION SURVEY
While they sound similar, engagement surveys and satisfaction surveys measure very
“There’s a practical distinction between the two types of surveys,” said Sabapathy.
“Employees could be really satisfied in their jobs, but this could easily mean they’re
having fun, they don’t have to work that hard and nobody’s pushing them much. They
punch the clock and go home.”
Engagement is another thing altogether.
“With engagement, you’re finding out if they’re really committed to their jobs, to the
organization and to its goals,” said Sabapathy. “You’re hoping to find out if they’re willing
to put in the extra effort against those goals.”
Engagement pertains more to the relationship between the employee and the organization.
“Whereas satisfaction is about how the employee feels about the job, engagement is how he or she
feels about the relationship between them and the organization,” said Gray. If they’re proud to be part of the
organization, believe in its mission, vision and values and are willing to give discretionary effort, they’re more
likely to be highly engaged.
the response, the company implemented a new online peer-based
recognition program. “From the year we put it in to the following
year, we had a 100 per cent increase in recognition,” he said. “It’s
easy, reinforces our values, and people love it.”
As part of the plan to address the issue of career opportuni-ties,
the company measured how often they were promoting and
transferring people internally.
“The act of measuring it drove a different kind of behaviour,”
said Sabapathy. In just two years, the company recorded a 73 per
cent increase in the amount of internal moves and promotions.
SHARE THE RESULTS
Once you’ve analyzed the data and have a plan of action, let em-ployees
know about both the results and the plans. The worst
thing an organization can do when it comes to surveys is to con-duct
one, then never mention it again.
“When you have the opportunity to get candid feedback, it’s a
gift,” said Sabapathy. “When you don’t respect it as a gift and do
nothing with it, you’re likely to never get it again, or you’re going
to get a very whitewashed answer because people don’t believe or
care as much.”
What’s more, staff members are likely to assume the results
were exceptionally bad.
“When you don’t communicate, people fill the vacuum, usually
with the worst-case scenario,” said Webb. “It’s just human nature.”
On the other hand, depositing a binder full of survey results
on every staff member’s desk isn’t constructive, either.
“We recommend giving staff highlights of the results, in con-junction
with clear direction about what’s going to be done to
improve the work environment,” said Gray. “That’s what they
want to know.”
Providing highlights also keeps respondents aware that their voic-es
were heard, regardless of what the action items end up being.
“People have a high propensity to take out of surveys what’s
most meaningful to them,” said Sabapathy. “They’ll wonder why
you didn’t work on a solution around tuition reimbursement or
paternity leave. Everybody has their own interests.”
Once you’ve gone through a survey and launched new programs
to address your challenges, the next step is to survey again to see if
you’ve moved the needle. Timing is key, though.
“It’s important to complete your action plan and give employ-ees
time to experience the change before measuring again,” said
Gray. “If there’s a new performance review system, for example,
to address concerns about job definitions, wait until everyone
has had one of the reviews.”
Should organizations follow a specific timeline? It depends on
what works for them.
“In my opinion, every two years is a good frequency for en-gagement
surveys,” said Webb. “In between, at the one-year mark
you could do a mini survey with just five or 10 questions, or just
communicate with staff about what you’ve done so far.”
“When you look through all the things you can measure, an en-gagement
index is proving to be one of the key measurements,”
said Sabapathy. “I think the true test of value is when it becomes
less of an HR initiative and more of an organizational initiative.”
At Cadillac Fairview, engagement scores are an integral part of
the company’s five-year strategic plan.
“In addition to profit targets and operating targets and all the
traditional business measures, we have an engagement index as
one of our key enterprise measures for the business.
“Once HR gets their metrics to that level, that’s when you
know you’re having a true business impact,” said Sabapathy.
“With the right data, HR can pull together a good picture of
how talent is performing. Understanding that, and what to do
about it, will directly impact your results and drive organization-al
20 ❚ NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL