The rise of micro-surveys as an employee engagement tool The rise of micro-surveys as an employee engagement tool

The rise of micro-surveys as an employee engagement tool
02 Mar 2018

Growing numbers of companies are scrapping their annual employee survey. While such questionnaires have traditionally been considered an essential tool in understanding staff engagement levels, more and more organisations are proclaiming that the annual survey is dead, labeling it an irrelevant dinosaur in the contemporary workplace. 

So is such action justified? The clue may be in the name. Annual surveys are just that – they take place once a year, which for most businesses is simply not enough to catch the mood of employees in today’s fast-changing environment.

Another point is that the survey process takes a rearview mirror approach, focusing on what employees did a year ago rather than what is happening now. But looking backwards in this way is neither relevant nor appropriate for a new generation of workers who demand faster, more immediate feedback.

As Millennials increasingly move into managerial positions and Generation Z come up behind, input not only needs to be more frequent but also to be delivered in new and different ways, including via mobile devices. 

Regular input

But that is not to say that sending a quick text or email message will be enough in feedback terms. Face-to-face contact is, and will remain, an important part of the overall engagement process, providing as it does opportunities for workers to have a voice and share opinions on their role, their colleagues and the business as a whole.

For many organisations, changing the way they conduct employee surveys will undoubtedly prove challenging, particularly if they have a large or diverse workforce to manage. But regular input is crucial for line managers who wish to engage successfully with their teams. 

According to Aberdeen Research, businesses that measure engagement are 24% more likely to have highly engaged employees. As a result, many are turning to micro-surveys as a fresh, convenient approach to gathering staff feedback.

Micro-surveys are regular, targeted online or app-based polls that ask workers between one and 10 questions - and, due to their brevity and anonymity, they tend to elicit higher response rates. Their role is to take the pulse of how individual workers are feeling at any particular time and on any particular issue.

Key reasons why micro-surveys are becoming increasingly popular include the fact that they:

  1. Provide more accurate insights - in real-time

Questioning employees on specific topics provides line managers with immediate insights into what their teams are thinking about new policies and initiatives. So if, for example, redundancies are being made within their team, they can establish how the situation is affecting morale. The following week’s survey question/s can then act as a follow-up to feedback provided the previous week.

  1. Make feedback easier to interpret

Smaller, more flexible weekly surveys result in smaller and more manageable data sets, which in turn makes it easier for line managers to interpret and understand trends and patterns more quickly.

  1. Are more likely to result in positive change

Obtaining information more quickly makes it possible for line managers to take swifter decisions on how best to make positive changes within their team. Taking small steps to effect big change over time is likely to prove more effective than trying to transform things all at once.

 John Ryder

John Ryder is CEO and founder of Hive HR. He initially joined Visualsoft to head up its Innovation Lab, which concentrates on developing new software platforms. When Hive.HR was spun off as a separate company, John took on the role of managing director. His background is in digital marketing and business strategy. 

Growing numbers of companies are scrapping their annual employee survey. While such questionnaires have traditionally been considered an essential tool in understanding staff engagement levels, more and more organisations are proclaiming that the annual survey is dead, labeling it an irrelevant dinosaur in the contemporary workplace. 

So is such action justified? The clue may be in the name. Annual surveys are just that – they take place once a year, which for most businesses is simply not enough to catch the mood of employees in today’s fast-changing environment.

Another point is that the survey process takes a rearview mirror approach, focusing on what employees did a year ago rather than what is happening now. But looking backwards in this way is neither relevant nor appropriate for a new generation of workers who demand faster, more immediate feedback.

As Millennials increasingly move into managerial positions and Generation Z come up behind, input not only needs to be more frequent but also to be delivered in new and different ways, including via mobile devices. 

Regular input

But that is not to say that sending a quick text or email message will be enough in feedback terms. Face-to-face contact is, and will remain, an important part of the overall engagement process, providing as it does opportunities for workers to have a voice and share opinions on their role, their colleagues and the business as a whole.

For many organisations, changing the way they conduct employee surveys will undoubtedly prove challenging, particularly if they have a large or diverse workforce to manage. But regular input is crucial for line managers who wish to engage successfully with their teams. 

According to Aberdeen Research, businesses that measure engagement are 24% more likely to have highly engaged employees. As a result, many are turning to micro-surveys as a fresh, convenient approach to gathering staff feedback.

Micro-surveys are regular, targeted online or app-based polls that ask workers between one and 10 questions - and, due to their brevity and anonymity, they tend to elicit higher response rates. Their role is to take the pulse of how individual workers are feeling at any particular time and on any particular issue.

Key reasons why micro-surveys are becoming increasingly popular include the fact that they:

  1. Provide more accurate insights - in real-time

Questioning employees on specific topics provides line managers with immediate insights into what their teams are thinking about new policies and initiatives. So if, for example, redundancies are being made within their team, they can establish how the situation is affecting morale. The following week’s survey question/s can then act as a follow-up to feedback provided the previous week.

  1. Make feedback easier to interpret

Smaller, more flexible weekly surveys result in smaller and more manageable data sets, which in turn makes it easier for line managers to interpret and understand trends and patterns more quickly.

  1. Are more likely to result in positive change

Obtaining information more quickly makes it possible for line managers to take swifter decisions on how best to make positive changes within their team. Taking small steps to effect big change over time is likely to prove more effective than trying to transform things all at once.

 John Ryder

John Ryder is CEO and founder of Hive HR. He initially joined Visualsoft to head up its Innovation Lab, which concentrates on developing new software platforms. When Hive.HR was spun off as a separate company, John took on the role of managing director. His background is in digital marketing and business strategy.