Evolving a Solution for Employee Pulse Surveys

ECG

I wanted to share some of the insights I’ve gathered as I have been researching employee pulse surveys, and also some real-world evidence from the companies and teams that have adopted FlashLet.

Three factors have a large influence on employee engagement:

  1. Purpose – Why am I here? How do I fit into the company’s objectives? Am I one of the links in the chain to make the company successful?
  2. Feedback – Do folks around me care about what I do?
  3. Communication – Can I talk, IM and email everyone around me without jumping through hoops?

My vision around FlashLet is to provide tools for all three of those pillars that make up the basis of employee engagement. We’ve added two new features into FlashLet to push all of us in that direction.

OKR  / Purpose

We’ve added OKR capabilities to FlashLet. OKR stands for Objective Key Results: it is simply a lightweight way of keeping your company or team “on track.”

The OKR system we’ve implemented is extremely simple to use. There are Organizational, Team and Individual OKRs… and they are hierarchically defined. Employees can login to FlashLet and create their own OKRs; more importantly, OKRs are visible to each other within the company. This leads to social accountability, where employees know that everyone else has access to their OKRs, and its not hidden in a Word document somewhere.

If you’ve not heard of OKRs or would like to learn more about this, please take a look at the deck I’ve created explaining the concept.

Daily Snippets / Communication

Most people hate sending status reports. I know I hated it when I was a consultant for WaMu in Seattle. But – I was a consultant – so I had to do time-sheets – and status reports were part of it. Yep – TPS reports paid my mortgage!

The real value of status reports is to percolate relevant information “up the chain.”

We think we can do better. We’ve implemented a concept called “Snippets” – it’s a simple email that goes to every one of your team members: “What did you do today?” and they can simply respond to that email. That’s it.

We then collate the data and send out a digest of the status from each of the team members. Imagine a simple email everyday in the morning at 8AM that lets you see quickly what everyone in the company or your team did the day before. This is a simple, easy and effective way of communicating, and it is purpose driven.

Drip Questions

We’re also learning, from a very practical standpoint, that asking the same question every week does not make a lot of sense. While the data is valuable, it leads to employees being annoyed about the same question again and again. So we’ve decided to add in a concept called Drip Questions: these are pre-defined questions that address goal-setting, purpose, etc., and get looped into the weekly question.

We are not extending the size of the survey. We want it to be a “Single Question” pulse: we believe we have achieved 70%+ response rates weekly partially because we’ve committed to this concept of a weekly single question. We don’t want to lose the trust of the employees by extending the length of the survey.

Confidentiality vs. Anonymity

The prevailing wisdom in the employee engagement community is that feedback needs to be anonymous in order to elicit accurate and meaningful responses. I want to challenge that conventional wisdom. We actually are realizing that employees want confidentiality more than anonymity.

Anonymity is a mechanism to protect the identity when employees are critical of policies or personnel. If employees know that their comments and feedback, including criticism, can be directed to senior management without being criticized, we think this leads to a healthier dialog.

To that end, we have updated FlashLet to operate in three different modes: Public, Anonymous and Confidential modes. The proof will be in the pudding. We now give all our clients the ability to choose their feedback model – based on their own culture and their executive team’s propensity to accept feedback: publicly, anonymously or confidentially. We plan on researching how and why companies choose each of those models. But from a tool-and-technology perspective, we support all three.

Conclusion

I think we are in the throes of an exciting new way of managing and revolutionizing employee engagement. Even within the last 30 days, every day we’ve learned something new, and we are continuously improving FlashLet so that we can provide the best toolkit for employee engagement.

If you have feedback or would like to take FlashLet for a spin, let me know, and we can set you up with a pilot within minutes!

Good times!

PS: I am working on a webinar with a few esteemed colleagues around “Deconstructing Employee Engagement”. We’ll likely do this towards the end of March. If you have evidence/data around that, I would love to include that as part of the research I am doing.

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About Vivek Bhaskaran

Vivek Bhaskaran is the President and CEO of Survey Analytics.

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