Human Capital Management Blog

Strategies for HCM Professionals

Moving beyond the annual survey for better employee inspiration and engagement

By Lisa Sterling, Chief People Officer, Ceridian

Winning in the new “war for talent,” requires a lot more than just finding the right talent and placing them in the right role as quickly as possible. It’s equally, if not more important, to inspire, motivate and engage your employees over the long haul. Creating an experience of bringing new individuals into the organization and inspiring them is the key to building a highly engaged workforce that can help deliver business impacts. In short, what you need is a new strategy for employee inspiration and engagement.

The challenge most companies face is how to transform their current processes. Many CHRO’s, CEO’s and other leaders have conceptualized the role engagement plays in an organization. No longer is it only HR who is focused on aligning engagement efforts with business strategy. Many leaders are ready to integrate engagement into operations, sustainability, and performance of the organization. But in order to do this successfully, we as business leaders have to mandate a movement from annual employee surveys to more real-time interactions and collaboration.

The trouble with annual employee surveys
According to Workforce magazine, employee surveys have a major weakness when it comes to engagement and creating inspired employees – they tend to make interactions between management and staff rather one-sided. People can share their opinions, but they rarely get any proof their input is being heard or acted upon.

The magazine revealed some interesting survey data from Waggl, a startup that provides a platform for employee feedback – the company found that 97 percent of executives agree  listening to employees and incorporating their ideas is critical, and yet only 38 percent believe an annual check-in is sufficient.

Relying on real conversations
So let’s be honest, anything done annually is outdated and doesn’t drive engagement. It’s time to focus on having genuine conversations, and to have them often. Michael Papay, chief executive officer at Waggl, told Workforce that there’s a disconnect between the back-and-forth dialogue executives want and what they currently have.

“Organizations need leaders and managers who are equipped to have more frequent conversations,” Papay said. “It’s what the millennials expect – more frequent, more authentic and more candid conversations. Let’s get real about what the issues are here.”

Surveys are one-sided because people merely record those thoughts and, as far as they know, nothing more happens than someone shoving those thoughts in a desk drawer. Conversations create engagement on both sides of the aisle, which is what we’re really looking for.

Creating a “listening culture”
In the long run, our goal should be to create a workplace that’s inclusive and allows everyone to share their opinions freely. In other words, you want a “listening culture” in which everyone can be heard.

“This builds trust in the workforce,” Papay said of a listening culture. “Like, you asked me, I told you, we all weighed in and told you what’s important, and you did something with it? Man, if you asked me again, I’ll be so excited to participate.”

Companies shouldn’t strive just for employee development in terms of knowledge and job skills – they should also look to develop engagement. Transforming your culture so that everyone can speak and be heard is a key part of building an engaged workforce, and moving from a  model of performance management, to performance development. I cover the difference between the two, in a previous blog post. Check it out here!

Lisa Sterling

As Chief People Office for Ceridian, Lisa is responsible for the creation, design and execution of Dayforce talent management products and services, including the TeamRelate™ product. 

Prior to joining Ceridian, Lisa served as a Partner and Technology Solutions Leader for Mercer’s Talent Solutions business.  Lisa also served in both a product and people strategist role at Ultimate Software as Head of People Engagement.  As a Partner at Kenexa – an IBM company – she led the design and deployment efforts of the organization’s performance, succession and career development solution.  

Lisa’s career has focused on designing, executing and bringing to market leading talent technologies that foster the employment lifecycle from recruitment to retirement. She’s currently a Human Capital Executive Research Board Member and sought after speaker on various talent management topics.

Lisa earned a degree in business administration and management from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow @Ceridian on twitter.