Answer this quick riddle: What comes around once a year, costs organizations a lot of time and money, and employees hate it?
No, it’s not the annual performance review, but good guess. It’s the annual employee engagement survey. And much like the aforementioned yearly performance review, engagement surveys are broken.
The primary reason these surveys have low participation and little impact on engagement is because they’re too infrequent. Yearly engagement assessments can’t keep up with the speed of business today, nor allow organizations to implement changes in a timely fashion. And if employees aren’t seeing action from their feedback, then they perceive surveys as useless.
That’s why more companies are starting to implement real-time polls—or pulse surveys—into their engagement programs. Real-time polls are quick, frequent surveys that provide insight into employee engagement. They’re significantly shorter and simpler to complete and analyze than annual surveys, making it easier to poll employees more frequently and respond to issues quickly.
Why Use Real-Time Polls
Polls are becoming a big part of today’s social culture. In recent years Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook have allowed users to create quick polls for their followers as a means to boost engagement, and most webinars include polls to gather feedback.
Your employees are already taking polls on social media, they’ll gladly do the same at work. Some key benefits of real-time employee polls include:
Provides real-time insights
: Gathering results from annual engagement surveys can take several months, but polls provide data immediately. Leaders can evaluate the level of employee morale at the moment instead of relying on dated feedback.
Gives employees a voice:
An annual survey can seem more like a corporate obligation rather than an opportunity for constructive employee input. Frequent polls make employees feel like their opinions matter.
Promotes continuous improvement:
Regular polls allow organizations to be more agile by evaluating engagement throughout the year and responding to issues faster.
Since these polls are short, they’re not comprehensive, so they shouldn’t necessarily replace annual engagement surveys. But when paired with the annual survey, they give organizations tools to properly tackle engagement.
Here are some ways to use the two together.
Track Improvement on Problem Areas
Employee engagement surveys aren’t just about assessing employee sentiment in your workplace, they’re about identifying areas of improvement and implementing change. So after you’ve created an action plan following survey analysis, polls are great ways to follow up on your progress.
Once you’ve communicated the plan to your staff, you can poll them to see if they’re satisfied with the course of action. This can give you insights to see if your plan is on the right track.
After you’ve implemented the plan, check back in a few months—say quarterly—with another poll to see if employees are happy with the progress. If your numbers are creeping up, you know you’re on the right track. If numbers are unchanged, you may need to pivot to address the issue in another way.
It’s also important to ask the same questions. This allows you to compare results apples to apples, as changing the topic or wording of the question can elicit a different response and skew results. A key part of using polls is to identify trends, so you need a constant for accurate analysis.
Use Polls for eNPS in Between Surveys
The employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) is a common metric organizations use to evaluate engagement and loyalty. It asks one simple question: On a scale of 0-10, how likely is it that you would recommend our company as a place to work?
Short and simple.
From the responses, you can get a general idea of how employees feel about your company. That’s why it’s a good poll to use in between longer and more detailed engagement surveys. It requires very little time for employees to answer and just some simple analysis from the organization to derive the score.
And from there, you can drill down: Is the eNPS higher during certain times of the year and why? Do certain departments have significantly high or low scores? It provides good foundation to help direct your overall engagement activities throughout the year.
Use Targeted Polls to Zero in Specific Areas
There may be an issue affecting a certain business unit, department, or team that you need a gauge on, and a real-time poll is a great way to assess it.
This may be an issue that arose during the annual engagement survey, such as certain department with low engagement scores, or maybe there’s a new initiative being piloted in a business unit and you want to track how it’s going. A targeted poll can provide insight into those areas.
For example, let’s say two different departments recently merged or were reorganized and you want to evaluate how it’s going. You can’t wait for the annual survey to come around again to get an assessment, so you conduct a real-time poll to see how employees feel about it. You can then follow up a few months later for further analysis. You can also see how that department responds on the next annual survey and compare results with the polls to see if the change was successful from an employee perspective.
There are many uses for real-time polls, and they’re perfect for today’s agile organizations. With companies prioritizing employee engagement, polls are a great way to measure employee sentiment on key issues throughout the year and equip your company with the insights it needs to respond appropriately.