Brilliant Idea #248. Hack the Staff Engagement Survey

dibert engagement survey

Most large organisations now do an annual staff engagement survey. It measures the level of engagement amongst the workforce.

They are very expensive and costly exercises and allow the organisation to take a series of measures, relate them to previous years and then create projects and initiatives in order to improve the metrics for next year. There’s no doubt that they can be extremely useful – I’m not pretending for a moment that I understand the science behind them, but equally they have become a necessary evil because, in the main, the organisation and staff hate them.

The elephant in the room is that it’s a measure of one moment in time throughout the whole year.

Brilliant Idea #248 is to ‘hack’ the staff engagement survey to make it continual and actionable so rather than there being one measure-point a year, it constantly measures the pulse or temperature of the organisation’s engagement.

If you want a summary of what an idea hack is, click this link to see a previous blog post,

So, if we hack the engagement survey we start with and then get;

– Rather than asking people to complete the survey once a year (usually within 3 weeks to accommodate people on a two week vacation), if we hack that couldn’t we survey people every day

– Everyone is required to complete it, so if we hack that, perhaps we ask for volunteers

– They generally take >30 minutes to complete so if we hack that couldn’t we make a survey that takes 20-30 seconds by really focusing on targeting the questions

– The survey scientists love the likert scale (the scale of 1-5 where 3 is the median), but couldn’t we have a scale of 1-3 so a simple happy, neutral or sad face

– Generally they are anonymous so if we hack that, then we have named respondents

– We go from dozens of questions to one or two

– The survey process takes time and generally the organisation has about a month to complete the survey. If we hack that we could give the respondents a matter of minutes and seconds to complete the survey

That’s a bunch of hacks concerning the features of staff engagement surveys and they might take us towards some opportunities to innovate (and remember, not all these ideas will necessarily make up the final solution, but let’s not filter them out just yet), but it’s not just about features. What about the business model?

– Staff engagement surveys are developed by very skilled people. How about we hack that and let employees create their own surveys with the questions they want to answer

– The survey provokes detailed analysis, generally by external consultants, so if we hack it, then we get simple analytics that line managers can understand and action or even a stream of constant feedback that the respondents can see

– The results of the surveys are generally hidden until all the data has been crunched by the experts, so if we hack that we get a real-time and public view of the data

– If we can create a solution that is simple and quick enough to capture engagement feedback hundreds or even thousands of times a day, then we can go one step further and, using an app on a phone, also choose when we ask the questions. If we knew that a colleague’s normal working hours are from 9-5, if the app knows that they are sill in the office (based on GPS) at 6pm, wouldn’t it be great to know if they are working late because they want to or feel forced to – whether the extra effort adds or detracts from their level of engagement




Why do I (and why everyone should) share their ideas freely? Click here to find out