When you’ve got a company with thousands of employees, you know the importance of employee engagement feedback. 

Though the systems created decades ago by Gallup and IBM Kenexa were solid options at the time, the reality is that employee engagement models have drastically changed more quickly than such megaliths could adjust for.

Which opened the door to a market of modern solutions.

If you’re looking for ways to collect useful, actionable feedback from your employees, it’s important to realize that there is a spectrum of options. 

At one end of the spectrum is a rash of startup businesses aware of the need for modern solutions. At the other end are companies such as Gallup and IBM Kenexa — though Kenexa has technically gone under.

There are pros and cons to both types solutions — just as there is also a sweet spot somewhere in the middle.

What Was the Annual Census?

The annual census traditionally used by companies who relied on Gallup employee engagement surveys and IBM Kenexa was a painful process packed with demographic questions and backed by what is now outdated HR tech.

The once-a-year engagement service would survey the entire population of a company. Kenexa, specifically, would ask employees a series of up to 200 questions. As a result, these surveys would take somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes for any given employee to finish. 

Such surveys would usually be distributed via email (or even paper). In those rare cases that email wasn’t available, a kiosk would be set up, and an employee would use their ID to register for the survey.

Once all the data was collected, it would then take weeks — sometimes months — to get your results, which would often result in a two-page report and a spreadsheet. Then, you could start looking at what your employee engagement levels were like and what adjustments you might need to make to improve them.

Employee Survey Giants Adjusting

In attempts to modernize, Gallup has made some adjustments as to how it approaches its annual censuses. 

Gallup employee engagement survey — like most in the industry — recognized that 50 to 70 questions were just too much for an employee to wade through in a meaningful way. So, it rolled out Gallup Q12, which was made up of the 12 questions the company recognized as the most important. Though it was a modern move, they’re basing their model on what drove engagement in the ’80s or ’90s.

Even in the last 10 years, employee engagement has changed pretty dramatically. So, despite Gallup and Kenexa alternatives’ models being statistically valid, they’re based on an engagement model that’s at least 30 years old. 

That’s the equivalent of sending someone a fax instead of an email in the modern age.

A More Modern Approach to Employee Surveys: Agile HR

A lot of companies are moving away from the annual census model — hence the reason it can be considered dead. These companies are moving to conduct surveys every six months and even quarterly. 

The reason they’re able to do this is because modern employee engagement survey businesses, such as Workify, are using 20 to 30 question surveys instead of the bulky 50 to 70 varieties. 

Modern tools such as Workify support this use of very short pulse surveys that are two to three questions in length. By collecting more data, more frequently, you can start to see trends over time — and act on them before they become issues.

Of course, engagement surveys are just part of the pictures that these solutions are helping businesses piece together. The reality is that smart human resources teams are matching these employee engagement surveys with employee lifecycle surveys, such as when a new hire is made, post-training, and when an employee is terminated. 

There are a lot of ways you can start to add measurement throughout the lifecycle of an employee at the moments that matter. By implementing a holistic measurement program, you can put even more meaningful data behind the engagement of your employees.

DIY Employee Survey Startups for Data-Driven HR

On the opposite side of the spectrum are the DIY employee survey solutions. These are particularly well-suited to companies with only a handful of employees — perhaps up to a few hundred.

They are modern solutions with user-friendly digital interfaces. Most of them will offer you a suite of big data analytics and business intelligence tools to help you slice and dice your data in real-time. 

The downside of these solutions is that most of them don’t have a lot of depth with regard to their experience. Their models — while certainly statistically relevant — are only based on a handful of years of data, not decades of it.

The other limitation you can expect when using these high-tech employee survey systems is that they aren’t designed to have the capacity or resources to provide the consultant services you might need to implement change and take action on the feedback.

The Sweet Middleground for Employee Surveys: Tech-Enabled Services Workify

Sitting between giant, legacy products and the DIY solutions, there are tech-enabled services. Tech-enabled service combines the best of modern technology with the hands-on consulting support of more traditional offerings.

Though such services can work for companies of any size, they are ideal for companies ranging from 1,000 employees to hundreds of thousands of employees. 

The reality is these services provide cutting edgeork tech while still providing the consulting services you’ll need to take action and implement change based on the feedback provided.

Tech-enabled employee survey services, such as Workify, can comfortably skip all demographic questions because they already have employee data files provided by a client. This empowers companies to create sleek, more time-efficient surveys — while at the same time anonymizing employee identities.

Anonymity cannot be underestimated when it comes to employee surveys, as fear of retaliatory actions based on negative feedback can lead to employees providing inaccurate information — undermining the efforts of the survey. 

The base model created by such companies — at least any worth their salt — are developed by a team of industrial-organizational psychologists who are focused on engagement indicators that drive engagement in today’s workforce.

The flexibility of the software is especially important as more companies create their own big data sets and develop their own employee engagement models. The agility of the software allows you to literally develop your own statistical model with the right support and integrate it into the system.

That’s not to say this middle ground solution offers a full consulting program. Instead, such systems can help you understand your design, your program, your data, and how to take action on it.

Final Thoughts: Gallup Employee Engagement Surveys Vs Modern Employee Feedback

The reality is that legacy products, such as those being pushed by Gallup employee engagement surveys, are operating with a dated methodology. The traditional players are in a race to modernize, making moves to acquire startups that are on the cutting edge of modern technology. 

For large businesses looking for a Kenaxa alternative, the DIY employee solutions are a big ask for an HR department to learn and implement, despite the modern HR tech.

Of course, it’s that sweet spot in the middle that’s going to be the best solution for many companies, as it provides most modern technology combined with a large employee engagement dataset and enough consulting services to allow you to make the changes that will help improve your bottom line.

Tell us how you’re approaching a more modern way of engagement measurement in the comment section below!

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