3 Reasons Why Your Annual Employee Engagement Survey Is Useless

4 min read
Sep 28, 2022

Research from the State of Employee Engagement Q1 2022 by TINYpulse found 86% of employees want to be able to give feedback to their employers through surveys and 37% desired more feedback from their managers. An annual employee engagement survey is one of the most common HR practices. The goal is to collect feedback from employees and address the problems that are holding your organization down and making employees search for new jobs. Although not completely useless (any feedback is better than none), if not implemented with a well thought out strategy, it can cause more damage to your culture and employee engagement rates than good.

Your annual employee engagement survey is probably the same template you've been using, and if your results aren't improving from year to year, it might be time for something new. That something new might mean taking a look in the three areas mentioned below to understand why your employee engagement strategy might need to move beyond a single annual employee survey. 

3 Reasons Why Your Annual Employee Surveys Are Useless

  1. It's infrequent
  2. It's lacking a human touch
  3. It's incomplete

There are hidden challenges when relying solely on an annual survey to improve employee engagement like not including important topics that matter to employees, irrelevant questions and insufficient timing.

You need a system in place to continuously communicate with employees to be more agile with your HR initiatives and improve overall employee engagement and business outcomes. Let's dive into each reason your annual employee survey might be not making as big of an impact as you think and learn how to fix them to allow your employees to flourish

1) Your annual employee engagement survey is too infrequent.

Although it might be easier from a capacity point of view to check off employee feedback with a single survey once a year, it can be incredibly frustrating for employees. There is no timeliness to address certain seasonal topics, organizational milestones, and other topics employees may feel the need to address leaving them feeling disconnected and undervalued. Employees want to feel heard and that their feedback matters (through action), not asked "how was your year" by an automated message.

The answer to this issue is to set a regular cadence of employee feedback throughout your calendar year. This might look like a weekly short survey check-in, bi-weekly, or monthly, it doesn't matter as long as it works for your organization. As Forbes puts it "A healthy feedback process starts with transparency, focuses on ongoing dialogue and isn't limited to annual reviews." and we couldn't agree more. 

2) Your annual employee engagement survey is lacking a human touch.

Setting up your employee engagement survey at the beginning of the year, scheduling it, and then forgetting about it is a bad habit to get into. It may seem proactive at first glance but it leaves no room for human connection. Completing multiple choice questions with no room to customize or add detail can feel very robotic, not to mention it doesn't inspire authenticity to feel like no one will ever read what you're writing.

A good way to combat this to foster higher adoption on your employee engagement surveys as welll as more actionable answers is to implement a system where you can have two-way communication. Luckily technology makes it possible for employees to submit feedback and have managers/admins follow up for more detail. Not only does this make the employee feel heard and that their experience matters but it gives the organization more specific feedback to act upon.

A couple things to keep in mind when adding a human touch to your employee surveys are to use the language you would use in real life (nothing fancy), allow for follow ups, and include key info or milestones specific to your company.

3) Your annual employee engagement survey is incomplete.

Lastly, this has more to do with employee communication as a whole and less about employee engagement surveys specifically but you may also find this extremely useful when revamping your employee survey strategy. Employee recognition and appreciation as well as consistent manager check-ins (1:1 coaching) can make or break employee engagement at your company.

Employees and teams that get recognized in company wide communications can make a huge positive impact. Don't overlook the power of including a section for appreciation and recognition in your employee engagement surveys.  

The first thing we called out in this blog post is that "37% of employees desired more feedback from their managers". This means that including a steady cadence of opportunities for employees to give manager feedback is something employees actually care about. At TINYpulse, we totally get that and consistently send out pre 1:1 check-in surveys with our people before their manager 1:1s even occur. This not only helps the employee feel like they can lay out all their feedback in an organized way but helps managers feel on top of it with a custom agenda for their 1:1.

If up until this point you were solely relying on your annual employee engagement survey to gain valuable feedback from your teams, you should know by now there is much room for improvement. You're headed in the right direction by taking the time to educate yourself on how you can improve and make your organization a better place to work. 

Learn more about TINYpulse solutions that could help improve employee engagement and feedback at your organizations by booking a demo with one of our engagement experts: 

  • Key Driver Analysis (KDA)
  • Progress Plans
  • and Flexible Surveys/Pulsing

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