Employee happiness

Is your business implementing a corporate-culture survey in an attempt to test the emotional temperature of your staff right now? Every one of my large corporate clients is running one. With new employee value propositions being rolled out as organisations shift from work-from-home into hybrid arrangements, management is desperately trying to figure out how their staff is feeling. However, I’m not convinced that the traditional survey, alone, is the answer anymore.

Of course, there are clever minds, science and trademarked methodologies behind these research surveys. There are dozens of different questions that get asked to get to the answers. Results are produced for each division or department, as well as the company as a whole.

Two of the common themes being measured in company surveys include:

  • The happiness index (e.g. Are staff satisfied, delighted or not happy at all?)
  • Whether staff are good ambassadors for the company/brand (e.g. Are they promoters, detractors or neutral?)

While the results are interesting to know, once the survey results land on a leader’s desk 6 – 12 weeks after the initial research was done, it may have limited relevance and value for some of these reasons:

  • Not everyone replied to the survey
  • Not everyone was honest in the survey
  • Not everyone fully understood what they were being asked
  • Employees have already moved around since the survey was done
  • Team leaders have already moved teams since the survey was done
  • The business landscape has already changed in the interim
  • Individual circumstances of employees have already changed

A fair amount of fear and trepidation accompanies corporate-culture surveys. When leadership, from exco members to team leaders and line managers, receives the results of the survey for their group, they will either feel great or rotten, depending on the metrics. A major flaw in the system is that they are not trained or given skills to shift the dial on the metrics from the baseline presented to them. When you consider that their own performance review may even be measured against these metrics, this is imperative.

How do I know this? Because clients call me to ask how they should proceed from receiving the results of these surveys. They want to know how to take practical steps to ramp up their people focus today.

Don’t wait: create immediate change

The traditional corporate response to a survey is to re-examine their people policy and their mission and vision statement. In big organisations, this always takes time. Where fear and anxiety lurk, we need to take immediate action and it’s not difficult. It’s about paying better attention to your people NOW, particularly in your 1:1 check-ins with your direct reports. This is where the shift will take place.

You don’t have to wait for the wheels in the organisation to turn. Do this:

  • Make sure that every leader (at every level) has a small enough team of direct reports that they can have a 15 minute 1:1 check-in with each of their direct reports every week. If they can’t, then their span of attention is too big. Change it.
  • Make sure that every leader learns/knows how to run a quality 1:1 weekly check-in with their team members. This is not a job appraisal or job review. This doesn’t need any detailed report and preparation from either party. It is a quick, human touch base.
  • Connect with me if you would like a framework for making 1:1 check-ins more effective. Research shows that people cope with change better when they know there is a methodology to follow.

If you, as a leader (exco, team or line management) are going to be judged by how well you shift the dial on these metrics, you can take action. It has far less to do with the company mission, vision, goals and objectives, and far more to do with the quality of leadership and the quality of attention you pay to your individual staff members or direct reports.

Shifting employee engagement from 15%

Being an engaged leader, up front and personal, will shift employee engagement. The global average is horrendous: only 15% of employees are truly engaged at work. It’s not difficult to shift that metric if you shift the quality of your 1:1 check-ins with your direct reports. Ensuring that your team members feel seen, heard, and needed can make all the difference to their long-term loyalty and contribution to the mission and the business.

This culture of paying better and more intentional attention to employees needs to infuse the entire organization, not just mid-level team leaders or line managers. It needs to cascade purposefully down from the top so that employee engagement and happiness can bubble up through the organization.

Who am I?

I am an award-winning speaker and best-selling author. I consult senior leaders on team dynamics, their own positioning, and delivering on the promise of adding value to the business. Send me an email at info@nikkibush.com to chat a little more about how I can help you ramp up your people focus.

Much love,
Nikki Bush
Human Potential and Parenting Expert helping you to win at work and life

Enjoy my video, which explores the reasons behind why we work.