Something went wrong, please try again later.


Employee surveys are a waste of time

21 Jan 2016 - Blog

Employee surveys are a waste of time


Naturally, for an employee engagement consultancy that uses surveys to identify issues and measure progress – the conversation around this topic has got our attention.

What is going wrong?

This backlash to the annual survey has come about because too many of them are badly done – slow to report, with poor participation and focused on the wrong things. People have got excited launching the fanciest survey tool they can find that produces whizzy results. Of course this is important, but surely the only point of the exercise is to get results in an interpretable, actionable format and then – get on with making change happen in your organisation?

What is a waste of time

  1. Doing a survey then doing nothing about the result 
  2. Doing a survey but not communicating what’s happened since the last one 
  3. Doing a survey but not listening to staff in other ways
  4. Asking your employees for their thoughts via monthly polls or pulse surveys, but not allowing time for change to happen in between
  5. Making your pulses or polls so frequent you get respondent fatigue and poor response rates

What is not a waste of time:

  1. Focusing 1/5 of your energy on getting your people’s input through your survey, then 4/5 of your energy making change happen
  2. Asking your employees for their thoughts via frequent polls or pulse surveys, but only when something has happened as a result of the last feedback
  3. Engaging leaders, champions and an effective comms plan to stimulate a cracking survey response rate

People Insight’s approach

We think it’s really important that engagement activity has both a solid grounding in research and a very pragmatic bias. That’s why our office is packed to the rafters with business psychologists and experienced senior people managers. The theoretical and the practical. The yin and yang.

We run engagement surveys, yes, via some super smart technology (call us to check it out!), but our main energy and focus goes into developing insights and leading clients through action to deliver organisation change:

  1. Using statistics to make links and patterns between themes to identify priority areas of concern
  2. Providing context and recommendations for action based on expertise & experience
  3. Providing managers with support at all levels to understand what they need to do
  4. Making the whole process simple and easy to understand

The beauty of this is that our approach works: our clients improve their engagement scores on average by 7% after working with us, and their employees are 20% more likely to feel that something will happen as a result of the survey. Not bad, even if we do say so ourselves. Check out one of our clients’ progress below:

One client’s 14 percentage point improvement in engagement score



So you’ll find our account managers asking themselves;

  1. “have I made the insights super clear so my client can get on and start their change programmes?”
  2. “have I helped my client get the buy in from the board they need to make change happen?”
  3. “has my client’s engagement score moved in the right direction?”

– these are the things we care about.

Don’t blame the survey

The survey isn’t a waste of time.  It is thriving in organisations that actually do something with the results.  Engagement partners should be focused on helping their clients achieve change as a result – because it’s not the question you ask, but what you do with the answer that counts.


Back to Insights

Great insights.
Delivered to you monthly.

Sign up to our monthly newsletter for all the latest in workplace culture and engagement

You can unsubscribe by sending an email to at any time.

We never share your details with other organisations for the purpose of marketing.

You might also be interested in