The traditional survey process
Both at Philips Electronics and at KMPG, where I worked at the end of last century, I was involved in the design and implementation of the employee engagement measurement process. These were the days of the big surveys. With the help of a prominent provider (ISR) we designed the survey, with certainly more than 100 survey questions (90% standard, 10% tailored). The wording of the questions was adapted to the vocabulary of the organisation. Many sessions were spend on getting buy in from management. The launch was postponed several times (“This is not the right moment for a survey”). Finally the questionnaires were mailed to all the employees worldwide, and around 60% took the time to answer.
A slow process…….
Analysis of the data took a couple of months. The reports were first reviewed and discussed by senior management. It was decided what kind of results the employees could see. Feedback sessions were planned per departments. After the feedback sessions focus groups were installed, to come with suggestions for action in the key areas for improvement (“Communication”, “Quality of Supervision” and “Reward” were always on the list). If you were lucky the focus group came with some concrete suggestions, which were then discussed in the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee made final recommendations for the Board, and then in was time for action. between survey and action many months had passed. Initially the plan was to have an annual survey, bit quickly it was decided to go to a bi-annual survey. The typical traditional survey process is visualised in the picture below.
In summary the traditional survey process was very slow, very top-down and not very action oriented.
The engagement survey process (source: Employee Feedback)
Trends in employee mood measurement
Although many big organisations still conduct (bi-)annual big surveys, over the past years some trends have emerged.
1. An increased frequency in surveying
Many organisations find feedback once per two years not frequent enough. The trend is to survey more frequent. If you survey more frequent, you want shorter surveys, as you do not want to bother the employees with lengthy questionnaires.
Frequent surveys with a limited set of questions are generally called pulse surveys.
Gallup is a good example of a provider of a simple pulse survey. 12 standard questions that give a good indication of employee engagement. Although you can get a good indication of the level engagement by a short pulse survey, it is less possible to get a good insight in the drivers of engagement. What you see some organisations do is combining regular (monthly/quarterly) pulse surveys with more extensive annual or bi-annual extensive surveys.
2. The survey is becoming less of an event
In the traditional process the engagement survey was very much a event. the survey became an HR-intervention. The expectations were high: finally we as employees can express our opinion, and we expect that senior management will take action. Often these high expectations were not met.
With more frequent and less extensive surveys (see 1.) the survey has become less of an event. It is considered normal that the organisational temperature is measured regularly, to check if the organisation and the people in the organisation are moving in the right direction.
3. More passive measurement methods
Most current mood measurement methods are still based on employees having to answer questions. Ease of use has increased. Mobile is becoming the standard. but still the employee has to answer one or more questions.
More passive mood measurement methods are emerging. With current technology it is possible to analyse texts on emotions (e.g. with Tone Analyzer). The e-mails of employees and the messages on internal social media like Yammer can be used as input and analysed with these advanced text analysers. A provider as Keencorp is providing this. Of course there are privacy and ethical issues. If you treat the data in a trustworthy and ethical way (e.g. no reports on individual level) these might be dealt with. The benefits for employees are also clear: they can provide input for fast feedback, without any active involvement.
Recognising emotions in facial expressions is also possible. The providers in this area, as Affectiva, Imotions and nVisio still mainly operate in the marketing domain, but undoubtedly employee mood measurement can be a next opportunity.
4. More advanced analysis techniques
Most extensive employee surveys have one or more ‘open’ questions. Like: “Do you have other suggestions that can help our organisation to improve client satisfaction or employee engagement?”. In the past you would have to read all the answers and find a way to categorise and summarise. Today software can do this and a lot better than you were able to do it. Making sense of the answers of open questions and drawing intelligent conclusions is made possible by many of the employee mood management providers (Workometry is a good example).
Connecting mood measurement results with other important measures (client, financial) is also one of the focus points of the current people analytics teams.
Mapping Employee Mood Measurement providers
We tried to make an overview of current providers of Employee Mood Measurement. There are many, and we realise our overview is not complete. The providers are mapped very subjectively in the graph below. We used two dimensions: Active-Passive, and Slow-Realtime. Most providers require an active involvement of the employee (answering one or more questions). Most providers are moving to the right on the axis Slow-Realtime. Many providers use the word realtime, but this is more related to data-analysis and reporting than to data-acquisition.
The overview does not give any information about the quality of the providers, as our research was not extensive enough to make any judgement about this aspect. It is also not our intention to communicate that realtime and passive is better than slow and active. There are very good traditional survey methods that give you high quality actionable information.
The 27 providers mentioned in the overview can roughly be divided in five different categories. There are the ‘traditional solid’ survey providers (as CEB,Effectory, Korn Ferry Hay, Willis Towers Watson and Gallup). We also see a new group of modern employee mood measurent providers, often offering a platform where the different elements (surveying, analysis, reporting) are integrated (Company Mood, Culture Amp, Engagement Meter, Glint, Intuo, Peakon, Thymometrics, Vibecatch). A third group provides really simple feedback tools, often based on one question, asked at the end of a workday (Blogyourmood, Emooter, Limbi, MoodApp, Smiley, TryLikes). Impraise and TruQu are a separate sub-category: these solutions are mainly designed for employees to gather individual performance feedback and developmental suggestions, but they can also be used to provide more consolidated employee insights.
Measuring is not enough
Employee mood measurement is changing. The possibilities to really measure realtime are still limited, and privacy issues have to be dealt with. Today most employee mood measurement is still based on asking one or more questions to the employees.
Instead of investing in measurement, you can also deal with the root causes. The most important driver of employee engagement seems to be supervisor behaviour. If managers/ supervisors/ bosses show a genuine interest in their people, and help them to develop and perform better, employee engagement is less of an issue. Some years ago Google did some thorough research that resulted in the eight rules for managers to follow (ref. 8 habits of highly effective managers). This list makes sense. If you want your employee engagement to be high, you could invest in selecting and developing the best supervisors for your organisation.
Links to providers:
‘What if technology could adapt to human emotion?’
‘Industry-leading science built on deep learning and the world’s largest emotion database’
Emotion detection software, not yet used for employee engagement measurement.
‘Workforce Analytics and Surveys’
Traditional engagement surveys and pulse surveys.
Active mood measurement in its simplest form: employees push a button when they exit the organisation
‘Weekly mood reviews and feedback in less tha 30 seconds per employee vi browser, our apps or a stationary terminal’.
‘Find the insights you need to help employees succeed’.
‘We’ve brought together experts in technology, data science and organisational psychology to ensure you can get the clarity you need, when you need it. Measuring employee engagement, experience and 360 feedback is simple using Culture Amp.’
Survey based suite. There seems to be a focus on advanced analytics.
‘To provide multinational organisations with innovative HR tooling and solutions to guide them along a journey that continually drives employee engagement. By using the power of employee feedback, we provide inspiring insights that create high quality dialogue and impact.’
Solid traditional employee engagement surveys and pulse surveys. Good benchmarking.
‘A one-step happiness meter – for employees’.
‘Emooter is a place where you can record your every-day job satisfaction, anonymously and completely free. You can track your happiness, see how your company is doing, and find out how your company ranks up in happiness compared to others.
Simple one question mood-measurement, using computer or mobile device.
‘EngagementMeter is an employee engagement software that offers you real-time data on how your team feels. It’s a mood meter that captures anonymous feedback and identifies the main engagement drivers in your company’.
Platform to collect and analyse employee moods.
Pulse surveys with standard 12 question set. Simple.
Read the 12 questions here.
‘Illuminate your organisation’s future’.
‘Understand engagement in real time’.
Platform to conduct and analyse (pulse)-surveys.
‘Human Behavior Research Software, Simplified. Synchronize, Visualize and Analyze your research in Eye Tracking, Facial Expression Analysis, Galvanic Skin Response, Surveys, EEG and much more in one software platform’.
‘Continuous feedback between c0-workers’.
Collecting and analysing feedback. More on individual level than organisational level. Using the tool for organisational surveys is possible.
‘Measure employee commitment and well-being to prevent issues and improve engagement’.
‘Engagement is more about commitment, rather than general happiness. But the way employees feel plays a huge part in their motivation and performance. A good overview is crucial to make improvements’.
Platform to survey employees and analyse the results.
‘Participating in employee surveys are costing your employees time and you money. Let alone the question whether results are reliable and not biased. KeenCorp measures engagement permanently and unobtrusively, so employees are not imposed upon. Their individual privacy is fully guaranteed’.
Keencorp analyses expressions of employees (e-mail, internal social media) to measure employee engagement. Extensive analysis and reporting.
‘People perform to their best when they feel good about their work, and have the tools they need to get the job done. Our employee surveys help organizations measure employee engagement. They help you work out what’s holding people back, and show them what they need to do to have maximum impact.’
More traditional engagement surveys. Standard (Employee Effectiveness Survey) and tailored. Strong benchmarks.
‘What is your Limbi today?’.
Dutch App targeted at consumer market. You can track your daily mood by answering three questions, resulting in a score between 1-10.
‘MoodApp allows every company to get instant feedback from their employees. The HR team creates questions they want to pose to the employees and the employees respond on an iPad as they walk out the door in the evening.’
Simple exit poll, you just need an iPad and an account.
‘nViso provides the most scalable, robust, and accurate artificial intelligence solutions to measure instantaneous emotional reactions of consumers in online and retail environments.’
‘Using award winning artificial intelligence and proprietary deep learning 3D Facial Imaging technology, compatible with ordinary webcams, we uncover the why and how of customer behaviour in real-time, letting brands make smarter business decisions.’
No application in employee mood measurement area yet.
‘Peakon automatically collects employee feedback, analyses it, and then delivers you back the insights you need to improve your business. In real time.’
Platform to collect and analyse employee feedback. ‘Automatically’ and ‘real-time’
‘Next-Generation surveys. Pulses and anytime feedback. Featuring anonymous two-way dialogue for real-time root-cause analysis’.
2daysmoodThe adaptive nature of their survey approach seems attractive.
‘Thymometrics is a ground-breaking employee survey platform that lets you continually understand employee mood and engagement’.
Platform that enables to collect employee feedback. Employees need to complete questionnaire.
‘Online feedback software suitable for all organizations. The best HR Tech solution to collect and analyze feedback. Give employees control over their own development. Use e-HRM to support your employees. HR analytics to make HR smart.’
Collecting and analysing feedback. More on individual level than organisational level. Using the tool for organisational surveys is possible.
‘Measure the experience of your visitors in real-time and create the best experience’.
Hardware with simple exit feedback possibility. Applications more in retail.
‘A unique 15 second employee survey. Continuous reviews, trends and feedback’.
‘Easily distribute employee surveys, gather input, and leverage analytics to assess the effectiveness of individual teams and managers’.
Survey distribution and analysis platform.
‘Use VibeCatch to allow everyone in your company to participate in improving your company’s productivity and work life quality. Spend only couple of minutes to set up the polls (no technical integration required!) and start receiving data automatically.’
Combination of pulse- and more extensive surveys. Including analysis and suggestions for action.
‘The right insights at the right time drive smart decisions about workforce strategy, programs and investments. Towers Watson’s employee engagement surveys help you reach those insights by translating direct input from your people. Through our employee surveys, we help our clients shape high-performance cultures, improve the return on talent investments and deliver measurable business results’.
More traditional employee engagement surveys, with solid benchmarking.
‘Workometry gives you the ability to capture and understand the thoughts, ideas and perceptions of your employees in the most accurate and actionable manner. It is particularly valuable to large, globally distributed organisations with complex needs’.
Platform to gather employee input, with powerful analytics.