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Moving Beyond Employee Surveys

Updated: Feb 8, 2021

2020 was a callenging year, not only for companies, but for the employees that are a company’s most valuable assets. Employees have had to juggle their transition to remote work with the challenges of managing childcare, remote schooling, isolation, and burnout to name a few. And 2021 looks to continue this trend.

Accordingly, it has never been more important for companies to understand how their employees are coping and ensure that they’re providing the help and support necessary to maintain an engaged, productive and happy workforce.

Ongoing conversations between managers and their reports during 1-1s represent a key technique for ensuring that employee concerns are heard and addressed. However, most companies want to go further. Employee surveys frequently represent an important method of reaching out to employees, showing that management is listening and values employee well-being. Hopefully the collection of sentiment and engagement data through surveys can be used to help companies improve the employee experience.

However, surveys are not a panacea. While many common problems are a consequence of poorly designed surveys and can be minimized with careful thought and design, some critical problems are beyond the control of the survey designer. Do employees believe they can/should answer honestly? Will employees feel comfortable answering questions that potentially portray themselves in a negative light? Many employees may choose not to even respond to the survey, because they are too busy, disengaged, or don’t believe anything will change or improve based on their participation.

Additionally, employees may become increasingly disengaged if nothing is perceived to improve following their responses, or if companies keep asking the same or seemingly irrelevant questions repeatedly. Surveys also represent point-in-time insights, and survey fatigue is all too real if companies poll their employees too frequently.

Until recently, however imperfect, surveys may have represented the best option for management to understand the health of their company. However, in the last couple of years, transformative advances in natural language processing (NLP) have enabled alternative ways to extract continuous real-time insights about employee engagement and morale.

RSquared provides a plug-n-play solution to passively distill insights from employee communications, including company emails and digital chats. Using deep-learning models trained to understand the subtleties of enterprise communication, results can be aggregated to understand the morale, engagement and collaboration of teams, organizations and regions. The real-time nature of these insights can provide more accurate, actionable information to employers as they respond to today’s rapidly changing employee environment, and work to understand the impact of strategic decisions, new initiatives and reorganizations.

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