I am often asked how the data generated by this survey compares to other surveys. This raises some very interesting questions.
Gallup’s Q12 Survey asks just 12 questions, and benchmarks the results against the responses of 25 million other employees. Gallup’s latest data shows that 13% of employees surveyed are “actively engaged”, while 87% of those surveyed are either “disengaged” or “actively disengaged”. this means that more than eight out of 10 employees are either passively or proactively undermining the strategy of their own organization!
So when I am asked about benchmarking our survey data with others – and Gallup’s survey is the most widely used in the world – I have three responses:
- If an organization brags about being in the top 10 percentile, what does this mean, since only 13% of employees surveyed are engaged?
- Why are we settling for “engaged” employees? Surely the standard we should be striving for is something much more ambitious – “inspired” employees. And not just 13% of them either.
- One of the questions we ask in our survey is, “Is your leader truthful?” Why does it matter if we benchmark this information against the responses of 25 million other people? Surely the only criteria that we should be considering is how our own employees feel about their leaders? What 25 million other people feel is irrelevant. Even if the information is “inaccurate” it still describes the real perceptions of respondents to our survey, and thus indicates an issue needing our attention. What is happening in other organizations is beside the point – this is a very personal question which pertains to relationships among people in our own organization.
Generally speaking, employee engagement surveys (what a mediocre term!) do not address the sensitive issues that really turn off employees in organizations. We need to grapple with the deep issues that, when addressed with candor and support, propel organizations to high-performance, helping them to become inspiring beacons that ignite passion in employees, and therefore, customers. “Engagement”, while commercially attractive for survey purveyors, cannot be a path to high performance.
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