Talent Analytics

Moving Towards Continuous Listening – What the Future Holds

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The traditional approach of annual or every other year employee opinion surveys is evolving. At this year’s SIOP conference, four organizations that have already moved towards a more continuous approach to listening to their employees shared their view on what the future holds.

Joining panel chair Chris Lovato from IBM were speakers sharing perspectives from Home Depot, State Farm, Campbell’s Soup Company and Esterline. Here are the highlights from this SIOP 2017 conference session:

More agile organizations demand fresher data
One driving force behind the move to more frequent surveying of employees was acknowledged to be the increasing agility of organizations.  When employee opinions are only gathered every one or two years, HR leaves itself open to criticism of the resulting data being out of date. With more frequent data gathering, there is more confidence that the data is reflective of the business as it is today.

Technology makes faster and frequent surveying possible
It once took weeks or months to set up, administer and analyze survey data. With advancements in technology, it is now possible to administer employee surveys on a much more frequent basis. Reporting is almost immediate following survey completion and actions can begin more quickly than ever before.

Advancements in text analytics were also cited by panellists as a welcome technological development. Using open-ended questions provides rich data that is much easier and quicker to analyse using robust text analytics solutions.

Don’t be deterred by warnings of survey fatigue
The panellists acknowledged that with more frequent surveying comes the potential issue of survey fatigue among employees. They had the following advice based on their experiences:
Conduct shorter surveys – pick the questions that relate to key strategic issues or specific action areas and keep it tight. Pulse surveys are a great way to conduct a deeper dive on certain topics enabling organizations to take action in a timely manner.
You don’t always need to pulse the entire workforce – some panellists surveyed a 25% representative sample of their employees on a quarterly basis, others surveyed 5% on a monthly basis. Appropriate sampling does not diminish the validity of the data and avoids survey fatigue.

Analytics moves beyond HR
One of the exciting areas of development in continuous listening discussed in this session concerned analytics. With the advent of more agile and cognitive analytics solutions, organizations are finding it much easier to bring together different data sources to reveal critical insights. One panellist talked about connecting employee engagement data with operational data to explore the links between people and productivity.

Finally, as Chris Lovato pointed out, regardless of the frequency and depth of your listening efforts, it is critical to have a definitive purpose behind each survey and an overarching strategy for the administration and actions expected from the surveys. Clarity from the outset is everything.

Find out more about IBM’s continuous listening and cognitive analytics solutions to help with interpretation of data in our Amplifying Employee Voice homepage.

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