Employee Engagement Survey Says 59% of HR Pros Are Voting For Obama

I see a lot of surveys, and most of all, I see a lot of employee engagement surveys.

There’s a reason for that: everyone wants to improve engagement, but few seem to have the foggiest notion of how to actually do it. So, many look to surveys on the subject to try to help figure out how to help get workers more invested in their jobs.

A great many engagement surveys offer some insights into how to do this, but I don’t think this one falls into that category.

According to Quantum Workplace, a company that says it “delivers smart tools for achieving and recognizing workplace awesomeness” (I am not making this up), voters who say they are voting for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney are more engaged in the workplace than those who are going to vote for President Obama, according to a new Quantum Workplace study.

Romney voters are a little more engaged

Although the poll shows Romney voters taking the lead in engagement, it shows Obama winning the race with a 52 percent lead over Romney.

According to the press release from Quantum Workplace, “this is the only poll of its kind focusing on the relationship between voter behavior and employee engagement,” and all I can say is, thank God for that, because mixing politics, the workplace, and employee engagement is a perilous exercise at best.

Here’s a little more detail from Quantum Workplace about the survey:

Overall, our poll shows Obama with a 52 percent to 39 percent lead over Romney. The gap appears more pronounced than polls focused merely on “likely voters.” Our panel was given options such as “Other” and “Don’t intend to vote” which together accounted for 9 percent of the participating Americans.

With employee engagement levels, our research shows Romney voters have a slight, but meaningful edge over Obama voters. We define employee engagement as the presence of three behaviors among workers: discretionary effort, intent to stay, and advocacy. We measure engagement by having employees rate 37 items on a 6-point scale between Strongly Agree and Strongly Disagree. Each survey participant is assigned an engagement score based on their responses — shown on a 100-point index. Here are the averages:

  • Average Engagement Score of Romney Voters: 86.8
  • Average Engagement Score of Obama Voters: 86.1

Since most employees score between 60.0 and 92.0 on this index, the 0.7 difference between the subgroups is statistically significant.”

There are a few things that I don’t understand in this. One, I’m not sure what “advocacy” refers to in Quantum Workplace’s definition of employee engagement. I know that no one has a good handle on what employee engagement actually is, but “advocacy” is not a term I see pop up in any other definitions by anyone else, and I read a ton of these surveys.

Secondly, the claim that the 0.7 percent difference between engagement scores for likely voters is “statistically significant” may be true, but to what end? I’m not sure what is significant about that difference, and Quantum Workplace doesn’t elaborate.

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Nearly 60% of HR pros intend to vote Obama

What it DOES add is this:

We know from 10 years of workplace research that engagement tends to increase the higher up the organizational ladder one gets. And income rises as position level rises. Therefore this data supports the notion that Romney support is coming higher income workers.

A fact for our readers in the Human Resources profession: 59.6 percent of HR professionals intend to vote Obama. That’s compared to 32.1 percent of HR who support Romney.”

According to Greg Harris, Quantum Workplace’s president, in a press release about the survey, “We know that engagement tends to increase the higher up the organizational ladder one gets and income rises as position level rises. Our findings support the notion that Romney votes will come from higher income workers, while Obama appeals to a larger chunk of Americans who are frustrated with their work.”

A Full Employment Act for HR pros?

I’m a little surprised by the finding that HR professionals are so strongly leaning toward Obama, especially given how much extra work his policies are creating for HR professionals. From Obamacare to all the workplace legislation and regulation coming from various federal agencies, boards, and commissions, our president is adding a lot on to the plate of HR pros.

But maybe that’s the point: if you are in human resources, Obama’s policies represent the HR professional’s Full Employment Act. Somebody has to handle the never-ending flow of workplace regulations coming out of Washington these days, and if you’re in HR, all this activity means that not only will you be very busy but that your job is probably secure for another four years if Obama beats Romney next month.

That’s probably the most significant finding from this engagement survey — HR people tend to like Obama a little more than they like Romney because he keeps them gainfully employed dealing with lots of new workplace rules and regulations that seem to never end.

That’s a long way from employee engagement, of course, but with surveys, it’s best to take what you can get even if it isn’t exactly what you expect.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.


7 Comments on “Employee Engagement Survey Says 59% of HR Pros Are Voting For Obama

  1. Interesting survey, John. No matter what side of the fence you are on, one thing is clear from this survey: employee engagement is a topic many are finally recognizing as a big deal (even if this survey wasn’t expected, as you noted). That in itself is something to celebrate!

  2. Can’t say I agree with your conclusion, John.  Most HR Obama supporters I know are doing so because they prefer his economic and social policies; it has nothing to do with HR-related regulations. 

  3. Funny. I just read the “M&Ms Recruiting Test: How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything” article, and found several issues with this one. A few seconds into the article, readers will run into a run-on sentence. In fact, the author begins and ends this sentence by telling us that what he writes is “According to Quantum Workplace”.
    A quick gloss over the article revealed further inconsistencies. According to the title, “59%” of HR pros plan to vote Obama. Later on, however, a heading saying that “Nearly 57%” of them will do so introduces a quote from the study that says that “59.6%” plan to vote for Obama. I.e., 60%, not 59% or 57%.

    I hope the author is not in charge of selecting employees for his firm. As a job seeker with an MBA from a top five program, I cringe at the idea of my career being left at the mercy of a similarly-skilled HR “pro” with such a tragically embarrassing attention to detail.

  4. John, while I almost always agree with your perspective, I’ve got to agree with Steve on this point… besides, I don’t like the implication that HR pros need to vote for a politician that will provide “make work opportunities because they don’t have the confidence, skills, or influence to have a positive impact on the business.

  5. James, you are absolutely right. I’m never reading John’s articles again. This isn’t the first he has written with multiple inconsistencies.

  6. John–“Advocacy” is simply the willingness employees have to brag about their workplace. It’s an outcome of employee engagement. The concept was born from traditional market research. Just like happy clients when they refer a friend are “brand advocates”. It’s a critical component for companies wanting to measure and manage their employer brand.

    1. Thanks Greg. I appreciate the insight because I have never heard or read about “advocacy” in an employee engagement context. It certainly makes sense, but I wonder: why do so many employee engagement surveys fail to mention it? If it is a key factor — and I can certainly see that it is from your description — why isn’t it more of a universal metric when it comes to engagement?

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