There’s a Lot You Can Still Learn From Bad Employee Surveys

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I’m a believer in the value of surveys. I really am.

But poorly constructed or terribly worded surveys send me off. They are a waste of time of the people you are surveying and, worse, a waste of resources if actually used for decision making.

Case in point – this survey that reports on what makes employees “feel good” at work.

Is the point of work only to “feel good?”

What does that exactly mean – “feel good?” Some people feel good when there’s good coffee in the café. Others “feel good” when they steamroll whoever they need to achieve their goals. An excerpt:

A survey [poll of 1,400 workers] by Samaritans and Simplyhealth has revealed that getting on well with the people you work with is the most fulfilling part of a job, with 42 percent of respondents saying that positive relationships helped them to feel good at work. In comparison, only 14 percent cited hitting their targets as their top factor for feeling good at work.”

The challenges with this are obvious. Yes, of course, good relationships at work are important. That’s why it’s one of the Gallup Q12 questions (“I have a best friend at work.”). But the point of work is to achieve the targets and goals laid out for you.

What if you could build those relationships at work in a strategic way to help achieve targets and, as a result, get much more than “feeling good?”

“Unworkable relationships” impact productivity

Another article in the same publication makes my point for me. It doesn’t matter if your relationships make you “feel good” if you don’t know how to build and use those relationships effectively.

According to research released today, half of UK employees feel that their organisation does not help them develop good team working skills.

The survey of 2,000 people, conducted by training consultancy, Cedar, revealed…that unworkable relationships within teams had a direct effect on productivity, with a third of those surveyed admitting that they dread going into work as the result of a bad team environment. Furthermore, a third of respondents feel that a tense atmosphere has an impact on their ability to do their job correctly.”

Relationships at work are undeniably critical to achieving targets. And managers do have a direct responsibility for facilitating healthy relationships (especially in removing bullies or others who are intentionally, consistently detrimental to relationships).

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Building work relationships naturally

Everyone has a responsibility for building positive relationships that also drive individual and team performance and productivity. That’s where a strategic, social employee recognition program comes in.

When everyone is committed to noticing and appreciating the achievements and efforts of those around them, relationships are naturally built in a positive way. And goals and targets are achieved.

What’s the worst survey you ever saw?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at


2 Comments on “There’s a Lot You Can Still Learn From Bad Employee Surveys

  1. I used surveys effectively for over 15 years but feel new social technology is far better. Measuring culture, engagement, employee satisfaction or other areas once a year is better than nothing but people need tools to understand current status and manage improvement efforts all the time. One example is social technology from and others examples will be the trend. You wouldn’t measure sales, profit or other key metrics once a year and it’s crazy to have measures without related tools to manage improvement.

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