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Imagine having a great conversation with a close friend or loved one. You listen intently and curiously because you genuinely care about what they have to say. Not only do you want to understand how they arefeeling but want to see if there was anything you could do to better support them. After they openly and vulnerably share their views, you thank them and tell them you’ll check in again in a year or two! Seems like a silly ending to an otherwise nice relationship discussion, yet this is exactly what we have done for years across industries and organizations. We roll out an organizational survey, share some outcomes, perhaps even launch some change initiatives in hopes of improving outcomesfor the next time we check. Not surprisingly, we are often disappointed when the next cycle doesn’t bring around the marked improvements we were expecting.
"Assessing employee sentiment and engagement at scale to sift for the complex patterns that make up culture is more assessable than ever, but fundamentally still a human endeavor."
Organizations have been buzzing for years about the market being volatile, uncertain, complex…well, we all know the “v” acronym by now, and how this has driven unprecedented and accelerated levels of change. If you didn’tbelieve this to be true or thought it was overhyped propaganda, the shift in the last year may have nudged you over the edge. Keeping an ongoing discussion with employees across an organization, at scale, is no longer a ‘nice to have’, or quite frankly even a competitive advantage. It’s a necessity in maintaining the levels of agility required to serve customers in an increasingly shifting market.
There is no surprise that when we are talking about complexity and scale, technological solutions come to the rescue. The promise to reach thousands of employees across the world, gather and sift through massive amounts of data and extract the insights that can fuel innovation and change is within reach. The myriad tech providers are more adept at providing increasingly intelligent and interconnected solutions. This includes, but is not limited to, the HR systems that allow for processing and extracting insights down to individual employees, at aggregated levels that provide the real insights that drive organizational change. The embedded intelligence, through AI integration, allows the correlation of data across multiple sources to get to what really can be important in driving action and ultimately, business impact. The interconnectivity is vital as companies are constantly gathering internal data through their enterprise systems across geographies and functions. I believe this space will continue to evolve as we get well beyond descriptive and more towards prescriptive analytics support for our business leaders.
Great, so problem solved, right? Well, as the saying goes “if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Assessing employee sentiment and engagement at scale to sift for the complex patterns that make up culture is more assessable than ever, but fundamentally still a human endeavor. It requires an increased level of technological adoption for employees and data fluency capabilities for leaders. Finally, there is the organizational culture component that needs to have enough trust embedded in it to ensure the data is representative of the collective views of the employees. Everyone believes that the assessment intent is not about maintaining control and intrusiveness, but rather about improving effectiveness and experience for all employees, and ultimately customers. We know the answer sits with the intersection of people and technology, and the good news is that the technology is here…and improving. Now, we need to get down to the hard work of embracing this future reality.