Why Social Media Cannot Replace The Annual Employee Survey
Author: Hugh Tonks, published: Jul 10, 2013
Originally posted by Hugh Tonks, Thymometrics in Personnel Today on May 22, 2013. Hugh Tonks, CEO of Thymometrics, looks at why employee opinion surveys still matter in the age of social media. A report released in March 2013, Social media and employee voice: the current landscape, summarises the characteristics of social media as it applies to the workplace. Created by Silverman Research for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), it suggests that social media is a valuable tool for increasing the richness and authenticity of the "employee voice", by giving employees more opportunity to air their opinions and to do so in real time. Furthermore, it states that communication via social media is "multi-directional" - that is, a conversation involving multiple people, which can help to capture the "wisdom of crowds" through discussion and the rating of ideas. This is all good stuff, and for balance the report also notes that there may be some barriers to using social media within businesses, such as a lack of trust between employer and employees (in both directions). It's a largely well-written report and worth reading, but if you don't have the time there is a summary on XpertHR Employment Intelligence blog. However, the inclusion of a section within the report titled "the problem with employee surveys" is, to my mind, somewhat disingenuous. It gives the impression that social media could - and perhaps should - be seen as a solution to these problems. But is it?
Three issuesThe report suggests that employee surveys suffer from three main problems:
- they are boring;
- multiple-choice data capture mechanisms and metrics predominate in surveys; and
- surveys often lack real-time data capture and analysis.
Replacing the employee surveyAny potential replacement should be free from as many of the traditional survey's problems as possible. And ideally, it should:
- not be boring;
- not be overly concerned with metrics;
- avoid multiple-choice questions;
- capture data in real time; and
- provide real-time analyses.