The annual survey isn’t dead yet

In recent years there’s been much talk about whether the annual employee engagement survey is dead.

With 7 in 10 organisations still running their employee engagement survey in an annual cycle, it’s clearly not dead, but at WorkBuzz we say it’s more undead than anything else.


Well, employees are expecting change faster. And a lot happens in a year – if you’re only measuring your employees’ engagement and asking for their opinions once a year, you may be missing out on important opportunities to take a measure of your organisation.

Wouldn’t you like to understand how employees feel about new business initiatives or programmes when they’re introduced? Gauge their opinion on leadership and how change is being managed as it happens? Would it be helpful to understand where problems with line management are arising so they can be nipped in the bud, rather than going unnoticed for a year?

By nature of an annual surveys’ ‘regularity’, many organisations are trapped into thinking of engagement as a one-off annual event. A continuous programme of engagement is better supported by having shorter, more regular surveys that can then be discussed and acted on with employees so it becomes a regular occurrence in their working lives. By treating engagement this way, many organisations struggling to retain their staff have been successful in uncovering reasons people will leave the organisation, and addressing them before they do.

Organisations that have broken away from this more traditional method, in favour of more regular surveys are more satisfied. 67% of those who run quarterly surveys stated they were either ‘Very Satisfied’ or ‘Satisfied’, compared with 51% of those that run annual surveys and 44% of those who run their employee engagement survey every 18 months.[1]

Because of the changing expectations of employees, as well as the appetite from employers to get more feedback in a timely way and improve manager competence, we believe the annual survey is like a zombie – it’s functional and will continue to give you all the things you’d expect of an engagement survey, but it’s rotting away and eventually it will not serve the needs of future employee bases who expect their voices heard, and feedback to be acted on instantly.

With all this to contend with, it’s important that an organisation introduces engagement surveys at a pace in line with the heartbeat of change of the organisation. For that reason, at WorkBuzz we made a simple list of pros and cons of the traditional annual survey vs. a more regular pulse survey to help you decide what will work best for you:

How quarterly pulse surveys and traditional annual surveys compare:

Still not sure? Request a demo here and we’ll give you a call to help you decide what makes most sense for your organisation.


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