Small banner illustration of a desk top, plant, computer and lamp. Large banner illustration of a desk top, plant, computer and lamp.

Mar 2018

5 reasons why your boss doesn’t want to run an employee engagement survey and 5 why he or she really should

Author: John Tarrant

We’ve all been there. In the office of the M.D. trying to make the case for running that essential all staff engagement survey. They fidget, wince a bit and even go into the foetal position… and the following are real examples as to why they’ve not wanted to run one.

“If we do it later in the year we might get a more favourable result”. Or more likely you won’t. Or more likely you won’t do it then either.

“We haven’t done one for years”. So now is the perfect time to be honest, open and humble and show that you’re willing to listen and willing to act. You can’t change the past but you can take control of what happens from now on. So do the right thing.

“We didn’t do anything with the results from the last one”. Same response as the last point.

“I don’t want to set expectations on things that I can’t deliver on”. Fair enough, then don’t. There’s no reason you need to do so. Be very clear on what is and isn’t in scope and feedback clearly and transparently on the results. Oh, and if there’s an elephant in the room this might be a chance to deal with it.

“Ah, it’ll be a whingers free for all”. Well not if you phrase the questions in the right way . And wouldn’t you want to really know why they feel that way (remember it doesn’t matter whether they’re right or wrong it’s how they feel that you need to deal with). Is it an engagement issue, is it an enablement issue or a cry for help? Or a cry that they really want to help and have a contribution to make?

So, why should he/she?

It’s a statement of intent. You’re valued, we’re listening and we’re going to act.

You can’t improve what you don’t accurately measure… and that includes the employment experience you and your leaders and managers deliver. Be objective. And hold your managers to account to deliver improvement over time. 

The staff and clients have all the answers. It can be lonely as an M.D. Get the listening right and the good ideas won’t all have to come from you.

You’ll get a mandate for change and learn more about the business. A whole lot more. What’s holding you back, where are the disconnects and where is there positive potential that’s as yet untapped?

It’s what leaders do. Enough said.

Funnily enough, once they take the plunge they enjoy the process, see its immense value and wish they’d done it earlier.

A word of warning however, the quality of the questions are key – be brave if you want real gains not glossy, not superficial. And use two or three carefully crafted free text questions – these could and should be business gold dust for you. And outsource to a third party. The feeling the staff have of discretion and confidentiality are key. You’re undervaluing the process if all replies go to HR.

And finally set the project as you would any other good business project – clear objectives, clear project plan, follow up, review and deliverables. To be seen as the leader you want to be this is an essential pillar of your role. Remember leadership is a behaviour and it’s 99% communication. And as for communication, an my mum used to say, ‘You have two ears and one mouth for a reason…..’

Get in touch today to discuss how DNA can help you launch your engagement survey on

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