Dsg: Why are so many companies failing to see results from their EES?
TCPS: Surveys are essentially quantitative research tools used for measuring and monitoring the pre-determined dimensions of a particular subject (in this case, employee engagement). These pre-determined dimensions of employee engagement are almost always not driven by the company’s culture and not customised based on its employee experience. In other words, companies may not be measuring and monitoring things that truly matter, which leads to an inability to yield relevant corrective strategies for impactful post-survey implementation.
It is a perennial problem; once a quantitative EES is conducted, most companies will bypass the exploring mode and proceed directly to one of two modes - solutioning or reasoning. And inevitably, there will be assumptions made as to what employees want and why things are the way they are.
Is there then any alternative to help companies find out what employees are really looking for and why certain trends are happening?
There is another type of EES – Employee Empathy Studies. It is a qualitative study grounded on the principles of empathy, where we will gather employees’ perspectives, by allowing them to share what matters most to them through the use of pictures.
Empathy studies can uncover what truly matters to employees, making it an exceptional tool in explaining why they are feeling a certain way about an issue. In fact, this empathetic approach is an important element of the design thinking process – a human-centred approach to innovation to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and come up with innovative solutions through prototyping and testing.
Why is empathy so important?
Empathy is the capacity to imagine oneself in the situation of another by feeling their emotions, seeing their perspectives, hearing their feedback, and discovering people’s needs and pain points. With empathy, we could potentially be uncovering also the unmet needs of the employees and how they feel about those needs.
Consequently, empathy can apply to a wide range of people – customers, colleagues, employees, bosses, suppliers, partners, and more, cementing the fact that empathy is critical for businesses.
This could still be a fuzzy concept to grasp, right?
Some corporate leaders might think that empathy is a fuzzy concept, perhaps because they are more acquainted with quantitative surveys than qualitative studies. Generally, quantitative data is also presented in a more structured way. However, qualitative data can produce more robust findings, where we can extract meaningful insights from a small sample size.