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Unlocking the ROI: Justifying the Cost of Employee Engagement Surveys

Unlocking the ROI: Justifying the Cost of Employee Engagement Surveys

Hesitation about the cost of surveying is one of the most frequent concerns I hear from our Ministry Partners. This is a reasonable concern; you’ve been tasked with shepherding the sacrifice of others (through their donations) so you want to steward those funds well in order to maximize impact. At the same time, you also want to balance caring for your staff well and investing in people requires investing funds. This is a delicate balance.

It can be tempting to overlook employee engagement for the sake of ministry impact, but low employee engagement (resulting in high turnover) could actually be bleeding your ministry dry. Ministry impact should not come at the cost of the well-being of your employees. 

In my own experience, surveying was an important tool to help build and support an engaged team, maximize ministry impact, and steward donor funds well. In fact, during my tenure as CEO of Compassion Canada, one of the most significant reasons for growth was Best Christian Workplaces's principled, proven approach to helping us build a healthy, flourishing culture. I'm so thankful we chose to invest in our own culture by surveying.

A healthy workplace culture is the building block for organizational impact. We couldn’t afford to neglect healthy employee engagement; neither should you. The cost of an employee engagement survey is certainly worth it - and unlocks exponential returns!

Surveying Helps to Demystify Reality

As leaders, we don’t know what we don’t know. You may think you know what’s going on, but without a diagnostic tool, you may miss warning signs or make assumptions about reality that aren’t true. Data helps give you the full view.  

Just like you might go to an annual physical, an employee engagement survey helps leaders assess the health of an organization. Should you choose to avoid going to your annual physical, for example, you could find out years down the road about lingering issues. Delaying action until a health crisis can worsen small problems, making them harder and costlier to resolve. The same is true for surveying.

Ask yourself: How important to the bottom line is a healthy and happy workforce? If it’s not important, don’t invest. However, I’d strongly encourage you to reconsider this perspective. An organization that chooses to avoid or postpone prioritizing a healthy culture will be an organization out of business sooner rather than later. Pizza Friday isn’t going to fix all of your culture problems - you need a diagnostic approach like Best Christian Workplaces' Employee Engagement Survey - to effectively look under the hood at what is really going on.

The “Cost” of Healthy Engagement Is a Cost Worth Spending

According to Gallup, disengaged employees cost the world $8.8 trillion in lost productivity. And disengagement doesn’t exist in a vacuum - it permeates throughout the entire organization. Like a domino effect, disengagement decreases overall employee morale, productivity, impact, retention, and ultimately revenue. By choosing to neglect employee engagement because of cost, you actually risk losing bottom-line revenue due to disengagement.

In the long run, investing in employee engagement has exponential returns. The “cost” of investing in promoting healthy engagement is a cost worth spending. And the data backs it up. Gallup has found that top engaged organizations report: 

  • 10% higher customer loyalty/engagement
  • 23% higher profitability
  • 18% higher productivity (sales)
  • 14% higher productivity (production records and evaluations)
  • 18% lower turnover for high-turnover organizations (those with more than 40% annualized turnover)
  • 43% lower turnover for low-turnover organizations (those with 40% or lower annualized turnover)

In my 30 years of ministry experience, I’ve seen first-hand how the happier staff are, the more energy they are able to bring to the table. When we began surveying with Best Christian Workplaces and implementing the learnings and feedback we received, I began to see our staff bring new life and excitement to the ministry. Our staff became more proactive and creative, more passionate, and developed a deeper sense of ownership over their work. We not only saw an increase in employee morale but also increased revenue and donor retention.

Additionally, we saw significant increases in staff retention. Employee turnover is expensive - it’s estimated replacing an employee costs approximately one-half to two times that employee’s annual salary. You have the ability to significantly minimize this cost by investing in a healthy, engaged culture! As our staff became more passionate and engaged, we also saw an increase in paid staff volunteering their time to support the ministry outside of work. They had greater ownership over their work and wanted to be a part of the solution and go the extra mile. It was inspiring to see and made our ministry impact that much more significant.

Surveying gave me and the rest of our leadership team the tools we needed to help discern our areas of weakness so we could be a more efficient ministry. Now, as I work with Ministry Partners every day, I see these same results in organizations around the globe as they choose to make the important choice to invest in their people.

We Have a Higher Calling

As a ministry leader, you have the important responsibility of using someone else’s hard-earned funds to make a lasting impact. At the same time, money is not the only answer to solving some of the world’s greatest problems like poverty, healthcare, homelessness, clean water, etc. You also need strong infrastructure and healthy and engaged teams to do the hard work day in and day out.

Many unhealthy organizations use people as a means to an end to affect the bottom line and produce results. We, as Christian ministry leaders, have a higher calling. A person sacrifices a great deal to follow the call into ministry. This calling is toward a greater mission to make a difference in the world - this should not be taken lightly. Remember, you work with people, not robots. The greatest gift you can give your employees, as an act of gratitude for their sacrifice to work with you in this greater mission, is to prioritize employee health and engagement.

The healthier you are, the more you can produce—the healthier your staff, the bigger the impact on your overall mission. Just like you’d enhance your own physical health by investing in new habits or a healthier lifestyle, you can do the same for the health of your organization. In the long run, an investment in employee engagement is an investment worth making.



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