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Why DIY Culture Assessments Don't Work: 4 Compelling Arguments for Third-Party Solutions

Why DIY Culture Assessments Don't Work: 4 Compelling Arguments for Third-Party Solutions

Recently a friend in the banking industry showed me a glossy report with the results of an employee engagement survey of his staff. The responses were ranked from high (positive) to low (negative). He cared about his employees and the health of his workplace, and he wanted to work on improvement. But there was no analysis of the data or comparisons to peers in his sector. The survey had been administered with employee engagement questions that are readily available through a google search.

While I appreciated his commitment to his employees, I wondered how he would act on the results. Were the 5 strongest areas for his staff actually big contributors to engagement, or were they incidental? Were the lowest scores indicators of deep problems, or were they areas that often scored low across the sector? The survey didn’t yield results that were effective in guiding actions toward improved workplace health.

This experience caused me to reflect on why leaders in organizations should survey their employees, why they might decide to use a DIY approach, and the value of using an outside organization with specific expertise in employee engagement surveys.

Why Survey for Employee Engagement?

If you are committed to a flourishing workplace, then understanding the current state of employee engagement is a first step. Once you measure with an effective tool and analysis, you will have data to act on. Your action plans are your next steps in improvement. What you measure, you act on. What you act on, you improve.

Consider these reasons to invest in an employee engagement survey:

  • Stewardship: In Christian-led businesses and organizations, leadership is more than just a management function. God calls Christian leaders to shepherd the flock He has entrusted to them. So, caring for employees and improving the health of your workplace is a practice of faithful leadership.
  • Humility: Wise leaders know that they don’t know everything. They seek out quality data to inform their thinking and decision-making.
  • Openness: An effective leader wants to create an environment where employees are valued and where everyone feels that their ideas and feedback are important.
  • Results: Pursuing a flourishing workplace culture with engaged employees sets the stage for mission accomplishment.

The Attraction of DIY Surveys

In-home projects and DIYs have a strong appeal in our culture. Why hire a plumber to replace your garbage disposal when a few YouTube videos will show you how to do it quickly and easily? You will save money and not have to find an outsider to come into your home. But if the project you are undertaking is more complicated, then a DIY outcome might not be of the quality you want in your home. Many people who choose DIY don’t consider the “cost” of their own labor in the project, and they may underestimate the expertise required to effectively complete a project.

When it comes to measuring and acting on employee engagement, there are several factors that can lead someone to the DIY approach.

  • Cost: Asking employees to respond to an internal survey set up in a Google form can seem like a "free" way to assess how your employees are experiencing their workplace. There are hidden costs to this approach. The time that an internal person spends setting up and analyzing the survey will come at the expense of other projects. And actions you take based on limited analysis may not yield improvements, costing leadership energy and employee trust.
  • Control: If you do an internal survey, you may feel like you maintain control of the whole process. It could feel like inviting an outsider to survey your employees is a loss of control. What will this outside expert do with your data? Is your information secure? And once the outsider analyzes the data, will they be telling you what to do with your employees?
  • Comparability: You may feel like your organization is so unique that external comparisons aren’t helpful. You may feel like a third-party survey misses the nuances of how your employees might feel or why they take certain actions.

The Value of Outside Expertise for Employee Engagement

When Best Christian Workplaces comes alongside the leadership of your organization, we are committed to working with you to help your employees flourish as you accomplish your mission. These are a few of the benefits of working with Best Christian Workplaces:

  • Candor: As a third-party expert, Best Christian Workplaces is motivated to tell you the full, helpful, and actionable truth. Unlike an internal employee who is presenting the results of a workplace survey, we are motivated to help you see the truth no matter how difficult it might be in the moment. Our vision is that Christian-led organizations would set the standard as the best, most effective places to work in the world. For this reason, candor is our calling—and we bring it in a constructive and hopeful way.
  • Expertise: While it may seem simple to pull a few questions off the internet, the science of employee engagement is deeper. Using an outside expert who has in-depth knowledge of the drivers of employee engagement will yield reliable, actionable results. You don’t need to be an expert; you can bring in a partner with expertise.
  • Anonymity: Trust is an important part of building employee engagement. Your staff want to know that they can share their views honestly without being penalized for any statements that might be unpopular. An outside expert with a track record of data security and careful analysis is essential for this level of trust.
  • Long-term partnership: You can learn and make changes based on a one-time employee engagement survey with an outside expert. But the real value of a partner with expertise is to show growth over time and help you continue on the journey of improvement year-over-year.

It takes time and energy to move toward a flourishing workplace culture. The benefit is that employees in a flourishing workplace are excited about the mission and vision of the organization and bring their full selves to their work every day. Their enthusiasm fuels the accomplishment of your mission.

Choose Wisely

As a leader, you have choices in how you invest the resources entrusted to you. Being willing to listen to employees and make changes based on information about employee engagement takes time and energy. But when you choose to learn and improve your workplace culture, you are investing in furthering your mission.

If you take the DIY path by performing an internal survey, the time and energy invested might not yield meaningful results that you can act on to improve your employee engagement. You may have a consultant who is working with you on other projects and offers to conduct an employee survey, even if this isn’t their core expertise. This choice might not provide detailed analysis and comparable data to guide decision-making.

If you choose the right expert partner, your investment will yield honest, meaningful, and actionable results. Best Christian Workplaces has partnered with churches, schools, nonprofits, and Christian-led businesses for decades and is committed to supporting the mission of our Ministry Partners.

Recently on the Flourishing Culture Leadership Podcast, Al Lopus, Best Christian Workplaces Cofounder & Board Chair, asked Laura Gardner, CEO of Joni & Friends, why they keep assessing their workplace culture each year, partnering with Best Christian Workplaces.

Laura shared why they have continued to partner with Best Christian Workplaces for 17 years:

We annually assess our employees’ engagement and their drivers for satisfaction, their fulfillment, their physical needs. And you know why? Because the workplace landscape has changed, our employees’ expectations have changed, and we need to listen to our employees to fulfill our commitment as leaders to them, to foster a healthy workplace environment. Each year this process teaches us that even as a mature culture, you still must embrace a relentless commitment to listening, to learning, to adapting, to growing. And we’ve learned that every new generation of employees will have their own set of desires and expectations. And if we want to create a healthy environment for all generations, we need to go on an annual endeavor to listen to them, to learn from them, to adapt, and to grow, and to continue to build on that strong foundation of culture.

Your organization is worth it, your employees are worth it, and your mission is worth it.

Request a sample Employee Engagement report today, and see why Best Christian Workplaces provides the largest and most widely used Christian-based employee engagement database.

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