Survey Tools Used to Boost Employee Engagement, Well-Being

By Nicole Lewis June 6, 2023

​Ever since Matthew Grossman became director and head of workforce analytics at Organon, he's been building an employee feedback system that digitizes employees' concerns and generates insights that help managers take action to improve the employee experience. 

Headquartered in Jersey City, N.J., Organon is a global health care company with a portfolio of therapies and products that target women's health care. The company became its own entity in June 2021 after it successfully spun-off from Merck & Co.

Grossman, who started his job when the company began operations, knew that management wanted a better sense of what employees were thinking, not only about their transition to a new workplace, but also about how their remote-work schedules would evolve over time. 

Like many HR executives, Grossman understood the value that feedback from employee surveys could bring to developing strategies for Organon's approximately 10,000 employees, many of whom transitioned from Merck.

Gaining insights into worker sentiments has numerous benefits. Recent data from global technology research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) shows that organizations that invest in Voice of the Employee (VoE) resources are:

  • More likely to realize revenue improvements owing in large part to improved operational success on goals, reduced turnover and improved operational efficiency.
  • More likely to realize improvements in productivity due, in part, to significantly stronger employee buy-in to an organization's operational guidelines and goals. 

To tap into the benefits of employee survey data, Grossman and his team turned to Temecula, Calif.-based company Perceptyx, which provides an employee listening and people analytics platform. Grossman used Perceptyx's tools to target three primary areas:

1. Employee engagement. Organon's HR team wanted to encourage employees to feel connected to their work and understand their level of enthusiasm toward their job.

2. Employee well-being. Organon's HR team wanted to know the extent to which employees feel supported and can balance their work with time to rest or recharge. This was especially important during the pandemic when employees shared their struggles with work/life balance and stress at work. 

3. Belonging. Organon's leadership team wanted their workers to feel accepted for who they are and confident that they will be successful while being their authentic selves. 

"With Perceptyx's tool, we've built an instrument that measures those and other areas about the employee experience that help us understand how we are doing in those three dimensions and what other areas we can work on as an organization that might be driving growth in those areas or detracting from growth," Grossman said.

Putting Data to Work

The pandemic has slowed down since Organon began operations, and the company leveraged data from their surveys to inform U.S. corporate policy. For the 85 percent of employees who work overseas, work schedules are handled on a per country basis.

Initially, Organon gave U.S.-based employees the option to work in the office on a voluntary basis. To monitor employee sentiment over time, Organon's surveys are conducted annually, the first of which occurred in September 2021. Its follow-up survey, conducted one year later, provided insights into employees' behavior and revealed differences in how men and women felt about returning to the office.

"On average, when men came to work at the office, more often their engagement, well-being, and sense of belonging went up," Grossman said. "On the flip side, when women came to work at the office more than once a week, their engagement, well-being and their belonging scores were lower on average." 

Based on this data, Organon implemented a hybrid work model in the U.S. with the expectation that corporate employees who live within a certain radius of the office should all work in the office each Wednesday, and optionally come into the office more often. This, the company decided, helps employees achieve the work/life balance that works best for them. 

"The most important thing to do after a survey's results are shared is to take action," Grossman said. 

In addition to its annual survey of approximately 50 questions, which can be answered in roughly 13 minutes, Organon polls new employees 14 days after they've joined the company and follows up with two additional surveys at 30 days and 90 days.

They also survey employees on an ad-hoc basis to take deeper dives into programmatic initiatives as well as relationships with peers and managers and perceptions of growth opportunities.

Crunching the Numbers

As companies increase the frequency of their employee surveys, software vendors such as Perceptyx, Medallia, Qualtrics and others are providing cloud computing-based platforms that can accommodate tens of thousands of survey participants who use laptops, mobile phones or tablets to participate in surveys conducted anywhere and anytime.

Additionally, visualization tools that quickly present information through charts and graphs, giving HR managers a clearer picture of trends or artificial intelligence that can help organizations sift through employee comments to gain deeper insights, are the kinds of tools that link the employee experience with actions and behaviors. 

According to Joseph Freed, vice president of product at Perceptyx, the company uses natural language processing (NLP) to highlight sentiments and insights from the comments employees add when answering questions that require longer responses.

"We've developed our own natural language processing models which allow, for example, the customer to pull out intense comments that show anger, praise, wants, needs and concerns," Freed said.

Employers using the NLP models "can use those insights to understand the drivers of things like attrition or burnout," Freed added.

Employee survey software can form a common basis for VoE data collection that often gives HR the insights to drive organizational change while helping line managers identify immediate employee issues that then can be resolved in the flow of work, said Zachary Chertok, research manager, employee experience at IDC.

"Without integrated VoE insights with organizational and workforce performance guidance," Chertok said, "organizations are missing an important foundational aspect of connecting employees into the nature of how the organization can and should evolve to meet employee needs around such aspects as well-being, engagement and belonging."

Nicole Lewis is a freelance journalist based in Miami.



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