How Employee Lifecycle Surveys Provide Powerful Talent Insights

The era of lifetime employment at a company is over

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By Leong Chee Tung • Feb 2, 2019 Originally published Feb 2, 2019


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Leaders who can find ways to maximize the time their talent spends with them can create a powerful and sustainable competitive advantage for their companies.

Knowing that each employee's time with your company is limited, there are three main ways to increase their productivity.

1. Reducing ramp time after hiring of the employee: Streamlining the onboarding experience such that each employee can start contributing meaningfully to their teams as early as possible.

2. Increasing maximum output potential at the company: This can be done through effective engagement, training, coaching and mentoring.

3. Lengthening stay at the company: Having a superior employee value proposition and company culture would help directly with this.

A common thread across each of these methods of increasing productivity is the employee experience. This shouldn't be surprising. Having a better experience while learning the ropes and doing the job makes employees become productive faster, tend to go above and beyond their job description and stay longer at their companies. Studies have shown companies that provide a great employee experience outperformed the S&P 500 by 122 per cent.

To Measure and Manage

If it is common knowledge that better employee experience leads to better business outcomes, why is it not yet common practice?

Peter Drucker once said, "What gets measured gets managed." I would tweak this now to "what gets measured together gets managed." While several important aspects of the employee experience might currently be measured, the fact that they are measured in isolation may explain some of the knowing-doing gap in this space. Some key examples:

  • Today, many companies measure employee engagement. According to the head of people analytics at Facebook, surveys are still one of the best ways to measure employee engagement, despite some experimentation with alternative methods. Pulse surveys recently have been helpful in getting a more current view of organizational health.
  • Some companies run onboarding surveys, where they would track the experience of new hires during their time as a candidate, to their first few weeks on the job and some 90 or 180 days after their first day. This allows for a consistent and effective onboarding process that reduces ramp time and positively influences early engagement levels.
  • Surveys done post-training typically stop at just capturing employee reactions to the training. More sophisticated companies run programs to track learning and mastery of the material after it has been taught and also the transfer of training to behaviour change months after.
  • Exit interviews done in-person or through survey provide critical insight about why people choose to leave voluntarily. While there are differing points of view about how accurate data can be collected, having this step formally in the separation process for employees allows important information about events in the employee lifecycle that impact turnover.

Each of these different analyses allows optimization within different parts of the employee experience. However, functioning in isolation prevents leaders and HR teams from generating actionable insight about their people.

Just as companies track data across their customers' lifecycle holistically to derive customer personas and identify ways to delight them, they should do the same across their employees' lifecycle to create personalized and positive experiences.

Employee Lifecycle Insights

Putting all of this data together can yield powerful talent insight. Whether this is a simple matter of slapping together the relevant charts on a single dashboard, or having a more scientifically robust way of normalising the data across stages, establishing a single source of truth for employee experience data is the first step towards strategically managing the employee lifecycle.

There are many good tools out there that can be used to collect and analyse employee lifecycle survey data. Rather than having your data strewn across different silos and increasing the friction of data analysis, using a single tool can give you the power of scalability. Ideally, the tool should also allow you to run analytics across lifecycle stages.

For example, it may become apparent that the reasons candidates apply for jobs at the company are vastly different from why they continue to stay at the company. Or, employees who are more engaged at work learn better and faster than their less engaged peers.

When crafting HR policies for different stages of the employee journey at a company, this data can be invaluable in determining what skills to train managers on to help them engage and retain their staff better, or deciding between investing in free staff lunches or subsidized gym memberships.

Making these decisions using real-time employee feedback data reduces ramp time, increases maximum output potential and lengthens the stay of each employee at the company.

Overall, research of this nature allows the creation of personalized employee experiences - a "one-size-fits-one" approach to the workforce that promises to be more engaging for employees and more productive for employers. Hopefully, this would then turn the common knowledge of wanting to create a better employee experience into common practice.

Leong Chee Tung

CEO-founder, EngageRocket


Leong is the CEO of EngageRocket, an HR tech startup that analyses employee feedback in real-time to advise you on how to manage your team better. Before becoming an entrepreneur, he was Regional Director of Gallup in Southeast Asia. He read Economics at the University of Cambridge, and has an MA in Political Science from Columbia University under the Singapore Armed Forces Overseas Scholarship (SAFOS).

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