By Gloria Lombardi

Building a culture of employee engagement isn’t an annual event. So, why should companies get a sense of what is happening inside their organisations only once per year? As the demand for agility and speed of change has been exponentially accelerating, isn’t it perhaps time to approach measurement in a different way?

These questions are what prompted Thymometrics to provide a new type of cloud-based, always-on employee engagement surveys. Their solution – launched at the beginning of 2013 – identifies and analyses staff views, not just once a year but in real-time and at any time as these views evolve.

“Today, the traditional annual questionnaires don’t work anymore,” says Thymometrics’s VP Marketing David Godden.

“They don’t give the real-time visibility and transparency that progressive companies require. The old fashioned way of tracking colleagues’ level of involvement is a recipe for disaster.” “By the time you have collected, analysed and presented your findings everything has completely changed. You are left with no insights into what your people really think and feel about working for you. And, based on that out-dated information, you end up with implementing staff programmes and making decisions that are very far from what your organisation requires. The results? Huge costs for the company, an unhappy workforce and many missed opportunities to foster productivity and internal communications.”

A different approach to survey: always-on!

Distancing itself from the scenario above, Thymometrics provides businesses with the opportunity to get employees’ feedback on an on-going basis. Because the tool is always available, workers can express their feelings, voice and work satisfaction whenever they have something to say.

“It is important for the organisation’s health that people are encouraged to have a say regularly. Common and frequent situations like getting a pay rise, moving office or having a new manager coming in can have huge impacts on individuals’ happiness and productivity” says Godden. He believes: “measurement should be done every two weeks, or at least once a month.”

The tool looks at twelve specific (and customisable) factors: environment, resources, management, salary, benefits, work-life balance, involvement, job security, opportunity, recognition, contributing and fulfilment. It is able to track the relationship between the satisfaction and the importance of each factor for every employee. Plus, the solution provides staff with an additional facility where they can ask any questions as well as write anything that comes to their minds (from describing delicate situations such as bullying, mistreatments, relationships with the boss and colleagues, to less serious ones – but still relevant for them – such as cafeteria food, etc.). Then, they can request – if they want to – a response on that particular issue. The data is constantly checked by the system and appropriate messages are fed back to the particular departments of the organisation that needs to deal with the issue.

This has huge implications for internal communicators. Now they have a new type of awareness of their colleagues’ needs and perceptions of working for that organisation. Everyday they can see employees’ thoughts, concerns and ideas, gaining a better understanding of the many issues that a single annual survey would not be able to monitor. “And, with that fresh, up-dated awareness they can start acting in a more meaningful way before problems become critical and, therefore, very often difficult to resolve,” stresses Godden.

Among the organisations that see the value of this new tool is Red Gate Software. “The benefits of getting more immediate real-time results, rather than biannual snap shots, is enormous,” states Helen Joyce, Head of People Team at Red Gate Software. “If potential issues or specific questions are raised via the anonymous Communicate module in Thymometrics, it is easy to segment that group of people to follow up with an immediate response” continues Helen. “Before Thymometrics, Red Gate would have to send out another communication or survey to all staff, regardless of relevance to most recipients. This had the effect of information overload and, as such, messages started to be ignored. Now we can look back over any given period to see how opinions on any factors shift and, importantly, by any segment of staff allowing us to ask why and what can be done to improve the situation. This is a level of two-way communication that was not possible before Thymometrics was introduced” concludes Helen.

Deep inside into anonymous data

The platform provides an array of tools and dashboards through which organisations can access their data. Communicators can view reports from the last week, the last month, the last year, the last five years, and so on; they can get detailed and diverse benchmarks depending on the what they are looking for. They can delve deep into granular data, and generate a breadth of insight from the individual to the organisation and everything in between.

Data can also be exported, extracted and integrated with other technology solutions. For example, if they wanted to, organisations could also install the tool into an internal social media platform. However, Godden makes it clear that Thymometrics is not designed as a solution for collaboration; it is an entirely original product different from enterprise social networks or cooperative tools as it relies on the principle of anonymity. “It is an anonymous environment for people to be able to express their feelings without others to knowing who they are. It is about giving people a voice at an anonymous and confidential level, while still making sure they are heard and acted upon.”

‘Acting’ on real-time feedback is not a choice

When a system of real-time feedback from employees is in place, how should an organisation approach communications? “Establish a mechanism through which your employees feel they are being taken seriously. That implies always acknowledging that their questions and thoughts have been carefully considered,” suggests Godden.

So, put on-going listening into your organisational agenda! And, “most importantly, provide feedback on how the company is going to act on those insights. Even if anything cannot really be done, still make sure you explain the reasons why and keep the interactions on the topic open.

The point of using an always-on survey such as Thymometrics is to achieve improved relationships between departments, while breaking down those silos and barriers that the company might not have been aware of by using a more traditional approach to employee engagement. “Therefore, there is no benefit at all in inviting people to share frequently their views if nothing is going to change as a result. We are talking about two-way communications and interactions, not canned responses. If this doesn’t happen, people will lose trust in the organisation, feel resentment for not being considered, start sharing their complaints outside the company, and will most probably look for a job elsewhere.”

Using videos to capture employee feedback

Where regular employee engagement monitoring becomes the engagement dashboard, pro-active use of video can serve as a channel to directly enhance engagement. Miituu provides a new on-line video recording system that allows managers to record key communications and organisations to record employees’ feedback and responses using webcams and smartphones. According to Miituu’s CEO David High, the system can “enable companies to catch not only written and verbal feedback responses but people’s body language, emotions, thoughts and feelings, increasing the communication cues businesses have access to by 93%.”

The use of video apps to strengthen communications and employee engagement is a relatively new concept. However, as we become more adept at using digital channels at work – not to mention more adept at sharing our thoughts via webcam and smart phone connections – there is greater benefit in seeking easy to use and cost effective ways of improving internal communications. “This is where Miituu comes into its own”, says David, “and the really great thing is that you don’t need any prior video or IT skills to create compelling, influential communication results and content.”

The clearest value of using the Miituu system is in securing open more transparent conversations with people across the entire organisation. It provides colleagues who we may never have never seen or heard from before a voice and a face. The opportunity to share experiences, tell stories and exchange feedback on products, services and customer positions really has power to unite an organisation. Miituu may change the way employees communicate, interact and build relationships dramatically. Think for instance at the major implications and engagement opportunities for collar workers that so far may have had very few opportunities to be really seen.

More engaging ways to communicate

Reinforcing communications and soliciting employees’ feedback this way serves to make communications between head offices, regional centre’s and branch offices more intimate. The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Nationwide Building Society are examples where this has been experienced. In areas spanning regular dialogue on new products, change management initiatives and building experiences for new staff joining the organisation Miituu helped to secure engaged dialogue and enhanced understanding. Managers and staff recorded and shared their own expectations which not only allowed colleagues to see – meaning to understand – each others’ perceptions and feelings on the project, but ultimately helped them to build more solid 2 way communication and vision for their projects.

From an internal communications viewpoint the phenomenon of these modern approaches is quite interesting. We are at an early stage where such tools can start to play a major role in strengthening the measurement methods and engagement practices inside the enterprise. With employees recording themselves in their own time, in their own style and in a way that gives them increased voice and recognition within the organisation, new kinds of measurement and two-way visible communication approaches are knocking inside the organisational walls. Shall we open the communications and engagement door?


This article originally appeared on simply-communicate