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Understanding Employee Engagement and Trust: The New Math of Engagement Surveys

Summary: The largely unknown secret of employee engagement surveys is that their interpretation is largely pseudoscience. Too often, the marketing objective of telling and selling a good story is placed above the practical and ethical objective of telling the truth. Three methods dominate this "economisting" (making exaggerated claims and conclusions based on limited evidence): 1) Using questionable claims of statistical significance to identify important findings; 2) building regression models of employee engagement that are composed of cherry-picked engagement drivers, ensuring that employees are held accountable for the failings of executives; and 3) using benchmark rankings that yield claims of being one of the best companies to work for. An additional problem is the pretense that employee engagement can be reduced to a single meaningful number. The article suggests several approaches for useful employee engagement research.

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  • Topics: Human Resources
  • Keywords: Surveys, Employee involvement (EI), Employee morale, Employee retention, Employee satisfaction, Regression analysis, Benchmarking,
  • Author: Gerst, Robert
  • Journal: Journal for Quality and Participation