Improving Employee Engagement By Tracking Changing Perspectives

Way Off The Beaten Path

We’re all well aware of SurveyMonkey’s enormous contribution to understanding people better.

And yet, we at CakeHR have always felt that the use of professional data through their resources by other organizations was missing one crucial overlap – the perspective of employees as people in their own right with differing tastes and preferences, and not just as vital professional resources for an organization.

If that statement is a bit confusing, then let’s back up a little.

SurveyMonkey has extensive data available on the needs and ambitions of New Age employees, chief among them being the millennials, who are estimated to become the majority workforce by 2020.

However, it would be grossly erroneous to assume that the changing needs of the workforce under the millennials, spurred as they are in part due to the dizzying integration of technology in modern life, are limited to their generation alone.

In fact, inspired by several examples from SurveyMonkey, we attempted to quantitatively establish this by surveying 200 randomly chosen potential hires of varying ages for differing positions across the organizational spectrum.

Since we are as yet a growing firm, though the product of a larger established organization, we had plenty of opportunities to survey professional men and women aged between 21 and 50 – and the results were quite enlightening.

The New Age Professional

Roughly 59% of professionals aged 37 to 50 considered work-life balance as “extremely important”, and 74% of this group acknowledged that “work-life balance was unimportant to them in the first 30 years of their life”.

While 52% of these professionals admitted that “Friends and family are the pivotal factor that changed their opinion”, another 43% cited “Because technology now allows better work-life balance to be possible” as the reason.

59% of professionals aged 37 to 50 considered work-life balance as “extremely important”

Furthermore, 66% of interviewees between 37 to 50 admitted that they would not mind more technological fun at the workplace for a relaxed atmosphere “as long as it would not affect financial bonuses and other additive perks in the least, nor affect professionalism in the workplace”.

Another 23% in this group wouldn’t mind “innovative bonuses for fun at the workplace if they replaced minor bonuses, but would not affect major perks”.

Friends and family are the pivotal factor that changed their opinion

To supply context, under innovative bonuses, we had specified replacing smaller cash bonus amounts and holiday gifts under a threshold value of £165 with gifts of innovative tech gadgets, single and multi-user subscriptions to their favorite TV streaming sites, etc.

Similarly, under the idea of “fun”, we mentioned brainstorming in rooms with gym equipment so that the resulting endorphins from exercising would promote creative thought.

Or even holding meetings Dungeons&Dragons role-playing style, where each problem discussed on the agenda would be represented by a “monster”, and the attendant “adventurers” would have to attack with ideas to vanquish them.

Workplaces are no longer a bastion of stuffy professionalism

Moreover, within the “millennial” group aged 21 to 36, 23% of respondents identified work-life balance as “extremely important”.

This is quite similar to the roughly 17% of millennials who identified with the same, according to this article on SurveyMonkey.

Which brings us to an important conclusion – the workplace is no longer a bastion of stuffy professionalism.

Instead, as long as it doesn’t affect their pay or the company’s credibility, employees of all ages are increasingly amenable to the idea of more creative “fun” at the workplace.

They are more aware of the importance of work-life balance, but don’t draw the line of “life” outside their workplace either.

They aren’t averse to using fun methods to spruce up parts of business, such as long dry meetings, to help them get “more interested and thus intellectually involved in the process”.

The older workforce is increasingly more amenable to their employers changing up the workplace

Furthermore, while millennials seem to move away from a job where they don’t feel challenged or mentally invested, the older generations are still averse from doing so.

However, the older workforce is increasingly more amenable to their employers changing up the workplace so that these employees no longer have to feel as if they are just duty-bound to perform their roles.

They want to feel a deeper sense of connection and excitement through their roles at their workplace.

64% of our respondents aged between 37 and 50 confirmed that they felt “slightly envious” of the fun-filled, “work is play” accounts which regularly find their way out of the offices of tech giants such as Google.

Another 54% of this group admitted that they would be “far more likely to pick a company with a fun work culture than one without, if their pay, job scope, perks, and other contractual details remain equal or within 5% of other offers at a maximum”.Employee Engagement

So, now that we’ve managed to convey a rough bird’s eye view to the changing priorities of the workforce, let’s dive into how we at CakeHR attempted to use this information to increase employee engagement.

Given the limitations of an online article in terms of length, we will discuss the overarching implications of some of the changes in the following sections.

Resulting Changes To Our Organization

1# Dungeons & Dragons Meetings

This was particularly surprising for us, but 72% of respondents to a questionnaire circulated between existent employees and potential hires aged between 21 to 50 were amenable to using a D&D role-playing format to conduct our weekly scheduled brainstorming and update sessions, 43% of whom were aged between 37 to 50 as well.

The conditional provision was that the “meeting take no longer than the regularly scheduled 2 and a half hours set aside for this purpose, and that it manage to encompass all problems and items of agenda to be discussed during this session”.

Employee Engagement

So far, we’ve used this method – with extreme modifications to the gameplay – for roughly four months, without failing the conditional provision even once.

Furthermore, through a feedback form, roughly 76% of attendants admitted that they performed “better under this format because it helps us think outside the box” (6% disagreed).

2# Better Personalized Gifts & Bonuses

Through surveys, we also managed to track better ways of inducing employee loyalty by personalizing gifting and bonuses to certain extents.

We celebrated our company’s anniversary in June.

And so, inspired by this article from SurveyMonkey, we gave all working moms in our organization, with children under the age of 3, the option of greater flexibility in their work hours.

To turn this into a practical solution, we re-assigned working moms to uniformly distribute them across several teams, provided measures to help them work better from home, and further allowed them the option of swapping working hours with other team members upon the consent of both employees.

For others yet, the gifts – as determined by their questionnaires – ranged from subscriptions to NetFlix and LootCrate to babysitters from vetted services paid in advance up to set number of hours (claimable at any point in the year), upto threshold values as determined by gifts and bonuses for their rank within that year.

The Final Message: Use Surveys To Get Far Off The Beaten Path

Our organization has seen several other changes as a result of the surveys we undertook, after being inspired by the impact of SurveyMonkey upon the professional world.

Some of them include a roulette to determine meeting lunches (accounting for dietary restrictions and allergies, of course), and a shift of non-work-related workplace communication for interns to Twitter’s private direct messages during off-site communication.

Others even include using these surveys to improve on Secret Santa gifting for the holiday seasons.

Most of these changes are possible mainly because our organization is as yet small in size

Now – before anyone else says so – I already know what you’re thinking, and I agree. Most of these changes are possible mainly because our organization is as yet small in size.

It’s quite probable that, with time and extensive growth, many such measures will become untenable to keep up, and so we’ll change again.

But, even when we do change, we will use surveys once again to figure out an actionable path while keeping with the wishes of our employees.

Because an organization is only as good as the skill and talent which it can attract, maintain, and nurture.

Without human resources who are willing to sacrifice their personal time in your favor, any new company is dead in the water even before it takes off in today’s hyper-competitive atmosphere.

Furthermore, there are over 28 million small businesses in US, and SMEs account for 99% of all businesses in the EU, thus representing a significant portion of professional ventures carried out in these geographical areas.

While small and medium enterprises such as ours may not be able to compete with larger firms head-on in terms of remuneration to attract skilled employees, one advantage which we do have is the ability to personalize employee working experience through questionnaires and surveys.

And so, I leave you with this thought.

If SMEs are to compete with global giants, we need to use our biggest liability – small size – and turn it into our greatest strength (flexibility and adaptability) in order to appeal to future waves of employees.

And the only way we can have the necessary tools to achieve that is by adopting surveys and creatively deploying them to better understand exactly what a dream workplace would look like to a New-Age employee.


Written By

Kaspars Upmanis

SaaS freak, CEO & Co-founder @cakehr