13 October 2018
Another one of those employee happiness reports is out. This kind of thing always makes me wonder: what are these numbers really measuring?
It seems like happiness ratings by employees would depend on:
expected cost of retaliation for low scores
expected benefit of management response to low scores
The expected cost of retaliation is the probability that an employee's ratings will be exposed to management, multiplied by the negative impact that the employee will suffer in the event of disclosure. An employee who believes that the survey's security has problems, that management will retaliate severely in the event of disclosure, or both, is likely to assign high scores to management.
Some employers make changes in compensation or
working conditions when they fail to achieve well on
employee engagement) surveys. If
an employee believes that management is likely to
make changes, then the employee is likely to assign
low scores in areas where improvement would have
the greatest impact. An employee might choose to
vote honestly except in a specific area where they
believe improvement is possible.
evil company where management makes an
effort to de-anonymize the happiness survey results,
retaliates against employees who give low scores,
and will not make changes to improve scores, will
appear to have high employee happiness.
good company where management does not
retaliate, and will make changes in response to low
scores, will appear to have low employee happiness.
Of course, this all changes the more that people figure out that getting low happiness scores means that you have responsive management.