How to Rethink Employee Surveys
Anyone can react to change. But it takes someone visionary to create change. Over more than two decades in marketing and communications, Ed Bodensiek has tried to do just that. And as a new channel partner for WorkXO, he’ll help organizations measure and manage their cultures, shifting their perspectives and making big changes along the way.
His varied and interesting career has set him up to truly understand the importance of culture. After a number of leadership positions at universities, educational groups and as a presidential appointee to the federal Department of the Treasury, Bodensiek was tapped in 2011 to be vice president of communications and brand at Select Medical, one of the largest providers of rehabilitative and outpatient care in the U.S. During his six years there, he created a cultural roadmap that is still used today.
He then became the first chief experience officer (CXO) at an Am Law top-200 law firm. Earlier this year, he launched Cravety, a brand-experience firm that combines cultural analytics, change management and design thinking.
Measure Culture, Not Engagement
Bodensiek says that all the employee surveys that are conducted to measure engagement “have been failing us for a lot of reasons.” The main one is that they measure the outcome of an experience rather than drilling deeper and examining the business drivers that are affecting the experience.
Employee engagement surveys ask things like, “Do you have a best friend at work?” — which he says isn’t really a core driver of the employee experience. Leaders also tend to become overly focused on survey scores and how to bring them up, which he likens to “teaching to the test.”
That’s why he was attracted by WorkXO and the Workplace Genome, a groundbreaking culture-management platform. It adds the data-science elements that have been lacking, he says, allowing organizations to go deeper behind the scenes to look at the conditions that cause those outcomes.
When companies are able to see both what goes into and comes out of their cultures, they’re better primed to align them with their missions.
“I'm a big believer in aligning your people with your processes and your place and your product. To me, the sequence has been backward for many years,” Bodensiek says.
“This is a fundamental first step. You want to get really intentional about managing your culture to create a great employee experience, and from that, so many other things are going to follow — including meeting the organization’s key business objectives.”
HR leaders and C-suite executives must set the vision for their culture, then constantly monitor it and make adjustments to ensure it’s not going in the wrong direction. Employee engagement surveys are just a starting point, not an end.
“Let’s learn a whole lot more about what’s behind engagement — changing behaviors, actions and experiences,” he says.
Use Data Science to Remove Guesswork
Until WorkXO came along, Bodensiek says, there was a lot of guesswork involved in measuring and monitoring company culture. He’s excited to apply the methodologies he’s cultivated over 20-plus years using a tool that can “help people change from the inside.”
He talks about teaching people to fish rather than giving them a bunch of fish in the form of employee surveys — which HR leaders admit often aren’t applied in any meaningful way. The best brands in the world are able to offer consistent customer experiences because of the cultures that drive their employee experiences.
“They're making a brand promise, and a brand promise is built on trust. We’re teaching people to understand that, at those places, their culture didn’t just happen by accident. They were designed,” Bodensiek says.