I recently met a very successful entrepreneur and got onto the subject of engagement. He told me that his business was just about to complete its annual engagement survey. Hearing someone talk about their ‘annual employee survey’ always makes me smile – because as far as I’m concerned, there’s no such thing as an annual survey!

Yes, of course, there’s a survey you can run once a year and you can call it an annual survey. However, it’s a bit of a gamble. The reality is that the responses are going to be based, in the main, on the participants’ short-term experiences. Most people can remember what happened last week, last month, last quarter. Ask them to think back 12 months, and they struggle.

Because feedback is largely based on a short time span, it will also be heavily reliant on when you choose to run your ‘annual survey’. All sorts of factors come into play. The time of year, the time of day, the mood they’re in. Issue your survey just before a holiday or during a particularly busy period and you’ll get one type of feedback. Issue that survey after everyone gets back from holiday, and they’re settling back into their routines with energy and you might get another. Run it in the summer when the sun is shining and the sky is blue, or run it in the winter when it’s grey, cold, and miserable outside, and again, it can make a difference. The list goes on…

There are so many factors in our day-to-day lives that affect how we feel at any given moment – so why just seek a ‘once a year’ glimpse into what your employees are thinking – when the results of your annual survey are unlikely to be a real, true reflection of their ongoing experience of working in your organization?

The solution is simple. Seek appropriate feedback every ninety days. Right from the start of Engagement Multiplier, it’s one of the things we’re most passionate about. Ninety days is a reasonable time frame to think back and it’s a great time window for planning forward. It’s far enough away that we don’t feel like it’s too far in the distance, but it’s also enough time to make meaningful progress.

The results of seeking feedback four times a year generate considerably more valuable, accurate insight into how your employees feel. Their ideas, concerns, and areas of greatest motivation will be timely. It’s so much more effective than taking pot-luck on a once-a-year survey. Forming an employee engagement committee can help you identify themes and turn this frequent employee feedback from ideas into executions.

With something as important as employee engagement, you shouldn’t leave it to chance or the weather gods.

Transferable Insight: Annual surveys don’t cut it. Gathering employee feedback every 90 days will provide you with regular check-points throughout the year to take corrective action where things aren’t working and amplify the things that are. In the process, you’ll likely save time and money on avoiding costly mistakes – and importantly save it by implementing great ideas every quarter – why wait a whole year! It also provides you with the ability to create and maintain momentum – a regular streak of quick wins and an ongoing visible commitment to engagement is far more impactful than a once-a-year flurry of excitement and expectation that’s quickly forgotten. To deepen the impact of gathering feedback every 90 days, remember to always share survey results with your team.

There are so many things to consider when measuring employee engagement. Take a closer look at Engagement Multiplier’s employee engagement survey questions to understand how to ask the right questions, not just when to ask for feedback.