In my opinion engagement surveys are not necessary --- “IF”: a) your organization has created a culture where there is on-going formal and informal listening and responding to employee opinions and concerns (last I knew Southwest Airlines did not do formal all employee surveys); b) your business metrics are all excellent. Please remember both the people “related” metrics (recruiting, acceptance rate, attrition, attendance, safety, etc.) and people “enabled” metrics (quality, customer service, cost, innovation, etc.); c) your organization consistently handles change well; and d) leaders truly believe they consistently a getting the maximum commitment, effort, and loyalty from the workforce.
Also, I do not believe measuring and evaluating employee engagement has to consume lots of resources. Survey length can be very short. All data can be captured electronically. Reports can be minimized. Detailed analysis can be replaced with genuine feedback sessions with employees. Organizations are in the driver’s seat and make these choices with their employee opinion strategy. But, effective employee engagement surveys must always include timely feedback, action planning, and execution of the action plan.
Furthermore, there are many informal ways to keep your finger on the employee engagement “pulse”. For example, pay attention to behavior patterns (arriving right at start of shift and leaving exactly at end of shift; physically attending meeting but not paying attention or participating; volunteering; etc.) and watch what they wear and carry (are employees willingly wearing and carrying your logo and brand items?).
Finally, business leaders I know want objective information to help make tough decisions on where to prioritize time, money, and resources. Leaders want to invest where they will make the biggest returns. An effectively designed and executed engagement strategy, survey, and follow-up process can help do just that.