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The book spends some time taking us through why traditional approaches to employee engagement surveys are problematic, or don’t deliver on their promises in reality.  These failings are well known to many HR professionals; the annual approach is too static, results can take too long to get out and not enough is done with the data (or seen to be done).  They are out of date as soon as they are completed.  Traditional surveys disconnect with a world and audience more used to real time information and response through technology and social media, rather than lengthy, rigid opinion surveys.

The book draws on the author’s experience of working with organisations, showing them how they can take a different approach to gaining employee insight, referencing from time to time to other works and thinkers from Sinek to Goleman.

There is little to disagree with in the text.  A need for real time insight and increased transparency, the need to consider feelings, emotions and daily experience, the need to bring technology into the way we communicate with our people, employee involvement – these are all things that organisations should be striving for.  They can indeed lead to better business performance.

Unfortunately, and despite an early disclaimer to the contrary, the book reads like one long advert for the author’s employee engagement survey technology.  Even the title of the book has the same name.  Although the book makes solid points, especially to anyone not fully versed in the subject of engagement surveys, it still feels a little like reading a sales pitch.

Stephens makes the link between the concept of employee engagement and the feelings of individuals.  He goes onto to highlight that we increasingly understand that people don’t just go to work for the money – but this is something we have known this since the days of scientific management.

The book is full of case studies and examples of organisations that have successfully used the Heartbeat engagement assessment product.  Whilst these are interesting, they don’t make for a balanced review of the subject matter, nor a detailed evidence base for his claims.  This is a shame, because the traditional idea of employee engagement surveys is both dated and flawed, and I agree with much that the author has to say.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get passed the sales pitch.

Gemma Dale, Founder, The Work Consultancy – www.theworkconsultancy.com

Published by LID Publishing