- Great questions can provide a guide to a team’s future success
- To date, the Q12 has been administered to 57 million employees in 212 countries
- New items cover DEI, wellbeing, performance management, customer retention
The great management thinker W. Edwards Deming said, “If you do not know how to ask the right question, you discover nothing.” Perfectly worded questions create a reliable benchmark for where you are today and where you want to be in the future.
Deming's words are truer now than ever, as organizations struggle to understand where their workplaces are today and where they’re headed in a future that will be completely transformed by the pandemic and its aftershock. Asking employees the right questions to discover their motivations and preferences in the new world of hybrid and remote work may determine whether organizations thrive or even survive.
Perfectly worded questions create a reliable benchmark for where you are today and where you want to be in the future.
Gallup has long understood the importance of asking employees the right questions. A quarter century ago, after testing hundreds of workplace survey items, Gallup found that if we knew how a team of employees in any organization, industry or geography responded to 12 highly tested items, we knew how they would answer virtually anything else we could ask them about their work culture. And we could predict the performance of their team, the value they bring to customers and how many team members would still be with the team a year later.
These items are known as the Q12, and thousands of big, medium and small organizations around the world use them. They’ve currently been administered to 57 million employees in 212 countries and territories across more than 8,000 companies and 9.5 million business units and teams. The Q12 has been subjected to 10 iterations of meta-analysis across wide economic fluctuations, with several of them published in top academic journals. Each one of these survey items is as highly relevant as ever -- they represent basic human needs at work.
The Q12 database is the only one of its kind, where a manager from any team in any industry and nearly any country can compare themselves to similar teams. The variance in employee engagement is greatest across manager-led teams in any organization -- greater than the variance across companies. Gallup has found that an organization’s culture flows through its managers: 70% of the variance in team engagement is attributable to the manager.
Yet even with the comprehensiveness and predictive power of the Q12, Gallup recently saw the need to create a reengineered dashboard for the post-pandemic hybrid and remote workplace that aligns with how people work and live today. We call it Q12+ -- now 16 actionable survey items plus your highly individualized, client-specific questions. The four new items are Gallup’s single best in each of four highly important categories that Gallup has been studying closely as workplaces have evolved.
1. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Respect is the most basic human requirement at work. Disrespect is toxic. Gallup found that respect is fundamental to making diversity, equity and inclusion efforts work. Every employee in your organization should be able to strongly agree with this statement: At work, I am treated with respect.
- Of those who disagree or strongly disagree that they are treated with respect, 90% claim some form of discrimination or harassment.
- Those who strongly agree that they are treated with respect are less likely to report discrimination or harassment. For every 1,000 employees, disrespect can cost $1.6 million to $2 million in discrimination and harassment settlements or losses if legal action is taken.
- Those who strongly agree that they are treated with respect are nearly half as likely as those who do not feel respected to be actively looking for another job or watching for opportunities.
- The employee engagement elements of opinions counting and feeling cared about as a person are also key drivers of respect.
2. Burnout and Mental Health
Before the pandemic, millennial and Generation Z workers expected their employers to improve their overall lives and wellbeing, not just provide a job. This expectation has intensified since the pandemic. However, organizations are failing to meet this expectation. Every single employee should be able to strongly agree with this statement: My organization cares about my overall wellbeing.
- Those who strongly agree that their organization cares about their overall wellbeing are 71% less likely to report experiencing burnout “very often” or “always.”
- Those who strongly agree that their organization cares about their overall wellbeing are 36% more likely to be thriving in their overall lives.
- The employee engagement elements of opinions counting, feeling cared about as a person, and feeling connected to the mission or purpose of the organization also drive perceptions of feeling the organization cares about their wellbeing.
3. Coaching Habit
The most important manager habit for leading the new hybrid and remote workforce is having a meaningful conversation with each employee once a week. Every employee in your organization should be able to strongly agree with this statement: I have received meaningful feedback in the last week.
Providing meaningful feedback is the single most important leadership activity for developing high-performance relationships. Therefore, the above item is the ultimate measure of manager effectiveness.
- Just 16% of employees say the last conversation with their manager was extremely meaningful.
- Eight in 10 employees who report receiving meaningful feedback in the past week are engaged -- nearly four times the global average.
What factors make a conversation meaningful?
- Recognition or appreciation for recent work
- Collaboration and relationships
- Current goals and priorities at work
- Employee strengths or the things they do well
Meaningful conversations can be as short as 15 to 30 minutes if they happen every week.
Gallup has conducted a meta-analysis of customer perceptions that predict customer retention and business growth. The employee survey item most highly correlated with customer retention is: My organization always delivers on the promise we make to customers.
- Only one in four employees strongly agree that their organization always delivers on the promise they make to their customers.
- Regardless of work location, younger employees (those younger than 35) are decreasingly likely to strongly agree that they’re extremely proud of the quality of products and services their organization offers. These workers are also less likely to feel great responsibility for the quality of their organization’s products and services.
- The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) developed at the University of Michigan has been reporting steep declines in recent years.
- The employee engagement elements of having the right materials and equipment, having fellow employees committed to quality, having opportunities to do what they do best, and feeling connected to the mission or purpose of the organization are also key drivers of employees saying their organization always delivers on the promise it makes to customers.
Q12+ is an updated dashboard combining time-tested insights with essential new ones that align with current and future workforce needs. The workforce is more diverse than ever, so inclusion and equity are foundational requirements. Global stress, burnout and poor mental health are areas of high risk for workplaces -- wellbeing has never been more important.
With massive increases in hybrid work, performance management is as challenging as ever, and the role of the manager has never been more critical. Managers need to be in close touch with each person they manage, many of whom they may not see in person regularly. Customer retention is also at high risk. Organizations need a dashboard that tracks progress on all four of these highly important aspects of workplace culture.
If your unique culture requires customized survey items that reflect additional values, Gallup can help you design your own set of questions that fit into your Q12+.