#Unfiltered – We Listen, Understand and Act

It seems that employee surveys have been around more than a century and since 1940 became a really common tool in corporate environments. They were usually event-triggered or done in an annual or even bi-annual rhythm. At SAP our annual employee survey has been around since 1999. Wow – it almost made its 20th birthday in 2019, but then: Qualtrics came along. 

We introduced #Unfiltered – Our People Survey, running on Qualtrics. Instead of listening to our employees in an annual fashion, we started the quest to a continuous listening strategy. For 2020 that means, that we will have 2 additional #Unfiltered pulses that help us to understand and act in a more meaningful way as well as asking for insightful feedback at the relevant moments when it happens.

Given the fact that social media has changed our behavior to provide feedback and given the fact that people’s sentiment is varying frequently, measuring on a more continuous basis is important to be effective when acting on the feedback. At SAP, we have our Leadership Trust which is a powerful feedback that leaders take seriously. How much more is this score reflecting our trust in leadership if asked a couple of times throughout the year and then an average of the score is built, than asking once a year? There is no excuse for a leader to change.

Starting with a clean sheet

I have only been with SAP for one year, before I worked as CHRO for Zalando, European’s fashion platform. At Zalando, we introduced Qualtrics to collect feedback from our employees. As a startup, we could think from scratch and had nothing to lose. So, we implemented a very agile continuous listening strategy and asked every 6 weeks, 6 questions. Quickly we realized that we didn’t have the time to understand and act on it, so we changed to quarterly cadence. We tested, we failed, we adjusted and tried again. We had no history nor historical data that would get lost.

When I came to SAP, I was excited to see that there was an appetite for truly re-thinking the way we listen, learn and act. My first instinct was to reduce the number of questions and increase the listening-cycle to a higher frequency. I thought: Let’s just try it out. Qualtrics, being a thought leader in its field, recommended us otherwise. Our colleagues said that they have seen some corporations make the mistake of cancelling their annual survey for something else, lose all the historical data and have big gaps in their data insights. They also said they had rarely seen such a consistency in the insights and the data quality is excellent.

So, we decided to go step-by-step:

First, improve the user experience by using Qualtrics (BTW we got great feedback from mobile and desktop users on the experience this year!), secondly, introduce two additional #Unfiltered pulses that only run for 1-2 weeks and can be filled in within 2-5 minutes. And thirdly, introduce just-in-time feedback directly after the pulses, so that we can understand and act on it quicker.

With this approach, we aim to not only make the user experience better for each employee, have a more continuous way to listen to the organization, but also keep our historical data and insights. At the end, we want to make the company better (not just cooler ;)) and bring meaningful change to the organization.

I hope this blog helps all my corporate colleagues who are re-thinking their listening strategy – ping me if you want to learn more about Qualtrics or #Unfiltered.