For the past twenty years employee opinion surveys have  been going through a steady evolution.
First there were satisfaction surveys, which today have evolved into engagement surveys. It’s a necessary metric in the classical HR dashboard, but usually it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to. Engagement surveys give us a multitude of numbers for different departments, business units, etc. But most of the time you’ll see that the results don’t really differ, or worse, don’t really matter.
A reason for this is the top-down approach embedded in HR. Existing solutions and processes are often used to control problems.


Synthetron does it differently

This is where Synthetron works in a different way. Starting from past results, we set up meaningful discussions guided bottom-up by the employees themselves. Through an intelligent online  tool that enables large groups of people (> 1000) to partake in simultaneous real-time dialogue, it becomes possible to explore  solutions to problems, search for common ground and reflect on the current situation.

The methodology is based on the concept of ‘the wisdom of crowds’ by J. Surowiecki. The beauty of this is that every individual participant is talking to and exchanging ideas with a small group of people. This makes the whole conversation more manageable. The software then makes sure that this small group of people is connected to the larger group.

Case: FMCG

A multinational FMCG was having trouble with the results of their engagement survey, which showed an apparent unhappiness with growth opportunities (even though there was a ‘corporate university’) and a whole slew of low scores that were hard to interpret or even connect.

The functional manager asked to set up a discussion with the whole (worldwide) development department  in which the role of the employee, organization and manager were discussed. The discussion resulted immediately in a list of ideas that were supported by the whole group. Also some old hypotheses  that had been posited time and time again after each engagement survey were disproved, e.g.: ‘unhappy with the development opportunities’, ‘not knowing the corporate university’.

The discussion showed how people knew about such opportunities and wanted to take advantage of  them, but were unable to because of the constant high work pressure (and changes). They felt like they never had the time. In other words: the development trajectories were viewed as something theoretical, and not something people could actually do.

Now what did this discussion yield?

  • First of all a clear and open gesture of appreciation towards the team and the whole department in its professionalism, drive and goals.
  • The insight that a new information campaign wouldn’t improve the engagement survey results.
  • The insight that employees want to be involved and can do more than complain
  • A list of clear changes in working conditions, new instruments, etc. to work better remotely
  • And finally, and most importantly: an open and honest dialogue between management and employees on ‘our ways of working’.


Synthetron enables  organisations to “listen in a clever way”

The above case is representative for the advantages Synthetron offers as an online discussion method.

  • The employees are really heard and experience this. It’s not just a meeting, it’s more of an intervention.
  • The engagement of the employees increases significantly
  • It generates a solution provided by the employees

In short: a Synthetron discussion is a process in which an organisation cleverly listens to its employees and helps them think ahead, beyond the engagement survey results

by Jan Camelbeek

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