Understanding the pulse of employees and the corporate climate within an organization is more important in today’s volatile business environment than ever before. Organizations use surveys, focus groups, and consultants to capture employee’s sentiment so they can manage risk and optimize performance. However, despite spending billions, organizations struggle to gain real insight into the attitudes and perceptions of their employees.

Research shows that organizations invest approximately $720 million annually on surveys and polls, which are either outsourced or developed internally. In 2022, U.S. companies will spend over $1 billion on employee surveys and over $100 billion on training and engagement programs. Customized surveys typically cost around $100,000 each and substantially more depending on the size of the company and complexity of the survey. For example, with close to a million world-wide employees, Walmart will likely spend over a million dollars this year on employee surveys.

Despite this massive investment, companies fail to identify and accurately measure the perceptions, sentiment, and grievances of their employees. Only 22% of companies obtain meaningful results from their employee engagement surveys and engagement rates are typically low—around 34 percent. Not to mention surveys are just a snapshot in time, time-consuming for employees, and are sometimes viewed as meaningless. Research shows that 63% of employees felt their voices were ignored by their manager or employer and 40% don’t feel their feedback leads to actionable change. What’s more, many factors can affect a survey’s results, including the quality of the questions, the respondents’ mood, and even events on the day of the survey.

There are, however, more effective ways for companies and executives to understand the pulse of employees. Social Listening tools are a viable alternative that deliver unique insights into employee’s attitudes and behavior. Access to information—beyond traditional surveys or anecdotal interviews—has increased significantly. Studies reveal that up to 87% of companies monitor employee email, however, it is usually done to check for inappropriate content via scanning software. Surprisingly, 77% of employees say it is acceptable for companies to monitor employees’ work-related email and most companies let employees know what they are monitoring. And like surveys, Social Listening tools gather information from email without identifying the authors, because it is only necessary to collect content from key words and phrases.

ENODO’s customized data analytics platforms collect near real-time information from electronic communications such as Slack messages, Glassdoor reviews, chat rooms, and internal and external communications. The Python language-based platform uses Machine Learning, Natural-language processing, and Topic Modeling software to interpret the conversations of employees and make sense of subjective topics. ENODO’s data analytics platforms are far more accurate than opinions from employee surveys or summarizing trends from polls and performance-appraisals, and at a fraction of the cost.

Social Listening fills the gap left by surveys. It enables organizations to capture accurate information on their employees’ values, grievances, and identity. Social Listening also identifies underlying problems and provides understanding of corporate culture and engagement programs that can’t be obtained from a surveys. Seeing firsthand the challenges faced by individuals within an organization takes the guesswork out of decision-making.