(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by Readex Research, which provides expert survey services to help businesses understand their internal and external customers. Their services include employee experience surveys. Enjoy the post!)
Let’s say your organization has conducted your employee engagement survey. You’ve used the principles of survey research to design the survey. The survey was implemented well and received high participation.
Now, employees will expect to hear something about the results.
I’ve always said that the absolute worst thing companies can do is ask employees for their thoughts and then do nothing with the information. The whole purpose of a survey is to take action.
- Action demonstrates that the company is listening to employees.
- It shows that the company is open to new ideas from every level of the organization.
- Taking action creates employee engagement.
- Trust builds between employees and the company when action is taken.
Just to be clear, taking action doesn’t mean that organizations have to say “yes” to every suggestion. But it also doesn’t mean you can say “no” either. Once the employee engagement survey results are in, organizations have three action steps:
Step 1 – Digest the information
It’s very easy to get consumed by the wealth of information provided in surveys. Organizations need to be careful they don’t fall into the trap of analysis paralysis. It’s important to be mindful of the things you learn that need to be changed/improved. We can have built-in biases and skepticism of overall survey results that lean in a bad or negative direction.
I asked Readex CEO Jack Semler if there’s a formula for digesting survey information. “Digesting survey results is kind of like writing a paper. You write and write, put the paper down, and the next time you pick it up you invariably find something to change or a new idea. Well, it’s the same thing when you are reviewing survey results. The second and even third time around there are new ideas that pop up or you see what you saw before in a different way. There’s nothing wrong with taking time to digest and reflect.”
Equally as important is not spending enough time processing the responses. Don’t let initial reactions drive your process. Review the results, then put them down for a while, and review them again. Semler says there’s no overarching rule of thumb on how much time to allocate. “It could depend on the length of the survey (how much info there is) and any deadlines from other stakeholders on reporting. I would say two to three reviews is typically sufficient to gain clarity.”
Step 2 – Communicate the results
After HR has processed the survey results internally, share information with key executives first, before sharing with the entire workforce. The group can then decide on how and how much of the results will be shared with the employees in advance. If specific feedback needs to be shared with an individual, schedule a one-on-one meeting to deliver the results. It shows that the company values the feedback as well as the person it’s being given to.
When it comes time to present the results to employees, think about the best way to conduct this meeting. It shouldn’t be like the weekly staff meeting. Conveying employee survey results is different and, dare I say, special.
I once worked for a company that did something unique for employee survey meetings that worked well. We called it a “max-mix” meeting because it provided maximum participation by a mixture of people. Here’s the meeting agenda:
The senior management team delivered an overview of the company results. Speaking of presenting results to employees, consider the use of graphs, charts, and other visuals to show results. Data tables and numbers aren’t always as presentation-friendly. For some creative inspiration in designing visuals, check out the TEDx talk “How to Avoid Death by PowerPoint”.
Then, employees worked in groups to develop questions for the senior management team. Each team designated a spokesperson to ask the question. Senior management didn’t know who initiated the question. And the spokesperson was typically someone who was comfortable speaking in front of groups.
For any questions that there wasn’t enough time for, were put on index cards. HR was responsible for getting the answers and posting the responses in writing for all employees to view.
Step 3 – Make decisions using the results
After holding the all-employee meeting, let employees know how and when action items from the survey will be addressed. It’s realistic to think that some suggestions can and will be implemented right away, others might need further research, and some will not be feasible for a variety of reasons.
Senior management will want to decide how employees will learn when survey suggestions have been implemented or are under consideration (i.e. company email, employee newsletter, on the website, or multiple channels). They will also want to decide how to communicate when suggestions will not be considered (i.e. department meetings, employee town halls, or possibly one-on-one conversations.)
Last and certainly not least, HR and senior management need to thank employees for their participation and communicate details for future surveys. If employees feel their feedback was openly accepted, carefully considered, and acted upon, they will continue to offer feedback.
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Employee Engagement is Good for Business
I’d like to think that I don’t have to convince anyone that employee disengagement is bad for business. We’ve all seen the Gallup report stating that actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. $550 billion annually in lost productivity.
Organizations must address employee engagement and take steps to improve it. But instead of guessing about what to do, survey employees and find out what they’re thinking. Then do something.
Readex has created a series of white papers to help with your employee engagement survey design and implementation. You might want to bookmark these links for future reference:15