According to SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management), “employee engagement surveys measure employees’ commitment, motivation, sense of purpose and passion for their work and organization.”
A carefully designed and conducted employee survey can reveal a great deal of information about employee perceptions that management can use to improve the workplace. Organization responsiveness to employee feedback leads to higher retention rates, lower absenteeism, improved productivity, better customer experience, and higher employee morale. The simple fact that the organization is conducting a survey can send a positive message to employees that their opinions are valued. In addition, managers can gain insights into issues affecting their departments or business units that allow them to manage more effectively. Conversely, if the senior management team is not fully committed and ready to really listen to and, most importantly, act on what employees are saying, then conducting a survey can falsely raise expectations among employees, leading to an employee relations disaster.
Congratulations! You have completed your employee engagement survey and now what?
First, use the percentage of responses as your initial matrix for measurement. If, on your first survey, 78% of employees responded but, a year later, only 62% respond, ask yourself what that is telling you.
When responding to results, it’s tempting to immediately dive into making changes—after all, you didn’t run the survey just for fun, and you want employees to know that you hear them and value their input. However, if you jump into making changes without deeply understanding what the results of your employee engagement survey are telling you, you risk creating as many new problems as you fix.
It’s important to approach this with the same thoughtful mindset you’d use when developing your company’s next quarterly financial plan. By following eight simple steps, you can ensure that you get the most value out of your survey results, and that the changes you implement based on those results address the issues your employees have brought to your attention.
1. Review Results
When employee engagement survey results become available, the first step is to share them with your executive team. When you sort results and drill down into team data and experience by demographic, executives can learn things like which groups are having an inconsistent experience with impartiality and equity. When you take this more granular look at data, executives get a clearer picture of what employees are telling them.
Leaders must take time to review and internalize feedback before they jump into action. .
3. Align & Set Intentions
Once leaders have had time for reflection, the executive team should meet again to discuss the data and how they plan to proceed. Ideally, executives communicated with employees about the survey before sending it out, so employees understand the purpose and expected outcomes of the process.It’s easier to maximize the full value of the employee engagement survey results when executives share a clear understanding of what their ideal company culture is and where the gaps are.
4. Provide Transparent Communication
Your organization’s initial reaction to the survey sets the tone for how you go about taking action. Many of the lists of the ‘best companies to work for’ roll out survey-driven changes using a cascaded approach. This process often begins with an organization-wide communication from the CEO that might share high-level results, thank employees for their participation, and commit to taking action.Next, leaders at all levels take the opportunity to discuss results transparently with their teams, ideally in a way that shares more relevant details about organizational and departmental level results and allows for an open dialogue to begin.
5. Conduct a listening tour
Leaders at all levels can conduct listening tours with employees in order to gain more specific insight to make meaningful improvement throughout the organization. Whether leaders choose to do this with informal brown-bag lunches or more formal meetings, documenting the meetings and letting employees know how leaders will be following up ensures they understand what comes next and shows them how important this process is to you.
6. Target Areas for Improvement & Establish Specific Plans
It’s often best to target one or two areas of focus to make lasting improvements. Often, one area is identified as an organization-wide focus with the second area specifically relating to department/leader level results. The best strategies focus on how management is leading.
7. Execute No, I am not referring to a firing squad!
Now, it’s time for your patient, methodical approach to employee engagement surveys to pay off. Roll out your people practices and programs.
You’ve taken a data-driven approach and infused it with employee input throughout the process. Feels good, doesn’t it?
8. Evaluate Progress
To demonstrate your commitment to taking meaningful action, and to make sure that your changes are having desired effects, continue to communicate with your employees.
Engaged employees are the foundation of successful companies. If employees aren’t engaged with their work, then they’re less likely to make the impact that their managers hope for and even more less likely to influence the customer experience. When employees are engaged, they’re brand ambassadors, customer satisfaction gurus, and they even take fewer sick days. Engaged employees are the backbone of successful businesses.