A successful employee engagement survey can be difficult to achieve. Sometimes it seems a success to get the survey questions signed off by key sponsors, or to release the results out to managers. While these are milestones in a successful project, they aren’t sufficient achievements on their own. Surveys that deliver reports without action are likely to be viewed as failures by employees and are linked to lower employee engagement.
To measure whether your survey is a success, consider the following factors:
- Employee Involvement
- Did you achieve high response rates when the survey was distributed?
- To what extent did employees participate in feedback and action planning sessions?
- Leadership of Feedback Sessions
- What percentage of leaders and managers conduct a feedback session with their divisions/teams to discuss survey results?
- Action Plans
- What proportion of business units create action plans to deal with survey issues or to build on strengths?
- Organisational Change
- To what extent has the survey helped to drive change?
These changes could include adjustment of strategic plans, implementation of improved work processes and practices, achievement of organisational KPIs (e.g. reduction in employee turnover), or improved employee satisfaction.
12 Steps For A Successful Survey
We have found the following 12 steps have helped our clients to achieve successful employee engagement surveys. We hope that these can help you with your next survey.
- Investigate past survey experience. Previous action or inaction can have a significant influence on employees’ willingness to complete an engagement survey. Find out your organisation’s track record with internal surveys (engagement or other types).
- Clarify the purpose. Having a clear understanding of the survey purpose will help you to tailor the survey content and to craft focused communications. How will the survey fit with your strategic plans? Is the survey primarily being used to assess staff satisfaction and gain benchmarking information? Does the survey need to seek feedback from employees about specific initiatives?
- Consult and involve stakeholders. Consulting with a broad range of stakeholders will help improve your survey design and implementation plan. In addition, you are likely to build a support base of leaders, managers and employees that will help ‘sell’ the benefits of completing the survey.
- Communicate widely and frequently. Survey communication has a very strong impact on response rates. Effective communication creates awareness and excitement about the survey, and also builds trust in the survey process. We recommend communicating widely by using at least four different methods for flagging the survey with employees, including a message/endorsement from a senior sponsor. Communication should occur frequently – particularly while the survey is live, as this helps maximise response rates.
- Make the survey easy to access and complete. Most organisations use online surveys as employees can complete these easily on PCs or smart phones. However, you may also need to use paper surveys or translated surveys to ensure that the process is inclusive for all employees.
- Create a buzz. Creating a survey brand can help attract attention to the survey in all phases of the survey project – from pre-communication to implementing action plans. Another way to create a buzz, is by using a prize draw to reward and incentivise employees to complete the survey.
- Feedback results as soon as possible. Feedback sessions should be scheduled as soon as possible after receiving results and cascaded top-down through the organisation starting with senior management. While user-friendly reports are a must, HR should also be available to support line managers to understand results and to plan their feedback sessions with staff.
- Ask questions to better understand issues. Asking questions and listening are the key to understanding the contextual issues contributing to survey results. Typically line managers lead work area discussions to explore results and to gain details and specific examples of issues.
- Prioritise up to three issues. Explicitly agree on the criteria you will use for selecting priorities. Use these criteria to select up to three priorities at the organisational or work-area level. It is better to do a few things well, than spread your efforts too thinly.
- Plan actions. Work with your team to define issues, investigate the cause of problems, create solutions and agree the way forward. Ensure that a plan is created that specifies what will happen, by whom and when.
- Implement and monitor plans. Ensure that the individual accountabilities for implementing plans are clear. In addition, regularly reporting progress to senior management will help ensure progress (or lack of progress) has visibility. This will enable remedial action to be taken if needed.
- Communicate actions and progress. Sometimes significant changes can be achieved after a survey and hardly anyone in the organisation knows about them. If employees are not aware of the achieved changes, they view the survey as ineffective. Be explicit about the link between the survey feedback and the actions that are being undertaken and the progress achieved (e.g., “You said this in the survey, and this is the action that we have taken as a result”).
Maximising Response Rates
Communicating Survey Feedback
Action Planning & Follow Up
There are other great things you can do, and I’m looking forwarding to hearing what have you found useful for delivering a successful employee survey. Please comment below.