4 Lessons from Steptember for Survey Success

Sometimes work can feel a bit like putting one foot in front of the other – in September though it was a matter of literally putting one foot in front of another as Voice Project participated in Steptember for the second time to raise funds and awareness for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance. Looking back at the last two Steptember events Voice Project has participated in, I’ve learned first-hand some practical lessons we often share with our clients about building a positive work environment and a healthier and more engaged workforce.

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it

Prior to starting Steptember, I actually had no idea how many steps I did on an average day. My own biases told me that I probably did more steps than most, but I had no idea. It was only when I actually saw my stepping and health data after a few days that I realised I needed to better prioritise physical activity in my life.

This is a perfect example of why we need a valid and reliable way of understanding employees’ opinions and perceptions before we can take meaningful steps towards addressing the issues they face. Or, put more plainly, if you’re not basing your actions on evidence you’re likely wasting time and money. Organisations are generally very good at collecting and using data to make important business decisions, but this often doesn’t extend to making data-driven decisions about the most important aspect of their organisation – their people.

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition

There’s nothing like a bit of healthy competition to motivate people and help teams and individuals connect. We had enough people for 3 teams this year which appealed to the competitive spirit of our director certain members of the team. Many in our team stepped far more than they otherwise would have just to take the leaders spot, and there was some great sledging encouragement between teams.

We recommend the use of team competitions and prizes to encourage people to participate in surveys and become involved in follow up efforts and initiatives. Healthy competition can also help improve cooperation and communication between business units. So long as it’s respectful, inclusive to all, and in the spirit of a healthy workplace culture, competition can be an effective tool to get people onboard.

Focusing your efforts can have a broad impact

After focusing on something as important as physical activity for a month, it was evident that it wasn’t just my physical health that improved - there was a flow on effect to many other areas in my life. Steptember also prompted me to:
  • interact more with other steppers (which often served to improve my work as we often chatted about work problems and experiences)
  • wear more comfortable shoes to work so I could do extra steps (which I didn’t realise would have such a big impact all around, and make my life much more comfortable and relaxed)
  • walk my dog Duke more and tire him out (which made him happier and healthier, and likely prevented him chewing many pairs of said shoes…) - the list goes on.
Focusing on improving high priority work practices will often improve staff perceptions of other things at work. Communication and consultation from leaders and cross-unit cooperation, for example, are commonly raised by staff as key priorities following a survey. When these improve, we often see results on a variety of other work practices jump up too. So what’s the take away? Having a specific focus can have a big general impact if you focus on the right things.

It starts at the top

Our director was one of the first to put his hand up for Steptember, and many others did not take long to follow suit. He also sent regular taunts communications to all of the teams throughout the month, which was a signal to everyone that participation was encouraged and valued. This reflects another key piece of advice we often give our clients – for staff to be on board the leadership has to be on board. Active role modelling and communication from the top means there’s no doubt in terms of what’s encouraged and expected of staff. With surveys, it’s also important that the encouragement to participate comes from the top as it shows that the effort is backed by leadership.

So happy surveying! Get in touch with one of our team to receive a copy of either our pre survey or post survey toolkit to help set your organisation up for survey success.