3.10.2013

Four Communication Tips for Successful Employee Surveys

communication communication

There is a lot of talk about survey fatigue in the employee engagement sphere but what we often see more of is lack of action fatigue. Generally, a good short survey will take 5-10 minutes to complete and companies will only ask for responses maybe 3-4 times year at most. That's half an hour in total. We ask for feedback from every person who completes a Culture Amp survey and most of the negative comments are not about the survey experience but about the perceived inaction based on the survey results.

So, how do we change this? The first thing to do is to try and take some action immediately after the survey, and we've written about this previously. But there are a few tactics specific to how communication about the survey that can also help avoid some of the key problems we often see even when companies do try to act quickly.

1. Link Any Actions to Results (all the time)

Don't forget to always and consistently, even persistently, mention that the discussions and actions are based on the survey results. Communicate that the actions are linked to the quantitative results of the survey and that comments are mainly used to help understand the overall results - not that every comment is going to have an action associated with it. The reason we use a survey is that every respondent gets one vote and that makes it more democratic than just acting on individual comments. This is about linking action and discussion to the survey and setting realistic expectations.

2. Acknowledge Survey Limitations

Communicate that the survey does not answer everything or solve everything and that you need everyone's input to help understand the overall results further and for their involvement in coming up with realistic workable ideas that relate to the overall results - as mentioned above. Again, this is setting expectations and acknowledging that the survey is not a perfect measurement instrument.This helps you gain credibility too by showing you understand the limitations of the survey while communicating thati it is also a democratic way of finding out what to focus on first and foremost.

3. Set Realistic Progress Expectations

The whole time you're linking your discussions and action planning around the survey results don't forget to mention that you're not expecting to have everything solved by the next survey or next time they are asked. Your intention and aim should be to start working on it and to begin making some progress–make incremental change. That is a positive outcome. You can also communicate that culture and engagement is something that will always be a moving target and that the aim is to maintain and improve as best you can all the time - much like a relationship the aim is to keep the communication channels open and your mind open too.

4. Encourage open and honest two-way communication

Communicate that the relationship is mutual and that if a team is disengaged then they may need to look at why other teams in the same company might be more engaged. You should encourage people to view this as something that is potentially about themselves too - not just a manager or a department leader for example. You're all in it together and this is true in every company they will ever work for.

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