One of our customers recently said “the worst thing we could do is conduct a survey and then do nothing.” A big challenge that organizations face when conducting employee surveys is responding to them, and effectively communicating their process for taking action and driving change.
Sadly, a mistake a lot organizations make is trying to do everything–or trying to do too much, all at once. They get results, they identify 10 areas for improvement, and they spend months, sometimes longer fleshing out a strategy for how they are going to implement change (any change!). All the while, employees are wondering, “what ever happened with that survey we took?” With no awareness or visibility into the process, employees simply assume nothing is being done.
Technology has driven the evolution of business processes, and development speed of new technologies. Many product development teams think in terms of the “minimum viable product” or MVP (read more about this), which means they are getting the product to market with just the features to make it "a product"–then they will get feedback, iterate, and release it again, for more feedback and more iteration. Why shouldn’t we take this approach with employee engagement, why can’t HR think in terms of MVP?
Instead of spending a year analyzing and strategizing on how you’re going to respond (consider, many of your most valued employees may have left by then) try taking small, iterative actions that result in incremental change, so employees can see things are happening, immediately–and, so you can then gather more feedback and, make more iterative improvements.
Here are 5 ways to respond quickly to employee survey results:
Be transparent: a lot of times engagement issues steam from a lack of communication. Either employees don’t feel they are being heard or recognized, or there simply isn’t enough alignment within the organization as a whole when it comes to vision and values. Take your engagement survey as an opportunity to be transparent. Proactively share the results at your next all-hands meeting, and be honest about where there are areas for improvement and some thoughts on how you’re going to make changes. Often times, employees really just want to see that the leadership team is aware and on-board to make change happen–that you're all in it together.
Dig deeper: following up on engagement surveys doesn't always have to be a massive undertaking. Once you’ve reviewed the initial results, if you need to dig a little deeper, do so. Maybe the responses to certain questions were not what you expected, maybe you need to re-phrase them? Or you notice something very odd with one group in particular, why not send them a follow up survey? It doesn’t have to be long, even asking 2-3 additional questions could do the trick. Another way to dig deeper might be to set up 1-1 interviews with groups that scored extra high or extra low on engagement and get additional qualitative feedback on why that might be.
Manager reviews: 1-1 meetings to review survey results with team managers, can be a great opportunity to understand how each manager is doing with their group, some times engagement is linked to an employee’s relationship with their direct supervisor, so take this as an opportunity to “nip it in the bud.” Working with individual managers can incrementally improve their performance as well as address any immediate engagement issues.
Small group discussions: often times, after conducting a survey, you find there are geographic regions, departments, or certain demographic groups that have the same type of feedback and the reason maybe still be unknown. In that situation, set up small group meetings where you can review the results with the group and host an open dialogue to try and learn why these groups may be having a different experience than others, sometimes its something that can be easily remedied, but you may never really know without going there and opening it up for discussion.
The "engagement" task force: a good way to quickly show employees your serious is to request their help. Depending on business objectives and survey results, determine what the 3-5 major engagement issues need resolution and hold an open call for volunteers to join a task force. This will help you two fold, you’ll be working towards a resolution, and you’ll be engaging employees that are passionate about certain issues, and empowering them to be the change they want to see.
[Photo credit via Pichler Consulting]