When unpacking employee survey results, read the comments last

Don't read the comments. Don't read the comments.

[Image Credit]

We do analytics for company culture, the cornerstone of which is our employee engagement survey. One of the considerations in the design of our reporting is how to represent comments.

It’s no coincidence that the comments are last on our main reporting dashboard. Comments are extremely important, but they need to be considered carefully and in context.

The illustration above sums up why perfectly. It’s almost impossible not to fixate on certain comments, particularly negative ones. Just one or two negative comments can easily drown out otherwise valuable feedback.

When our surveys conclude we run a brief results session to show customers how to best interpret the data. In this, we outline the following approach:

  • The first sanity check is participation. Make sure you’ve got enough of your organization represented to be confident in the data. Culture Amp customers regularly get participation rates that are greater than 90% or more. Our benchmark report talks about this a little more.
  • Take a look at your headline figures. How is your overall score for Engagement? If you've surveyed over time you may be also be comparing to historical results and other benchmarks.
  • Dig into the next level down. In the Culture Amp platform we have guides that help you find the niches and micro-cultures in your organizations - e.g. Is the Sales Department getting result that are way off your other departments?
  • Use Driver Analysis to pick a few themes and form the foundation of your action planning. Generally a handful of key themes will bubble up.
  • Finally, use the comments to flesh out your themes and give them color. Depending on the volume of comments you may want to quickly assign them to your themes. This will place the comments into the analytical context you've already developed.

Getting through the quantitive data first and locking down your themes is important. It gives you the anchor to read the comments in context... and hopefully avoid the "one bad comment" bias.

Happy reading!

About Culture Amp

We've brought together experts in technology, data science and organizational psychology to ensure you can get the clarity you need, when you need it. Measuring employee engagement, experience and 360° feedback is simple using Culture Amp.

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