Staff engagement surveys done well can guide ongoing dialogue with your staff and encourage effective action. However, action needs to be guided by simple and intelligent analysis if it is to be sustainable.
In my previous post I was reminiscing about a scientific organisation that over analysed their staff survey results but didn't do anything with them; in the parlance of science, they kept turning up the same experimental result because they kept using the same experimental condition - inaction. They conclusively demonstrated that doing nothing would not improve morale, no matter how good the survey and analyses are.
In contrast to this, I once worked with an organisation that had been running very basic surveys every few months for many years and they combined this with determined action. They did not conduct any real analyses but simply acted upon everything in the survey and then used rising scores to validate their actions. They were successfully improving their organisation but they had set themselves up for a problem - how could they afford to make a sustainable difference - they were running out of time and money to support all the initiatives they had put in place .
Using a new engagement survey and accompanying driver analyses  we were able to identify that "career development planning" and "organisational vision" were the critical factors for their employees. This information enabled the organisation to cut back on a range of other expensive initiatives and focus their time, money and energy more effectively. After making some changes over the next year we were able to observe a slight initial drop due to some scaling back of initiatives, followed by a recovery on the back of expanded career planning initiatives and a leadership road show.
The organisation continues to act and track progress using regular engagement surveys - but they now combine this with simple and intelligent analysis. This is the most effective method I have seen, and this is the philosophy behind Murmur - ongoing realtime feedback combined with simple intelligent analysis at your fingertips.
More on analysis in my next post.
 Like most organisations, they realized they had a morale problem before they did the survey, and so they had a variety of initiatives in mind already - these included a new building, open space planning, new leaders, new structures and processes, new career planning initiatives and increases in graduate salaries. They knew that all of this together was lifting retention and job satisfaction but they had no idea which of these was most important. They came to us because they were unsure about which initiatives to scale back and which to retain or expand.  Driver analysis is not actually a term you will find in many or any textbooks. In fact the first time I heard the term was many years ago in a job interview: 'Can you tell us how you would conduct a driver analysis for this data?' they asked - showing me a spreadsheet. 'Driver analysis?' I enquired awkwardly; I was thinking Jackie Stewart comparing Prost and Senna or x-ray testing procedures for golf clubs. As it turns out the term applies to a number of different techniques used to assess predictive relationships. Consultants just seem to love automotive metaphors - think 'Learn how to drive your organisation faster' or 'You need a dashboard to view your organisation's performance'. More on driver analysis in my next post.