When it comes to employee engagement surveys, the old adage springs to mind: “If you want an answer then you must ask a question.” And while there are different schools of thought on the usefulness of employee engagement surveys; one thing is certain; if best-in-class companies such as Google, Amazon and Intel all attest to the fact that it’s one of the most effective ways to understand and engage employees better and have the employee engagement stats to prove it, it definitely is worth sitting up and taking notice of.
At the outset, it must be said that running an employee engagement survey isn’t the magical elixir for fixing a broken company culture nor will it improve employee engagement levels overnight.
However, if your employee engagement survey is considerate - really taking into account what your employees have to say - to garner honest feedback with a view of implementing remedial course of action, then you’re on the right track.
Employee engagement surveys need to be well designed, with the right questions that result in obtaining actionable insights that can be used in support of your company’s other talent management and people practices. A well-run employee engagement survey benefits employees, management and ultimately organisations.
Employee engagement: what’s all the fuss about?
Companies run employee engagement surveys for many reasons; most notably they want to gauge their levels of engagement in the workplace and try to understand the reasons for disengagement.
To many, employee engagement, is quite a soft metric - fuzzy at best but the benefits to a company’s culture and bottom line cannot be overstated.
Employee engagement drives specific behaviours that result in employees being more:
An engaged employee is aligned to the company’s values and feels a sense of purpose and accomplishment in delivering above-standard performances. He/she experiences a high-level of emotional commitment to the company’s vision and mission and as a result exercises initiatives on projects and daily tasks and is fully committed to progress.
Wouldn’t you want all your employees to feel this way? Just imagine if you had a workforce that was all in, committed to your company’s purpose and objectives.
Now that you have an idea of the importance of having an engaged workforce, some great news: An employee engagement survey is the first step in working towards ‘bringing everyone to sign off the same engagement sheet’.
So, let’s dive into some top tips for getting the survey right:
1. Ensure that your surveys build trust
Relationships are a two-way street and the employee-employer one is no different. No relationship can last with a one-way communication strategy.
A survey is your company’s way of communicating; asking for feedback that demonstrates that you care about your employees, their opinions matter and what they are experiencing counts.
Whether you’re an employee engagement survey newbie or whether you’re a seasoned surveyor, it is important to note how you communicate with your workforce.
One of the most common things that fail when companies conduct employee engagement surveys is the ambiguous nature of it.
It is critical to understand that clarity when conducting surveys is essential to good participation which in turn leads to obtaining actionable data that leads to creating useful insights that empowers your company to make better decisions.
2. Tell your employees what you are measuring
Many companies don’t involve their employees in the company’s survey planning and strategic thinking as to what they want to measure with an employee engagement survey.
Include your employees in the thought process and help them understand what employee engagement is. Help them to understand that it isn’t a management, leadership or HR related concept, everyone is responsible for employee engagement.
When employees understand what employee engagement is and how it affects their daily work life they may see things differently - it definitely is a way to build more effective communication that could lead to engagement.
3. Use surveys as a platform for positive change
When conducting a survey, you don’t only have to inform employees what they need to do but also inform them what the survey will allow you, as a company, to do.
Give them a good sense of how measuring employee engagement can help the company create a better employee experience for them and this in turn will help them create better customer experiences that will all enable the company to reach its goals.
Frame the questions and statements in a way that doesn’t only act as a venting ground for employees but also include questions and statements that help them to reflect on positive work-life experiences. In this way, you are able to see which areas you are excelling at and which areas need some work.
4. Communicate to your employees what you need from them.
Studies have shown that surveys in which employees know what is required from them results in more honest, transparent participation and great suggestions. When employees fully participate that leads to great, actionable data.
With this candid, quantitative feedback you have collected through the survey, you’ll be able to really see what works and what doesn’t.
Surveys give employees a voice, but they cannot be heard if you don’t set-up the survey with questions that also enable them to provide you with qualitative feedback.
5. Protect your employees with anonymity - it’s a must.
Your employees need to feel safe when completing an employee engagement survey. So it is very important to include information about the way their data and responses will be treated.
Very often, employees feeling worried that their managers will see their feedback results in low participation and response rate in engagement surveys. Anonymous employee engagement surveys enable employees to respond more honestly and can result in a few pockets of inaccurate data when running a survey.
6. Always consider cultural differences and language.
Low participation can be due to cultural differences and language nuances not having been considered. Think carefully about the best ways to engage various parts of your company and remember to use plain, clear language to ensure the survey is easy to understand and to respond.
7. Ask your employees for ideas on improving their workplace.
One of the best ways to find solutions to improve your company culture and employee engagement is to ask the people who experience it every day.
That’s right, your employees. For a team to be functional you need to have great communication - and what better way to improve communication and build engagement than to include them in building the solutions.
Develop questions in the employee engagement survey that ask them to communicate how they could contribute or become involved in making things better. The ‘people on the ground’ would probably have some of the best ideas in creating solutions that can improve company culture and employee satisfaction.
8. Thank your employees for their participation.
This might seem like a no-brainer - saying ‘thanks for participating’ to your employees, but it really is an important step in running an effective employee engagement survey.
Once you’ve thanked your employees, create some buzz by teasing them with one stand-out result or response. Also let your workforce know when the results will be released and how - companies of varying sizes will handle this part differently.
9. Champion change by giving timeous feedback.
So you have successfully run your engagement survey, now it’s time to tally the results and give your employees feedback and the planned course of action. It is critical that this part is dealt with the same importance as running the actual survey.
Create an internal campaign that helps your employees to not only focus on the results but on the measures that the company will be implementing.
Help them to focus on the fact that action is being taken based on their valuable feedback to build a better workplace. Communicating this feedback is one of the keys to running an effective engagement survey, but a lack can be detrimental.
Use the feedback session to help build on the positive feedback of the survey and focus on fixing what’s not working so well. This is a great opportunity to bring your workforce together to work towards a common goal: Building a great company culture and employee experience.
10. Help your employees feel that action is being taken.
Employees must feel that action will be taken from the feedback they provide. Many employees feel immense frustration when asked to complete a survey that they just know ‘nothing will be done about it’. This is the sort of disengagement from the survey process and the company that you should avoid.
Oftentimes companies do take action but it isn’t communicated to employees - it’s important that any action that was taken as a result of the survey be conveyed company-wide.
Employee engagement surveys help companies to check the ‘pulse’ of their teams at any time and provides great insight into employee challenges. It is also great to check-in on how company initiatives are performing.
Simply put: Employee engagement surveys when used effectively can offer valuable data to improve employee engagement levels in your company and assist you in fostering a stellar company culture.
What are some of the ways you use an employee engagement survey? Sound off in the comments below, we’d love to hear them.