Implementing the right course of action following an employee engagement survey can be make-or-break for your organization. If the wrong actions are taken, you’re at risk of losing trust from your people and sponsorship from your executives moving forward. You want your employees to know that you hear their concerns and that you’re doing everything that you can to resolve those concerns as quickly as possible. After all, as a culture champion within your organization, there’s no worse feeling than feeling like you weren’t able to move the needle after an engagement survey.
In the feedback-driven culture that we live in – with Yelp, Glassdoor and Twitter – employees expect to see quick responses from employers following company-wide surveys. Or they’re out the door and onto the next job… To compound the high expectations from employees, there are also elevated expectations from executives.
Leaders don’t want to invest heavily into employee engagement initiatives if they (1) don’t feel like they’re moving the needle on engagement and (2) don’t have insight into how these initiatives are impacting the business. No longer are HR departments solely responsible for collecting people data. HR is now responsible for data collection, data interpretation, and data-driven action. In regards to engagement surveys, great strides have been made with data collection, but data interpretation and data-driven action could still improve.
This is both due to the toolsets available to HR teams and the outdated methods for capturing employee feedback. The long-winded annual engagement survey is great for collecting surface-level feedback (data), but it doesn’t provide enough context to drive meaningful insights to take action on. To close the gap on what’s expected from engagement initiatives these days and what HR can deliver with the annual survey, a new approach is needed.
It’s not an Employee Engagement Survey that your company needs. What you’re looking for is an Employee Engagement Cycle. Historically, companies stop collecting employee feedback after the annual employee survey, which is meant to give organizations a complete diagnostic on engagement within their organization. While annual engagement surveys are great at identifying surface level issues and establishing a baseline for future comparison, they aren’t great at finding practical solutions to the issues uncovered.
It might be tempting to take action on multiple themes at once, but too often when this approach is taken, nothing ends up being accomplished. You get the “I told you so” from the executive that was against the initiative all along and your employees are frustrated that nothing was done about their feedback. What if you didn’t stop collecting feedback after that initial baseline survey? What if instead, you followed up with your employees to crowdsource solutions on the most pressing issues at hand? After all, 9/10 times your people are the ones with the answers. This is where the idea of an engagement cycle comes into play.
Employee Engagement Cycle:
1. Conduct your standard engagement baseline survey
2. Analyze your survey data and pinpoint the lowest scoring area of engagement
3. Follow up with a topic-specific pulse survey to employees 2-3 weeks later to crowdsource solutions on your most pressing engagement issues
By following up with a topic-specific pulse survey 2-3 weeks later, you’re showing your people that you hear them and that you want their help addressing their feedback. To get specifics on your employee engagement issues, you’ll need to ask very pointed questions related to the topic. Let’s say that you’ve been able to identify that communication is a problem, but you don’t know exactly what that means. This is a great opportunity for you to follow up with questions (both quantitative and qualitative) that elicit feedback specific to communication:
- I know what I am responsible for at work [Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree]
- People I work with listen to what I have to say [Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree]
- Different teams at COMPANY NAME share critical information with one another [Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree]
- Open communication is encouraged through all levels of the organization [Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree]
- I trust the information I receive from others [Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree]
- Company communications help me do a better job [Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree]
- There is good communication between people in different areas of the company [Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree]
- Please provide additional feedback on transparency and communication at COMPANY NAME [Free Response]
- What is the one thing we can do to improve communication at COMPANY NAME [Free Response]
This should be a pulse survey (8-12 questions). Not only will this ensure high participation, but it will also be clear to employees that you’re taking their feedback seriously. With the data that you’ve collected from your initial baseline survey and your follow up survey, you should be armed with all that you need to review findings with your leadership team. With your leadership team, you can:
1. Put together an action plan to address employee concerns
2. Close the loop with employees by communicating findings and taking the right course of action
But the work isn’t over there… You should repeat this process 3-4 times a year. What’s frustrating your employees today is not what will be frustrating them 5-6 months down the road.