Making your employee survey count
Let’s assume that your engagement survey is well designed. Now, you need to maximise the reliability of your results by driving up response rates, analysing the results, and taking appropriate, timely action.
The main reasons for poor survey response rates can be categorised into those that results in people not starting the survey and those causing people to fail to finish.
If insufficient numbers of people start the survey it may indicate that you have a trust issue, but it may equally be a lack of communication or a lack of support from line managers that’s the problem. People need to know that you’re running your survey, why you are running it (what the data will be used for), and that their response matters.
Read about boosting employee survey response rates with behavioural science
Read: 8 Tips for a great employee survey launch
As mentioned above, failure to finish the survey is more likely to be down to poor design. Too many questions, ambiguous questions, poor presentation of the questions and, of course, system errors.
We believe that you shouldn’t need to be an expert in people analytics or data science to get insights from your employee survey results. That’s why any good survey platform should provide clear, simple dashboards that highlight your aggregated results, and your highest and lowest scoring questions and allow you to drill down to question level scores. They should also allow you to slice and dice your data by organisational units, geography, and demographics.
Read about designing your dashboards for colour blindness.
You might want to go to the next level and examine statistical relationships or differences, but this does take specialist expertise and/or tools. Applying data science in this way can certainly give you greater insight into, for example, what’s driving your engagement score or whether differences between groups are significant.
Ultimately, whatever numerical insights you are given, there is also a skill to interpreting what they mean for your organisation. If you’ve chosen your questions carefully, based on your People Strategy, then their implications are more likely to be clear. When you pick a survey off the shelf, you’re more likely to be left wondering ‘so what?’ or end up focusing on pushing up the score rather than using it to create meaningful change.
Remember that the primary goal of the survey is not to measure the employee experience, but to improve it.
When it comes to acting on your engagement survey results, you can take a top-down approach or a bottom-up one. We recommend both.
From a top-down perspective, the engagement survey is a unique opportunity to take a broad view of the organisation and how well it is doing against its People Strategy. The data it produces is important for planning ahead as well as assessing progress made.
At the same time, however, line managers can use the report to initiate a conversation with their teams about what they can improve together. If done well, not only can this lead to teams taking more responsibility for their own work environment, but bigger issues discussed can ‘bubble up’ to the next level and ultimately be another source of data for senior management to act upon.
This of course raises the question of who is responsible for the employee survey and, specifically, acting on the results. While HR are normally responsible for the provision and organisation of the survey and may lead the development of strategic initiatives that arise from it, driving employee engagement by acting on the results is a shared responsibility.
Strategic initiatives should have executive sponsorship, line managers should take accountability for improving the experience of their team, and team members should equally take some ownership for the environment that they work in.
Finally, while managers and teams can act upon employee feedback at any time, if the employee survey is seen as a strategic tool, then it makes sense to run the survey so that its results feed into the normal planning cycle.
That way, when leaders communicate the results and the main actions or initiatives that they lead to, if these are embedded into plans for the year ahead, they are more likely to be delivered on than if they sit outside of ‘mainstream’ business planning and review.
If you have any additional questions about running your employee survey, we’d love to hear from you. Why not tweet us at @ThePXHub or contact us?