Survey Says…

The engagement blogosphere has been alive with discussion about employee engagement surveys (and the value thereof) in the last month.

Tim Wright in his “Culture to Engage” blog gave guidance on what questions to ask:
“The questions should be sincere, clear, and answerable in a short and easy span of time by your people. The real secrets to making an employee opinion survey work are these:
1. Managers communicate and supervise the importance of employees completing the survey.
2. Data from the survey is summarized comprehensively and clearly and used to support improved employee engagement.
3. The survey tool is used repeatedly and regularly to improve employee engagement continuously.”

Also, good advice. Employees won’t take the survey seriously if their managers don’t. Completion of surveys should be included in KPIs or MBOs, just as recognition targets should be. And repeated use of the same survey allows for accurate trending over time. Gallup’s Q12 survey is a good example of a short survey that targets key issues but lets employees finish the survey quickly.

In her “Make Their Day” blog, Cindy Ventrice recently commented:
“Never make assumptions about what the survey results mean. Follow up until you have a complete understanding of why respondents answered the way they did. Otherwise, you’re likely to misinterpret the results.”

This is very sage advice, especially since different employees interpret the same question through their own filters. This phenomenon can be clearly seen in surveys where the same question is asked in multiple ways, returning vastly different answers from the same employee. How you ask matters. How you follow up to gain deeper understanding matters more.

It is critical to actually have an action plan that then addresses the issues uncovered and highlighted in the surveys. There is nothing worse than doing survey upon survey that show, for example, a general feeling of low employee recognition levels – and then not doing anything visible to rectify the situation! At Globoforce, we’ve found launching a global, strategic employee recognition program to be one of the most powerful proofs that the company is taking real, positive action after such surveys – and starting to walk the talk.

What kind of surveys do you use? What are your follow-up techniques? Are you seeing short and long-term value from your surveys? Share your best practices and learn others in Comments.

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