Getting the most from your engagement survey
Posted by Amy Wilson on February 19, 2009
At this point, nearly all companies conduct employee surveys. Satisfaction, pulse, engagement – whatever they’re called their purpose is to get an understanding of what people think and what can be improved. This is particularly important in trying times when money doesn’t flow freely and everyone needs to get more creative. The good news is that the will is there. However, organizations are still grappling with the following challenges:
1) How to get people to participate? (to get meaningful survey results)
2) What the heck to do with the results? (to get improved business performance)
Interestingly, the two are related. Those organizations that do something meaningful with their results find that participation starts to rise exponentially.
Where to start?
Start small and targeted. Ask just a few questions and decide what you will do about the results ahead of time. For example, ask “will you be better off if the cafeteria stays open until 6?” If most people say yes, then do it. If most people say no or don’t care, then don’t. But, here’s the catch: tell people. Don’t just extend the hours of the cafeteria. Show people the results. Send an email. Post in the cafeteria. Announce at an All Hands meeting. And then? Plug your next survey.
After you tackle the easy and the tangible, the next step is to take on business process improvement. Ask probing questions about motivation. Take the data and identify a couple of hard-hitting programs. And here’s the catch: add them as goals to the business leaders’ goal plans. Make the business leaders accountable for improvement and have them communicate the survey results, the program, and the goal progress.
Now that you’ve got them hooked, it’s time to turn up the dial on engagement. Measure who and where engagement is high and low. Analyze and experiment. Take programs from high engagement areas and model them in low engagement areas. See if there is improvement. Remember the catch: give people a stake in their own engagement.
If you give them a reason, people will participate. If they participate, you’ve got the engagement you need to do a better job. Just start small and focus the most on the actions that result from the survey. In the end, the actions you take are more important than the questions you asked.