Last week we talked about how we’re largely underutilizing (or sometimes misusing) engagement surveys. We’ve lost our way a bit. Although we started off with great intentions, our process and post-survey work often fall short of our best hopes such as:
- to elevate the employee experience
- to increase retention
- to elevate trust
- to give enable focused continuous improvement
They cost a lot of money. They take a lot of time. And everything surrounding your survey – from the questions you ask to the way it’s launched to your follow up – is a reflection of the current climate and even of your overall culture. And it can be worth it. This post is about ensuring it is.
(PS – fellow organizational behaviour nerds like me, you may be interested in this article on the difference been organization climate versus culture.)
A Solution-Oriented Approach to Engagement Surveys that Trust Engage
If you follow my blogs regularly, you will know I find it challenging to sit in a problem-centric place for long. Let’s talk about solutions. What is within your power to influence and implement the most effective engagement survey possible? Here’s some of my best advice (from 20 years of practice…insert “it must be Oil of Olay” commercial reference for anyone over the age of 35 ;-] )
Make it Mutual
If I were to ask you why you’re doing an engagement survey and you answer “because somebody is expecting us to do it” (e.g., you are legislated to do one) but you know good and well that there will be no or minimal follow-through, then match the survey with minimal effort for you and the recipient.
If your launch, communication, and/or survey is more robust than your follow-up to results, scale back the front end so it’s not quite so lopsided. Otherwise, it’s a one-sided benefit: it’s like asking someone to the prom and then deciding to go to a movie instead (without them).
Make it Valuable
So much is on busy middle managers’ shoulders. Asking them to tell their staff, having them nag people to complete a survey, and then emailing them a report and saying “fix it” (among 100 other competing priorities) is completely unrealistic yet often the reality. Not only do managers not want to (or can’t) do it, it’s based on the premise we used to call “competition by nagging.”
If people see that the information will be used, that the organization cares what they have to say, and (as we’ll talk about next) they have the time and resources to complete the survey, they’re more likely to do it. If it’s not seen as valuable, it’s like asking your teenager to pay you every time they clean their room.
Make it Accessible
We make staff jump through all kinds of hoops to fill out our surveys. Computer surveys for staff who don’t normally work at a computer or a private spot to access one. Short timelines outside of when casual staff might be at work. Only an English version when not everyone is English speaking. Not to mention, not meeting accessibility standards (such as AODA in Ontario).
Consider all the barriers to people completing the survey in advance, and work hard to combat them. One way might be to ask fewer questions (e.g., some folks use the Gallup 12). Knowing there is a barrier yet not addressing it is like expecting Siri to cook dinner for you just because you asked her to look up a recipe (Apple will probably figure out how to make this happen within a few years but for now, likely not).
It’s Your Turn
What have I forgotten here? Rockstar readers, I know you have great suggestions too:
- What additional “Make it…” tips do you have?
- Have you had success in elevating the effectiveness of employee surveys?
- What changes have been made to increase ROE (return on effort) and/or validate ROI (return on investment)?
In the third part of our series, I’m going to dive into the employee experience as the next frontier for engagement. The train has already left the station so don’t get left behind.
In the meantime, if your employee engagement surveys have been telling you for years that you need to elevate recognition, I’ve shared all my secrets below. These are all the tools that I use to build (or rebuild) recognition programs now all in one short course (that HR folks, you’ll get continuing education credits for).
For more content on creating a great employee experience, check out these links: