Taking the survey is the easy part- what you do with the results is the key.
It doesn’t matter if your opinion survey is a complex, annual survey with dozens of questions, or a weekly, single question “pulse”, what you do with the information is what will improve your employee engagement.
According to Karen Paul, PHD, in an article for SHRM, ” While many vendors are focusing on differences in measurement approaches (pulse surveys, one-item daily surveys, shorter surveys, more action-based items) to enhance engagement, little attention has been paid to the execution side of the equation.”
In reviewing the results of your survey, be as open as possible. If your employees feel that you are not sharing all the information, or trying to talk them into something they don’t feel is true, you will lose credibility and buy-in.
Which leads directly to a loss of trust. Your employees need to feel that you are genuinely committed to improving the culture and the work environment. If they sense that you are just giving “lip-service” to making necessary changes, it is almost worse than not asking them their opinion at all!
Here are 5 steps that will help you manage any surveys that your organization uses:
Step 1: Analyze the data. Look for clues in the data provided by the survey. Are certain work groups rating the company higher or lower than the average? Is participation lower in certain work groups. Obviously, more detailed surveys provide more data to analyze, and the down side is that you can get stuck in “analysis paralysis”. Look for the top three highs and lows of survey questions and focus there.
Step 2: The comments are where the “meat” is. Look for issues that come up frequently, and don’t get stuck in the one-off comments. Look for themes and trends that come up over and over. Don’t rely too much on word clouds on electronic surveys. There are probably dozens of words that describe pay issues (compensation, bonus, commission, salary etc), so you have to read the comments to understand the commonalities.
Step 3: Get more feedback from employees. Sometimes you still need more information.For example, if you have a low score on a question like “I have the tools and equipment I need to do my job”, you may need to ask employees what they think that refers to.
Different groups of workers will have different needs, so it’s important to get as much information as you can from the employees.
Step 4: Action Planning. There are generally two types of issues that you want to deal with- low hanging fruit and more complex issues and concerns.
The low hanging fruit is easy. Just. Do. It. And then, tell your people that you listened to their feedback, and took care of a problem or issue.
For more complex issues that will take time to resolve, create meaningful action plans, and don’t overextend what you think you can accomplish. Make sure you communicate to your employees that you heard them, and you are working to resolve and issue. Make an update part of all-hands meetings so they know an issue has not disappeared into space.
On the reverse side, if you are unable to solve an issue, tell your people that, and explain why it can’t be done now. This is often related to issues that might be too big, too complex, or too expensive to take on.
Step 5: Follow up with your employees. The worst thing you can do is take an opinion survey and then fail to communicate the results and the actions your leadership team plans to take as a result.
Here are some “Do’s” and “Don’ts” that apply to all opinion surveys:
- Do respond to your employees on the survey results.
- Do ask them to clarify any vague or ambiguous answers or comments.
- Do be honest, and don’t sugarcoat any issues.
- Do involve employees in the search for solutions.
- Do own the fixes you put in place- “You asked, we listened”.
- Do celebrate the positives.
- Don’t dismiss ideas and suggestions that employees have about improving the culture.
- Don’t assume that you know the underlying reasons for low scores or ratings
- Don’t take retribution on an employee that you suspect rated the company poorly, or try to reveal the anonymous aspects of the survey.
- Don’t try to fix too much at once.
- Don’t get discouraged if things don’t immediately improve. Keep at it!
By using these 5 steps and following the do’s and don’ts, you can make the most of opinion survey results and improve your culture.