Until recently, getting feedback was an incredibly lengthy process. Designing questions, encouraging employees to answer (usually on paper) and collecting in their responses so that an even more lengthy process of analysis could begin. 6 months later the board gets the report unable to apply any action because so much would have passed in between the results would be so out of date and useless.
Technology is changing this. Engagement platforms have considerably shortened the process, enabling us to turn results round in a matter of weeks or days. Even so, many still only run annual surveys, which is an expensive tick-box process. What follows is designed to help you plan effectively for the survey, make good use of the data you collect and create actions for transformational change.
Before everything, you need psychological safety. If your people do not feel confident to share their thoughts without reprisal, you need to start here. There is no point running surveys or asking questions in forums if the business culture does not support open and transparent conversations.
Fail to plan, plan to fail
A plan that consists of-do the survey, communicate results and continue as we were, is destined for failure.
• Where are we now and what do we already know about our culture?
• What do we want a survey to do for us?
• What will we do once we know more?
Leaders really are the key
Gallup and Google’s project oxygen both famously acknowledge how key a manager can be in engaging people and teams in a business. Working closely with your leadership teams will achieve more success from your plan and enable them to implement action as a result.
In my experience, running workshops with this group to share ideas and involve them in the planning and execution, is always beneficial. It is also wise to upskill those that are not used to receiving feedback. Comments in surveys can make for difficult reading so developing resilience and emotional intelligence can help a leader to be curious about the information, investigate further and work with their team to draw up actions for improvement rather than take the results personally.
If you are small enough to get everyone in the room and share ideas, it probably does not work investing in the tech. Open and honest conversations are far more powerful. However, for those of you in businesses much bigger, it makes no sense to attempt to do a large survey in person. Keep this for smaller follow up forums with representatives from each team. There are so many tech options available it is worth scoping well. Some considerations might include:
Hopefully, in your plan, you’ve considered a budget for the engagement work you are doing. What can you get for your budget? Free ones might just be enough though it is worth making a worthwhile investment and demonstrating the return.
Do the provider’s values match yours and your businesses? Some of the tech providers I have come across are tech start-ups pushing for the next investments and drive the hard sell. This might be what you are looking for but it is not for me. I would much prefer to know those that truly care about changing workplace environments not just accelerating their own growth design the tech I am using.
How much support do you get to set up the system? Most don’t need a great deal of set up if you have a good HR system with clean data but if not this does require some help. In addition, how much support do you get in analyzing the data you get? Many vendors collaborate with you to ensure success, though this is not universal.
The days of one survey every year are coming to an end. Businesses and the people within them move so quickly that it is important to keep conversations going. Consider your employee journey and ask questions at each point.
A good cycle could be
Quality Partnering for High action
Once you have the feedback, it is important to remember that actions drive both engagements in the business and engagement of future surveys. People do not get survey fatigue; they are fed up of seeing no action. Your business partners are key to supporting the leaders to work with their teams to create actions and act on them. Meeting regularly with leaders, supporting and guiding them to achieve their plans and keeping them as part of every agenda will develop a focus on employee engagement and the creation of better workplace experiences.
It is not all about the survey
Your surveyor method for gaining employee insight is, in the end, just a tool and should not be the focus of an engagement strategy. The tool can be instrumental in helping you understand what your people are saying but real change comes from the actions that individuals, teams, their leaders and the business make. Remember, the actions and progress you make towards better workplace experiences will attract more talent. As you project your commitment on your employees, it will have an impact on your business performance.
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