Developing a Plan for Employee Surveys
We’ve worked with companies in the past that, upon receiving bad news via employee surveys, decided to table the project and ignore the results. Unfortunately, these companies create a poisonous atmosphere, with inactive, unengaged employees who feel (rightly) that their input is not valued by the organization.
Conducted properly, purposefully and regularly, employee surveys are a valuable tool in your box. The biggest reported obstacles to getting employees to take surveys are confidentiality and follow-up. For your survey to be successful, you need a high rate of return; to insure a high rate of return, you need a plan.
What will the survey contain? If you haven’t done an employee survey, or if it’s been a long time since your company has done one, you may want to start with a broad overview survey. This can be followed by a narrower, targeted survey a few months or a year later. For the broad survey, add questions pertaining to employee relations, fairness, management styles, communication, work/life balances, training and development, and organizational changes.
How will the survey be conducted? Branding the survey can generate excitement. Communicate the importance of the survey through your various channels. Offering incentives for completing the survey and to departments with the highest completion rate work as well. Make sure you take the time to emphasis to employees that the results are completely confidential!
What will be the follow-up? Creating excitement around an employee survey also creates expectations on the employees’ part that their input has value and will be acted upon. In your planning stages, you need to allocate resources for follow-up to the survey. What changes needs to be made in the company? What policies should be crafted? Announcing a positive change as a result of the survey tells employees their time and input are valuable. It will also make them more likely to get involved in the next survey.
Employee surveys may give results that you don’t want. Your plan must also allow for this. Ignoring negative or critical feedback, especially if the same issue(s) occur again and again, will not make your company a better place to be. In fact, conducting the survey and then pretending it didn’t happen will more than likely create a more negative atmosphere, damaging employee relations. Employees will tend not to cooperate on future surveys if they feel the information goes down a ‘black hole.’
Working with a third party is a good way to add critical perspective on employee results & positive and negative. At Miles LeHane we know that getting the questions right is critical, and the follow-up is no less critical.