Getting the Most Out of Your Employee Survey

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Employee surveys can be an enormously valuable source of actionable insights about how to improve business results through more effectively engaging employees.

This potential too often goes unrealized, however, because many executives or leaders find themselves stuck in outdated ways of thinking about what employee surveys can and should do.

We recommend three steps to create more value from your employee engagement survey.

Ask the Right Questions

That’s Step #1.  Your survey “real estate” is a valuable commodity, so use it wisely.  You’ll also get more responses – and more accurate answers – when you keep your surveys short.

You should ask questions that fall into 2 categories:

  • Outcomes: Ask a few questions about “summative” outcomes such as employee engagement, intent to stay, organizational support for customer service, etc.  (We call these summative because they’re the outcome that results from summing up many, many other factors.  An employee’s level of engagement, for example, reflects numerous elements of the environment in which he/she works each day.)
  • Actionable/diagnostic: Ask a larger number of questions related to the organization’s work, learning, and leadership environment.  These are the specific elements that can drive (or impede) your organization’s ability to achieve key outcomes.

Analyze, Analyze, Analyze

Above all else, you should be seeking to use survey results to drive better business results through more effective management of employees.  And that just can’t happen without the right analysis.

This is where most surveys fall flat on their faces and end up gathering dust.

How should you approach survey analysis?

  • Don’t obsess about “highest” or “lowest” scores (or how your organization might benchmark against a bunch of other organizations)
  • Instead, focus on identifying which factors are the biggest drivers of those key summative outcomes (including key organizational business goals).  Among the largest drivers, focus on the ones that offer the best opportunity for improvement (the most room for growth).

While that might sound complicated, it turns out to be fairly straightforward – but only after you’ve shifted your mindset away from highest/lowest and benchmarking.

Make Things Easy

The two steps above are necessary – but they’re still not enough. This final step ensures what you did in the first two steps actually matters.

You need to communicate the results in a way that allows your busy leaders and managers to understand them easily.  It’s especially important that they understand what actions they should take to improve engagement and drive better business results.

How to do this?

  • Focus on quality of insight, not quantity
  • Be succinct, using a well-written narrative, supplemented with a few carefully-chosen graphics
  • If possible, create highly-visual, “mass-customized” reports that point each manager specifically to relevant results and the most important actions to take within his/her department or team

Make things easy – and the results will follow.

Want help getting started on the path to “easy” and creating more insight from your employee survey?  Feel free to contact us today with any questions – or you can schedule a free 30-minute phone conversation if you’d like to discuss this in more detail.

Looking for a little more detail on the three steps above?  You can download a two-page PDF issue brief on the “Three Steps” described above.  Or download our longer article on this topic from Talent Management magazine.


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