Potential clients will often approach our firm and indicate that they want to conduct an employee survey to find out what the employees are thinking. The motives of the Human Resource leaders in making this inquiry are based upon a need to discover what is happening in the trenches and take action where necessary. Even though the HR leaders want to do what is right they often get lost in the process and don’t take the long-term perspective.
In order to have a successful outcome we recommend that our clients follow a four step process to determine if an employee survey is the most appropriate means of evaluating satisfaction and engagement. Here are the recommended steps to ensure a successful survey:
1. Define engagement and inform the employees what this means and how engagement supports the business. Our definition of engagement is as follows: “Employee engagement is the relationship between an organization and its employees. An engaged employee is one who subscribes to the values and goals of the organization and works to ensure success.” Engagement varies by industry and employer and much like a mission statement, engagement should have the support of the organization by being published and marketed through-out the company.
2. An engagement index is a numerical value that quantifies engaged employees that are aligned and fully support the success of the organization in contrast to those that are disengaged. Organizations that score high are typically successful and have a dynamic leadership team with high employee engagement. They also have a clearly defined operational succession plan, a supportive administrative infrastructure, and programs and policies to support enhanced productivity. These engagement indicators are interdependent – good leaders make good business decisions; progressive compensation and benefits programs attract and retain employees; employee engagement drives income and productivity. Ensure that the leaders of the organization understand how these values impact productivity and the bottom-line. Only with the leaders buy-in of an engagement index with the survey process be successful.
3. An engagement survey is not an isolated event but rather the process to improve employee satisfaction and make your company an employer of choice. While measurement is key to the program’s success the action planning process will make or break the initiative. If managers are not held accountable, assume responsibility and be held accountable for improvement this program will not be successful. HR needs to transition from “running a survey” to supporting the needs of the business by working with key leaders to develop action plans and accountability measures based upon the data collected during the survey process.
4. Ensure that a process for following-up on the agreed upon action plans is adhered to and becomes part of the company culture. If a consistent process is not established the survey process will be lost by newer initiatives, a business crisis or change in personnel. Our experience has shown that if quarterly meetings are scheduled to ensure accountability the process is much more successful. In addition, follow-up surveys to evaluate trends and long-term employee satisfaction and engagement will support progressive business practices.
In conclusion, employers today face extraordinary challenges with respect to managing the business and at the same time meeting the needs of their employees. Human Resources leaders need to take the long-term perspective with respect to engagement and the survey process.