Innovative HR Solutions, LLC

Monday, March 11, 2024

What are the Lessons Learned from an Employee Survey Expert?

Many companies are lacking the expertise to deal with multiple evolving business issues such as competition, technology concerns, workforce development and talent management.  These demands can contribute to a very complex work environment.  To meet this challenge organizations will often determine that the best way to plan for the future is to determine how their employees are responding to change today.  One of the best ways to evaluate employee satisfaction and engagement is to conduct an employee survey.  Outlined below are several lessons learned about the employee survey process so that the HR professional can make the survey process more effective.

Survey Initiative Discussion about the Types of Survey

Participating organizations are using a wide range of employee surveys to gather information and insight to make informed decisions. Each survey collects various types of data and during the discussions with the leadership team it is important to determine what type of survey is to be conducted, the frequency and overall goals of the initiative.  Employee engagement surveys focus on culture and vision, pulse surveys identify targeted areas of improvement, and on-boarding and off-boarding surveys complete the life cycle of an employee.  Management will need to identify the goal of each survey to ensure that the survey will meet the needs of the organization.

Vendor Selection Process

Organizations that primarily use external survey vendors are significantly more satisfied with their survey process than organizations using self-service online survey services. The reasons survey companies are providing greater satisfaction and value include the expertise and experience provided, timely reporting and analysis,  objective analysis of survey results, more focus on implementing changes, and greater support and involvement from management.   

Survey Design and Development

The key reasons for conducting employee surveys include identifying performance improvement opportunities, assessing engagement and satisfaction levels and trends, ongoing measurement and identifying causes of employee turnover.  Make sure to focus your organization’s surveys on gathering actionable information that will positively impact employees, customers, the environment and your bottom line.  Keep your survey short, provide an opportunity for employees to provide written comments and utilize the demographic survey feature to drill down to provide meaningful data to leaders, managers and supervisors.

Survey Launch

The most common frequency for conducting surveys is annually and organizations strive to achieve a high survey response rate with a 3-week survey response period being the most popular.  Organizations that conduct a 3-week survey will typically have a survey response rate of 60% or greater.

Post Survey Analysis

It is imperative that the survey results be effectively communicated to all staff.  This can be accomplished through a communication strategy in which the executive team shares the results, engages the staff to better understand the underlying issues, and then identifies the most appropriate initiatives to resolve the issues and enhance the organization.  Where appropriate, it is important to involve the employees in the problem solving and implementation process to create ownership and shared accountability. The power of a survey like this is to give the employees a voice and then to let them know that they have been heard and that their feedback is being taken seriously. As meaningful action steps are taken to address their concerns, they will be more likely to participate in these types of surveys moving forward.

Action Plans and Accountability

The leadership team needs to periodically follow up to address and share the organization’s progress with respect to achieving the agreed upon goals.  When reviewing the results of this or any survey, it is important to remember that the data and feedback received reflects the perceptions of the respondents. These perceptions present a substantially accurate view of how the organization is understood culturally and systemically by the survey participants and are a valuable tool as the organization undertakes any improvement process. What a survey cannot provide is “scientific truth” about the organization. Disparities between perceptions held about the organization and the realities of the organization sometimes do exist, often due to a lack of communication or lack of clarity about the organization’s mission, values, or strategic goals. Given this understanding of the difference between “perception” and “reality,” those who initiate follow-up action after the survey results can then assess how accurately these perceptions reflect actual conditions within the organization.

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