For your employee engagement survey to be successful – by which I mean eliciting honest, constructive responses – it should be viewed as part of an ongoing dialogue. A dialogue in which your role as a business leader can not be underestimated.

If you’re using your employee surveys purely as a means to generate insight, to benchmark, to monitor… you’re missing a trick.

Running an employee survey isn’t the whole conversation, it’s just the opening line of an ongoing discussion.

Lynne Wright, CExO, Ferris Wheel PX Agency

Yes, employee surveys are a great way to generate data points from which insight can be drawn. And to benchmark and monitor engagement scores. But that is not their sole purpose.

The purpose of running an employee engagement survey should be to inform action. Not simply to generate insight.

By acting on the information your receive you are communicating with your employees and letting them know that you hear what they’re saying; you understand and accept their viewpoint; and you are willing to make changes that improve their employee experience.

As a result, your employees feel like they have a voice, that they can help to shape the way the business is run. They trust that they can be open and honest and that their views are respected.

It seems like common sense right? But there are many business leaders who are yet to realise the important role that they play in this dialogue.

Have a read of the following two examples and identify which side of the spectrum your responses to employee survey data are closest too.

Example #1

Business: “We want feedback from you about your experience of working with us.”

Employees: “Ok. Here’s what we’re willing to share.”

Business: “Thanks for sharing your views. We’re going to go away and discuss this.”

Board meeting: “The survey found problems A, B & C”
“Well, there nothing we can do about A and we’re not going to change C. Find a solution to B but it’s not a priority. Oh and give them X, everyone loves X.”


Business: “Employee survey time again. We want feedback from you about your experience of working with us.”

Employees: “Uh, this again. Ok. Here’s what we’re willing to share… AGAIN.”

Business: “Thanks, we’ll report back soon”

Silence.
Actions are either rejected or sit on a to do list


Business: “Employee survey time again. We want feedback from you about your experience of working with us.”

New employees: “Ok. Here’s what we’re willing to share.”

Long-time employees: “I’m not wasting my time on this any more.”

Example #2

Business: “We want feedback from you about your experience of working with us.”

Employees: “Ok. Here’s what we’re willing to share.”

Business: “Wow, we didn’t know that. Thanks for sharing your views. We’re going to make A, B & C changes as a result.”


Business: “We’ve made some changes in light of what you told us last time and we think things are pretty good, but we thought that before! So, do you mind if we ask about your experience again?”

Employees: “Well, change A was an improvement. Change B seems ok so far. But we’re not happy with change C. It didn’t really address the problem. Oh, and we’re also willing to tell you about problem D now.”

Business: “Sorry to hear we missed the mark on change C, we’ll go back to the drawing board. Thanks for letting us know about problem D we’ll change that.”


Business: “How’s things now?”

Employees: “Change D seems to be improving things. Thanks. About change C though, we think X might help. Oh, and now we know you’re taking our feedback seriously, here’s a few more things we want to say […]”

Business: “Thanks for telling us. We hear you and will continue to make changes addressing the things you share with us.”

How are you responding to your employee engagement survey results?

As these examples show, the way businesses respond to the insight they receive can change not just employee satisfaction and experience, but also survey response rates.

Clearly I’ve documented two extreme examples for effect, but it got me wondering… as a business how do you respond to the insight you get from your employee engagement surveys? Let me know in the comments below.

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