19 Apr

Engagement Surveys: Yes, They’re Worth It! Here’s How to Make Them Less Painful

by Rachel Poppe Weessies in Employee Engagement 0 comments

In my last post I talked about some of the things that suck about traditional employee engagement surveys but also highlighted their importance. To recap, employee engagement surveys often suck because they are a tedious, have poor or inaccurate response rates and often don’t result in any change. On the other hand, employee engagement surveys can be really useful because:

  1. Engagement matters – research has proven that increased engagement can result in increased profitability, productivity, customer ratings and results in decreased quality defects, safety incidents and absenteeism.
  2. Data matters – decisions based upon solid data are more likely to lead to better results.

So we’ve established that engagement surveys are valuable and it doesn’t make sense to throw them out just because the process can be time-consuming. There is one thing that is crucial in conducting an engagement survey and if it isn’t done, you may as well throw out the survey.

The most important thing is that ACTION must be taken based upon the results of the survey. Seriously. Asking for feedback and then proceeding to ignore it is not a good way to engage employees. Creating and executing an action plan is key. Here is an example of a change that resulted from an engagement survey:

Through an Engagement Indicator survey we conducted for one of our clients, we discovered that a significant number of employees were really confused about the bonus program and how bonuses were allocated. As a result, they felt that the bonus structure was unfair.  We helped them draft a company-wide memo that clearly and concisely explained the bonus structure and resolved a great deal of the confusion surrounding this. This is a small and easy (but effective) change that resolved an issue that was a real problem for many employees.

Keep in mind that this is a small change made at the organizational level. The biggest changes occur when individual leaders take the results of the feedback from their teams to heart and commit to becoming better leaders.

Taking action should be the number one priority if you plan to make your surveys more effective. There are also a few other tips that may help your survey be more effective and ease the pain of conducting them:

  1. Keep them short: Survey abandon rates increase by 20% for surveys that take more than 7-8 minutes to complete. Questions should be simple and concise.
  2. Ensure results are anonymous: It is important that employees trust the process. If they believe that their manager is going to base their bonus on the rating they give him (or make their life more difficult), the integrity of the survey is significantly diminished. Individual survey responses should be completely anonymous and not accessible to managers. It can be a good idea to have a third party conduct a survey to ensure that employees truly trust the process.
  3. Ask the right questions: Irrelevant questions get irrelevant answers. If your survey asks questions like, “On a scale of 1 to 5, how satisfied are you with Organization X?” you need to get a new survey. At Acuity we have conducted surveys for clients that involve as few as 12 thoughtful questions that have been proven to measure the core elements needed to attract, focus, and retain your organization’s most talented employees and drive results. Shameless plug alert: Acuity HR also provides a meaningful action plan based upon the results of the survey.
  4. Results need to be transparent: Employees and leaders alike need to be shown the accumulated results of the survey. Employees need to see that their feedback is valued and has been recognized. Survey results give feedback to leaders regarding how they are doing from a leadership perspective.

Gathering data through engagement surveys is absolutely worth it so long as the surveys are properly conducted and the data is used to drive change!

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