Employee surveys are a great way to solicit employee input about numerous issues and are a regular part of work life in many forward-thinking organizations. Surveys can be a good and efficient way to “check in” with employees about their work experiences. However, many of the surveys we’ve seen in the marketplace fail to give organizations the information they need to drive performance in a meaningful way. In most cases, the surveys may give quite of bit of data about things that are “nice to know”, but little to help leaders actually reach the organizations’ goals. From the employee point of view, a lack of visible response to the survey leads to apathy and cynicism about the whole process. In the worst cases, potential “win-win” situations become viewed as “lose-lose” events in the organizations’ history.
But it doesn’t have to be this way! The most common problem we see is the lack of connection between what the organization is trying to accomplish – in the short or long term – and the focus of the employee survey. Here are our suggestions for adding some “Meat” to your next Employee Survey:
- Take another good look at your organization’s strategic goals and ask, “What can our employees tell us that will help us reach these goals?
- Take another look at your last survey results and ask, “Which of these results did we use and are they still relevant to us today?”
- Also take a good look at the results you did not use – those areas that were “nice to know”, but not actionable for one reason or another – and ask, “How strong is the link between these areas and our strategic plan?”. If the results were not used in a meaningful way, the link may be weak and these would be areas to trim from your next survey.
- Get top management fully involved in your next survey – real involvement that goes beyond knowing where and when the survey will take place and a giving nod at the instrument. Real involvement means honest dialogue about the above questions, input about other areas that would be relevant to the organization’s performance and goals. When this type of involvement is secured, buy-in to the process, results and commitment to using the results soars.