If your organization is anything like mine, then the announcement of the annual engagement survey always brings heavy sighs and eye-rolls from employees. While Human Resources understands the importance of this survey for the organization, employees do not always recognize its worth. They find it cumbersome, long, and according to a pulse survey conducted by LinkedIn, the majority of employees (80 percent) don’t believe anything is done with the results. In some organizations, the engagement survey is tied to manager bonuses which may be unfair if situations and priorities change more quickly in the organization than the annual survey can measure.
Part 1: Complaints
Let’s take a closer look at two of the common complaints regarding annual engagement surveys.
The process takes too long.
I have identified at least eight steps to take to streamline your annual engagement survey.
- Get executive leadership buy-in to conduct the survey.
- Form a committee to either develop the survey questions themselves, or find an appropriate vendor to conduct the survey.
- Draft the survey questions and get leadership approval.
- Finalize the survey and send it to employees.
- Analyze the survey data.
- Train department champions to share the results of the survey and develop action plans.
- Submit the action plan for leadership approval.
- And then… at this point you may decide that this type of survey should be done biannually. Repeat the process accordingly.
By the time the data are collected and analyzed, it is dated and may no longer be as relevant as we might like. Employees may not recall how they responded to questions, or employees that had specific requests for action may no longer be with the company.
No action is taken toward implementing employee suggestions after the survey.
This complaint may be partially due to the generalized data that is collected in the annual survey. It could indicate that the information is simply not specific enough for employers to integrate survey suggestions into changes within the organization’s strategic plan. Other times, leadership has implemented changes, but has not done an adequate job of communicating these changes to employees. Regardless, employees will be less likely to take the annual survey seriously if they cannot see some corresponding changes in the company in response to their candor.
Part 2: Suggestions
Consider also the following suggestions for using technology, more frequent surveys, and action plans to enhance the value of annual engagement surveys:
- Engage employees using mobile devices. Employees are already engaged with friends and family using technology. We suggest that organizations should try to harness this technology to enhance engagement within workplaces.
- Explore topics one at a time with smaller pulse surveys throughout the year administered through mobile devices. It is easier for the organization to tackle one targeted item at a time than the large list of issues brought to light by an annual survey.
- Ask questions that give direction for action plans. For example, instead of asking employees how satisfied they are with opportunities for advancement, ask where and how employees would like to move within the organization. In other circumstances, asking deeper questions may result in getting to the root causes of deeper organizational problems.
- Create action plans using the information gathered and make the changes visible to employees. For example, if you ask employees where and how they would like to move within the organization, follow up by charting pathways and requirements for each job and post this information on the company intranet.
Creating engagement within an organization should be an ongoing activity to be used as a tool to address specific corporate goals and concerns. To keep your employees engaged, they need to know that they are being heard and that the company is taking steps to make changes based on their suggestions. As the workforce becomes more engaged, productivity and creativity will increase and so will the achievement of corporate goals and objectives. In other words, this is a win-win situation for both the employee and the organization.