Over three-quarters of employers aren’t getting good or useful results from their employee surveys. A few changes can make a big difference.
If they’re done right, employee engagement surveys can provide a wealth of information. However, too often these efforts are poorly planned or executed. As a result, they elicit little real information; or, worse, they provide feedback that is misleading or unclear. In fact, some research suggests that up to 78% of companies aren’t getting good results from their surveys. Read on to find out how you can make your employee engagement surveys more effective and useful.
According to 3,000 responses from HR executives, 34% of organizations haven’t regularly surveyed employees. A third (31%) say they conduct regular surveys, but their scores haven’t changed significantly over time. Nearly one-fourth (22%) say their survey scores have improved dramatically, and only 13% say their scores have declined.
In fact, there is good news and bad news in each of these results:
- Declining scores. Most commonly, scores decline because employers survey employees, then don’t act on the results. It is important to provide employees with feedback on surveys, then some follow-up on what the employer will do to address key concerns or issues. Consider putting together a broadly representative group of employees to analyze the engagement survey data and suggest solutions and actions.
- Steady scores. This could mean simply that engagement efforts are working. However, it also could mean that the survey is stale and/or that employees don’t really take it seriously. Adding or changing questions can help make the survey results more accurate and useful. For instance, don’t just ask “yes” or “no” questions. Include a mechanism for thoughtful input. If you ask “Do you trust your boss?” follow up with open-ended questions about how to improve trust and what makes employees trust leadership.
- Lack of surveys. You may think that no news is good news; but avoiding negative feedback doesn’t make it go away. Instead, it is likely to result in turnover and disengagement. Even negative feedback can be empowering because some problems are likely to have easy fixes and others can be addressed with some effort over time. Don’t put it off any longer. Start planning a survey today, and let employees know that you care about their insights and feedback.
- Improved survey results. This is good news, but make sure you’re not getting false positives. Significantly improved results after a complete survey makeover are not uncommon. Just make sure you’re not asking questions in a way that is designed to get positive answers. At the same time, don’t depend solely on your surveys for employee feedback. Conduct focus groups, have open-door policies for management, and seek input at meetings, performance reviews, etc.
Some tips to create a viable survey include:
- Don’t ask a question if you are unwilling or unable to fix a situation.
- Avoid vague questions that don’t really provide much or any useful information.
- Think beyond the 5-point Likert scale. Employee survey results are likely to have less variability than a broad study, and results can be skewed. A 7-point scale can give you broader data and more valid measurements.
- Increase the frequency of surveys. While you don’t want to inundate employees with surveys, seeking information once annually is inadequate to assess year-round morale.
- Limit the number of questions. Consider asking 10-20 questions each month on a different topic. Keep the process fresh, fun, and easy for employees to ensure their honest input.
Elsewhere, employers are increasingly using artificial intelligence to help track employee engagements by:
- Analyzing emails and biometric data to track the sense of belonging among employees, identify problems, and target ways to create a more engaging workplace.
- Taking the bias out of employee survey questions.
- Customizing benefit offerings according to individual employees’ needs and interests.
- Tracking employee engagement in real time so that problems can be identified and addressed promptly.
This data can be used to create dashboards managers can use to keep their finger on the pulse of what people are thinking and feeling. At the same time, management can analyze historical data to create models for employee engagement and revise these as new information comes in.