Employers love surveying their employees. Surveys are a great way to gather copious amounts of feedback regarding a variety of topics—workplace wellness initiatives, corporate culture, employee engagement, healthcare benefits, event themes, food and office supply needs. You name it, and some company somewhere has likely surveyed their employees about it.
Organizations that successfully survey employees experience important benefits, such as increasing retention, identifying strengths and weaknesses in management practices or organizational policies, improving culture, and gathering ideas for future products or service lines.
But the rub about workplace surveys is that they are perceived as useless and a waste of time. Why? Too often, employees don’t see any change take place based on the survey results, so–through no fault of their own–they assume nothing happened. It’s a logical assumption if there’s no followup from management.
If you genuinely want to survey your employees about an important issue, here are six necessary steps to take when designing the survey and executing on feedback you receive.
1. Have leaders commit to listening to and acting on the feedback. If you don’t have buy-in from the leadership in your organization, don’t bother asking for employee feedback. It’s as simple as that.
2. Consider involving a professional. Many organizations offer assistance for designing employee surveys, as well as implementing the results. If your organization is new to asking for feedback (or perhaps you’ve botched a survey in the past), you may want to enlist professionals who know how to wade through the information and can help design an action plan based on the results.
3. Market the survey. Sounds funny, but successful surveys require notice. You need to give employees ample warning about the survey, why you’re conducting it, and what you hope to gain from it. If you’ve conducted the same one before, remind employees what the results and subsequent actions were to demonstrate commitment and utility. Be advised about the expectations you set, though; you want to communicate that all feedback will be considered, but don’t promise that action will be taken on every item.
4. Keep things simple. Aim for a survey that will take about 10 minutes to complete, and include a mix of rating scale and open-ended questions. Make sure you aren’t asking employees to answer questions in ways that could identify them; that will only lead to dishonesty or incomplete surveys. To encourage participation, consider offering an incentive for completing the survey.
5. Hold leaders accountable for the results. If you’re going to ask employees to spend time answering questions honestly about what’s happening at your company, you need to involve leaders in the conversation about why employees responded the way they did and determine how to address any issues that arise.
6. Create an action plan based on the results. Make sure you focus on the most important pieces of feedback. You may get several comments about things to change, but you’ll want to prioritize the ones that will have major impact throughout your organization and on the particular initiative you were surveying employees about in the first place. Consider creating a committee of employees from as many different departments as possible to develop and implement your action plan. Doing so will demonstrate management’s commitment to progress and change based on the survey results.
The bottom line of workplace surveys is not just conducting them regularly, but actually acting on the information gathered. Employees want to know their time and input is valuable, and the best way to illustrate that is by taking the feedback they provided in a survey and creating a plan to make improvements throughout the company.
Don’t be afraid to set goals and measure your success; your employees will appreciate the transparency. Plus, they’ll be more likely to participate in future surveys if they know you truly care about their feedback and doing something with it.