Organizations are built around people, so creating a high-engagement work culture is essential for sustainable business success. In the last few years, more companies have started to benchmark employee engagement, hoping that this data will provide insights on how to be a better place to work. But, often employee engagement surveys lose steam after the initial data collection because no one knows how to act on the data, and so the results are left to collect dust until the next annual survey.
Here are five best practices for implementing a survey to make sure you get the most out of your employee engagement efforts.
1. KNOW WHAT YOU’RE MEASURING
Many organizations claim to measure engagement; however, few can provide a singular definition for the concept. This is a big red flag. You can’t measure anything scientifically, let alone change it, without first being able to define what it is.
ADVISA has synthesized decades of research to create a concrete and accurate definition of engagement, and then used this definition as the basis for developing our engagement survey:
Engagement is an internal motivational state to which people choose to opt in at work. We use the words “opt in” purposefully. Ultimately, employees choose to engage at work, and organizations must work to create the kind of environment that encourages the maximum number of people to opt in. Engagement is also characterized by three dimensions:
- Focus – Engaged employees stay present, in-the- moment, and focused on performing high
quality work and accomplishing organizational goals.
- Energy – Engaged employees put energy into their work. They are also an energy contagion; they
spread energy and engagement to others around them.
- Meaning – Engaged employees find meaning in and identify with their work and the
As a result of this motivation, engaged employees are high performing and put discretionary effort into their work.
2. RESIST THE TEMPTATION OF THE “DIY”
Building a survey seems simple on the surface, which tempts many organizations into building their own engagement survey. However, if you’ve gone down this path before, you’ve quickly realized that this becomes a trap. It takes a significant amount of time and science to build a high-quality survey, and for something that will touch every member of your organization, designing something in house actually presents a big risk.
How do we avoid leading questions?
How do we get honest responses?
How do we know if we’re asking the right things?
These are all important questions, and they speak to the reason you should have a partner who understands the science of survey design.
3. DEMAND SPEED AND VISIBILITY
After you’ve collected data, you shouldn’t have to wait months to receive the results. Between leadership changes, turnover, reorganization, and market shifts, a lot can change in a few months, and employee engagement is dynamic. To see the ROI on your engagement initiative, it’s important to act while the data is fresh. Quick access to your results is an absolute must when choosing the right partner. In fact, your turnaround time should be no longer than a month from finishing the survey. Make sure your partner can help you answer the “now what?” question that inevitability presents itself when data is returned.
Further, when looking at your engagement data, it’s important to be able to look at trends overall and to slice and dice the data into meaningful groups. Data should be divided based on factors like location, department, level, and generation. Looking at the data this way gives you visibility into micro-cultures within your organization and allows you to action plan for maximum impact. Beware the temptation to slice too finely, however. Digging too many levels deep can erode anonymity and trust in the process,
and cause analysis paralysis. Make sure your partner can help you identify the sweet spots that get the most meaningful insights.
4. COMMUNICATE RESULTS WIDELY
All too often, survey results remain a secret, only to be viewed by those in senior leadership positions. This lack of visibility decreases trust in the process and in leadership, and can actually make it more difficult to collect data from employees in the future. If you’ve asked your employees to take an engagement survey and provide you with honest feedback, it’s your ethical obligation to communicate survey results widely.
While not every employee needs access to every detail, providing some level of feedback and takeaway is essential. A good partner will not leave you with piles of data and no guidance for how to use it. Make sure your engagement survey partner plans to provide you guidance, recommendations and strategies for communicating and cascading data to the ends of the organization.
5. TAKE ACTION
Few things build cynicism faster than the combination of over-surveying and under-acting. Many engagement survey vendors will encourage you to collect survey data and pulse quarterly, monthly, and some even weekly! While rapid surveying can help you detect changes in real-time, I wonder what cultural changes people expect to see so quickly.
Engagement has to do with a real connection to the job and the organization and can only be changed through the hard work of building an intentional culture. This work doesn’t happen quickly, and REAL engagement can’t be shifted through quick fixes like company outings, more snacks or cool swag. So, rather than providing you with more relevant information, rapid surveying may only bring you increased administrative burden and cost.
The frequency of your surveys shouldn’t be dictated by the calendar, rather, it should be dictated by the work you’ve done to create change. Consequently, the most important part of any engagement survey process is what you do with the data. Having a partner that will help you create an action plan is vital for getting the most out of your engagement process.
ExactHire and ADVISA frequently work together to bring smart workforce solutions to mutual clients. To learn more about ADVISA’s DIALOGIC engagement survey and partnership process, reach out to start driving your high-engagement workplace today.
Erin Wood, M.S. is a Leadership and Organization Development Consultant at ADVISA, a leadership consulting firm that advises leaders on how to engage and develop their people for the long-term success of their organizations. Erin’s expertise includes deep knowledge of assessments, engagement, and using data to help businesses inform people strategy and solve business challenges. At ADVISA, Erin focuses on addressing business challenges and improving company culture through enhancing the areas of leadership development, employee engagement, selection, succession planning, and other talent management processes. Erin holds a master’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and is an active member of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.