Action Planning - A Critical Component of Successful Employee SurveysBoth extensive research and Insightlink's own experience with clients have demonstrated that, after an employee survey has been conducted, employees are much more interested in seeing action taken than they are in seeing the results of the employee survey. In fact, employee surveys have little or no value if nothing is done to make improvements at the organization.
This is why successful action planning is a critical component of successful employee surveys. Insightlink is committed to providing our clients with the tools and help they need to create effective Action Plans that are customized for their organizations specifically. All our 4Cs Employee Survey clients receive a copy of this Action Planning Workbook along with our analysis.
The Steps to Successful Post Employee Survey Action Planning
As summarized in the Workbook, the key steps to take following any employee survey are to:
Guidelines for Data AnalysisAll Insightlink 4Cs reports include "quantitative" results, which are the numerical responses to all of the rating scales (such as "extremely satisfied," "very satisfied," "somewhat satisfied," "not very satisfied" or "not at all satisfied") in your employee survey, and "qualitative" or "open-ended" results, which are the written comments made by your employees on questions such as what they like best and like least about working at your organization.
Here are some simple guidelines for analyzing your 4Cs quantitative results:
At Insightlink, we use "top two box" scores on many of the scale measures as a useful and effective method for summarizing substantial amounts of employee survey data. Here is a useful framework for interpreting "top two box" results:
90% or more = A highly meaningful favorable response
75% - 89% = A very meaningful favorable response
65% - 74% = A somewhat favorable response
35% - 64% = A result that requires further study and context
25% - 34% = A somewhat unfavorable response
10% - 24% = A very meaningful unfavorable response
Less than 10% = A highly meaningful unfavorable response
This framework is for guidance only. When reviewing your own Insightlink 4Cs employee survey findings, you also need to compare your results with the relevant industry benchmarks. For example, you may not be surprised to learn that overall satisfaction with pay among all employees is much lower than overall satisfaction with their jobs! This is what we mean by analysing your results in context, not in isolation.
Analysis of Qualitative/Open-Ended Responses from your SurveyWhile open-ended questions provide an opportunity for self-expression, the analysis of such questions can be difficult and is somewhat risky. At the same time, though, your open-ended responses can really help you understand your quantitative Insightlink 4Cs employee survey results.
When reading through the comments made by your employees, it is important to look for the main themes by paying attention to the ideas and comments that are repeated, rather than focusing or getting caught up on the outrageous "extremes" or "outliers." Also, watch for good suggestions and specific explanations for why things are they way they are, because these will help you better understand your opportunities for improvement. We also cannot stress enough to never try to guess the author of a comment or use comments for reprisals. It is essential that all employee comments are and must remain anonymous.
Effective Goal SettingGoal setting is critical to successful action planning, since effective Action Plans cannot be established without knowing the end result you want to achieve. In deciding what goals to set for your organization and/or your own department, site or functional unit, ask yourself:
All goals established for Action Plans should be divided into three categories:
Also, you should record the goals that cannot realistically be handled at the site level or cannot be tackled at this time. You need to let your employees know what these goals are and why they cannot be addressed now. Recording them will serve as a reminder that they are still outstanding and should be re-examined again in the future.
Goal Setting PrioritizationEach goal set should be analyzed via S.M.A.R.T. before it can be incorporated into an Action Plan:
Establishing a Target for Overall Job SatisfactionOne of the key goals of any action plan should be to increase overall job satisfaction, since the impact of higher job satisfaction extends beyond employee attitudes to affect such factors as lower employee turnover, greater operational efficiency, higher customer satisfaction and even improved financial performance.
Projecting the impact of your Action Plan(s) on overall job satisfaction needs careful consideration. Setting too low a target may diminish the potential returns, while an unrealistically high goal can lack credibility and affect confidence in the survey process.
Based on Insightlink's experience, overall job satisfaction increases an average of 7 percentage points between surveys. This result can be used as the basis for establishing your own anticipated increase. Remember, though, that the more committed you are to taking action, the more effective that action will be!
Tips for Successful Action PlanningAction Planning refers to the steps, tasks and processes involved in implementing sustained change at an organization based on employee survey results. Action planning should occur after (1) an employee survey has been conducted at an organization and (2) the employee survey data has been collected, analyzed and summarized. You need the survey results to act as the foundation for your planning.
To ensure successful Action Planning, you should:
While the planning stage is important, the real key to make action planning successful is ACTION. Implementing your Action Plans is essential if you want to see improvements in the overall results at your organization.
Action Planning should be conducted in a timely manner. On the one hand, you should not react so quickly when you get your employee survey results that you cannot give careful consideration to the planning process but, at the same time, you need to avoid taking so much time as to lose momentum. Do not let your employees believe that their participation in the survey process was in vain.
Furthermore, the best organizations broadcast their progress and successes to all employees at every step of the process. Not only does this step ensure that Action Plans get implemented - because they have been made "public" - but employees can also see that the actions taken link directly back to the results of the employee survey. This approach helps to ensure that employees clearly recognize the value of participating in an employee survey.
When preparing your Action Plan(s), you need to decide the following for each action item you select:
Employee Focus GroupsEmployee focus groups are one of the tools available to help get additional input and feedback from employees, including additional explanations for the findings (such as "What is wrong with our employee recognition program?") as well as meaningful recommendations for change (like "What would an effective recognition program include?"). Focus groups, however, should only be used for collecting information and ideas from employees and should not be used to provide information to them, because it would be unrealistic to get all of your employees into a focus group!
The primary benefits of employee focus groups are that they can help you:
Preparing Action PlansSince no individual can be responsible for all aspects of the Action Planning process, we strongly recommend recruiting individual Task Forces for each of your organization's major opportunities for improvement. Task Forces can be a very effective method for both designing and implementing Action Plans.
The goal is for Task Force members to work together as a team over a few months to:
The anticipated time commitment from Task Force members is generally about 5 hours per month over a 3-6 month period. Ideally, look for Task Force team members who:
Each Task Force should hold regular Action Planning meetings, which should focus on setting goals and deciding on viable action items. Some useful tools and tips for effective goal setting are:
Each Task Force needs to be responsible for producing a written Action Plan that specifically outlines what specific action items will be implement to address the goals agreed to by the Task Force. For this step, each action item needs to include the following:
Tips for Successful Action Plan ImplementationOnce Action Plans have been prepared and approved, the implementation process needs to be carefully monitored and assessed. Here are some helpful thoughts to consider when implementing Action Plans:
Communicating Action PlansAccountability is one of the most crucial ingredients when implementing Action Plans. Without accountability for implementing each Action Plan, little or no organizational change will occur. Employees often experience a sense of chaos and uncertainty when their organization begins to make changes to its current systems and practices, even when those changes are meant to improve the overall work environment. As a result, you need to develop a communications strategy in conjunction with your Action Plan and to assign someone responsibility for implementing the communications plan.
Once an Action Plan is set, the plan sponsor and/or the applicable Task Force should host meetings with the qualified employees to present and discuss the Action Plan. These meetings should focus on three simple topics:
As the implementation process unfolds, it is also important to send periodic updates to employees regarding the status of each major Action Plan item. This communication will lend additional credibility to the survey process by reminding employees that the ideas, suggestions and concerns they expressed were clearly heard and are being acted upon. Just as important, this periodic communication will increase the accountability of those responsible for carrying out the Action Plan.
Encourage your employees to recognize the value of their participation in the survey process by regularly seeing both improvements and progress reports. Remember to share successes so that organization-wide communications can reinforce everyone's efforts and contributions to the process.
Measuring Results and Celebrating SuccessesYou can monitor and quantify the progress and success of your Action Plan by measuring employee perceptions of the changes within the organization. Typically, this is conducted through a follow-up, "post wave" employee survey, instituted between 12 and 24 months following the previous survey. At the same time, be sure to publicly acknowledge the achievement of Action Planning milestones as they occur. Regularly recognize the effort and good work that people put in to make change happen. Celebrate results not only in employee communications but also by acknowledging achievements publicly, such as hosting a pizza party with the Task Force or by finding ways to incorporate these achievements within your organization's Employee Recognition Program.
Closing the LoopIn our experience, the most effective employee survey Action Plans are those that are "home grown" rather than developed externally. Plans that are created by an organization are much more likely to be embraced by that organization. This is not to suggest, though, that organizations shouldn't look for assistance with this planning, which is the impetus behind our 4Cs Action Planning Workbook. We also conduct planning seminars or webinars to help those responsible for Action Planning become more comfortable and proficient with the guidelines and processes we recommend.
For more information about Employee Survey Action Planning or to learn more about Insightlink's 4Cs Action Planning Workbook, please call us at 866-802-8095 ext. 705 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today.
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