A Guide To Successful Employee Survey Research, Part 3
Employee Survey Best PracticesOnce you've completed your preliminary review and have decided that some form of employee survey is the way to go, let's take some time to review these surveys in more detail, especially since they are the most popular type of employee research undertaken in the U.S. Based on our own experience and having been exposed to the best and worst practices, we will guide you through the process and offer you some useful tips and advice in planning an employee survey.
The Employee Survey "Issues Discovery" ProcessAs a first step, we find it helpful for the primary stakeholders at an organization to conduct a straightforward "issues discovery" process as a way of clarifying the employee survey objectives, raising possible areas of exploration that might not otherwise be identified and reinforcing commitment from senior management. As part of the process, we recommend getting answers to the following questions:
Deciding on the Approach: Census or Sample?Having defined your survey objectives, the next thing to consider is whether to include all employees in the survey - which would be a "census" - or just select a subset of employees - which would represent a "sample" approach. The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that a census survey is most appropriate for employee satisfaction or engagement surveys when the objective is to get feedback throughout the organization. This is particularly important if there is a need to drive through improvement action planning at local levels, since this means that frontline managers have to receive their own reports. By undertaking a sample survey, there may either be not enough responses to provide a report or the number of responses may represent too small a proportion of the whole employee population to be considered statistically robust.
Another advantage of a census approach is that it clearly demonstrates to all employees that the organization wants to hear from everyone. This reinforces the point that all opinions count and can prevent accusations that only "certain" employees were invited so that management would get the responses that paint them in the most positive light.
This is not to say that sample studies have no role in field of employee surveys but does emphasize the need for careful planning and communication to employees when a sample approach is used. Samples can be appropriate when conducting "pulse" or interim surveys or if there is need for feedback on a certain set of questions that don't require input from everyone.
Employee Survey Communication Best PracticesEmployee buy-in is critical to the success of the survey. If they believe that improvements will result from the survey, they are more likely to participate and to become actively involved in the follow-up improvement action planning process. Communication is critical to getting this employee buy-in, particularly at the outset of the program and we recommend developing an employee communications plan that covers the following stages:
Planning Guide for Employee SurveysThe following table outlines some of the key messages that should be communicated at each stage of the employee survey process:
Post Survey Action Planning CommunicationsIt is the period right after completing an employee survey that is the most important for determining the appropriate action, letting employees know what action is being taken and then confirming what improvements have been made in direct response to their feedback. We strongly believe that effective action planning is the most important part of the survey process, especially since many employees believe that little or no improvements are generated from employee surveys (and this can often be based on real experience!)
However, the perception that little action has been taken often is not true. Lack of awareness of improvements among employees, or their inability to link the improvements back to the survey, lead them to believe that nothing positive is happening. Many organizations make little attempt to link positive changes in policies and procedures back to their original source - the employee survey findings. This is the stage that we call "closing the loop" by reminding your staff that the action being taken is because of the information they shared.
Branding the survey and subsequent action planning activity with a name and/or a logo is an excellent way of raising the profile of an employee survey program. In this way, employees can connect the results of improvement actions back to how they responded in the survey. A short-form name or acronym can help make your employee survey more memorable, especially if the name or acronym is used consistently throughout the survey process.
4Cs EMPLOYEE SURVEY
ARTICLES & GUIDES
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