One of the most powerful ways leaders can gain insights into what their employees are thinking and experiencing is with a well-crafted survey. These can be real eye openers for leadership and for companies that may not know where to start when it comes to an employee engagement strategy, a great first step. In our first post we talked about some of the rocks to peek under to ascertain the landscape of employee engagement. In this post we’ll talk specifically about one tool in your toolbox: the employee survey.
It’s no secret that some business leaders don’t care for surveys. There’s a perception that surveys are inherently skewed or that the results just aren’t reliable (or measurable) because employees use it as a complaint platform. While this might be the case for some surveys, we need to put the burden of value not on the tool itself but on the questions used. That’s the key. A great survey isn’t one that simply asks a lot of questions, it’s a survey that asks specific and relevant questions.
Business leaders can glean a host of valuable information from their workforce that’s both accurate and actionable by using the right survey questions. The tool is just that–a tool. It all comes down to how you use it.
At Smart HR, we place a high degree of importance on employee surveys and have had a great degree of success with them because we know what questions to ask (and how to ask them). Here are a few examples of the kinds of questions (paired with a rating scale response system) we might use in an employee engagement survey:
• I have enough information about what’s going on in this organization to do my job well
• I understand how my work fits into the overall mission and goals of the organization
• I understand how my work connects to the work of other departments
• I feel like the meetings I’m involved in are productive
• The formal annual review process is helpful to my professional growth
The bottom line is that it all comes down to communication, the heart and soul of employee engagement. Most organizations and employees can sort out problems, issues, challenges, and failures if the lines of communication are open and honest. This is true from a philosophical perspective but also from an individual-to-individual relational perspective (ex: supervisor to employee). The employee survey is one tactic in your communications toolbox and can help diagnose breakdowns in management communications and relations. Just a few more tips:
• Try to relate it to your company. Don’t make it abstract. Get specific
• Many organizations (surprisingly) have never done this. That’s ok, just start
• Don’t forget to address meetings (quantity/quality/etc.)
• Turnover is the ultimate measurement of poor engagement
• You have to be willing to challenge your own assumptions
• Don’t shy away from the hard questions and don’t be dismayed at negative responses
Remember that employee engagement isn’t just about the emotional and intellectual health of your team. Engagement translates directly into your company’s work product, client relations, business development, brand reputation and, ultimately, the bottom line.