Linking Business Strategy + Employee Surveys: Eaton’s Best Practices [VIDEO]

By Perceptyx - May 22, 2019

Eaton Corporation, a large power management company with 99,000 employees, uses a continuous listening strategy to converse with its employees—but that wasn’t always true. In fact, the company’s decision to adopt this particular strategy, and incorporate employee survey best practices into the mix, makes for an interesting case study, which Mei Kim, Global HR Analytics Leader at Eaton, recently presented at the annual Perceptyx Innovation Conference. (If you’d prefer to watch rather than read, click on the video below.)


Eaton’s Former Employee Survey Practices

Eaton manages power for commercial businesses and operates in the electrical and industrial sectors. This dual-sector focus provides a competitive advantage, allowing Eaton to pair up or share research and leverage innovation from one sector to the other to produce innovative products.

But while this unique structure benefited Eaton in many ways, it posed a challenge in terms of employee surveys. Eaton was conducting census surveys every two years, and also measuring engagement, the onboarding experience, and inclusion and diversity. The problem was they were listening in silos, with different teams collecting data on their own. As a result, their approach lacked consistency in question design, themes surveyed, and survey methodology, and there was little communication or collaboration between the teams.

When CEO Craig Arnold joined Eaton, he realized the key to remaining competitive was to make the company think as one organization. This idea of a unified corporate culture was carried over into Eaton’s survey program and, with the help of Perceptyx, threaded throughout their employee survey best practices. The result: a new organization-wide continuous listening program that makes the most of the company’s ability to leverage research and innovation across both business units.

How Eaton Incorporated Employee Survey Best Practices

Eaton’s transition to a continuous listening approach focused on two things: 1) adopting employee survey best practices, and 2) incorporating the strategic goal of thinking as one organization.

Working with Perceptyx, Eaton zeroed in on the most important elements of the new strategy:

  • Adopting a survey plan that would support key organizational strategies.
  • Tracking the employee lifecycle from onboarding to exit.
  • Comparing responses across the board using the same or similar questions.
  • Focusing on outcomes.
  • Obtaining leadership buy-in.

The new strategy was launched with a “survey manifesto”: The survey team talked to company leadership and management before implementation, to communicate the purpose and reasoning behind the new approach.

Using a purposeful approach in thinking about each survey, the team started adding pulse surveys based on common threads and trends revealed by the census and other surveys they were already doing. The goal for each survey was to collect information about improvements that could be made to aspects of the employee experience critical to the company’s success:

  • Meaningful work
  • Employee empowerment
  • Employee growth and development
  • Creating and maintaining a winning company culture
  • Leveraging talent across sectors to create more innovation
  • Creating and maintaining an inclusive environment that enables employees to create the best solutions for customers

Working with Perceptyx, Eaton also created a framework for managers to help guide them in taking action. The continuous listening strategy was designed to avoid overwhelming managers with too much data; for this reason, Eaton developed an every-other-year cadence for their census surveys, to allow adequate time for taking action and communicating back to the organization.

Eaton’s Continuous Listening Strategy In Action

Now that the entire organization is on the same page with their survey and continuous listening strategies, Eaton’s analytics team pulls together insights from across all surveys, blending them with HR and business data, and linking them to business outcomes. They are now able to see connections between onboarding and exit survey responses and attrition, and spot trends that can be prevented or pre-empted early in the employee lifecycle.

The census survey functions as the engine of Eaton’s people analytics strategy, highlighting and generating themes important for Eaton’s business success as opportunities for additional research. Each potential area of research is subject to the “why, what, how, and who” model for evaluation:

  1. Why gather information? Does it relate to current business challenges, the trajectory of the business, or achieving leadership’s goals?
  2. What is the data needed to address those challenges?
  3. How should that data be collected and how often?
  4. Who are the owners of the data? What is their ability to absorb reports and act upon them?

Eaton’s expansion into a continuous listening program started with a pulse survey measuring the elements of an inclusive environment, because inclusiveness is of key importance to the company’s competitive strategy. After choosing the research topic, the team then focused on what information they needed, how to collect it, and who to ask for feedback. Since then, they have conducted targeted pulse surveys on the topics of strategic workforce planning and leadership competencies.

Why Perceptyx?

The team at Eaton found several advantages in the Perceptyx platform.

The quick reporting—including manager decks and action plans—is valuable because it allows them to move quickly into actions that tie back to their strategic goals. It also enables “aha!” moments, and lets them flag opportunities for further research. Coupled with continuous listening through targeted pulse surveys, this alerts them to seek more frequent feedback specific to important issues. Eaton is learning to think outside the box in its employee survey strategy, thanks to the flexibility of the Perceptyx platform. (Tweet this!)

Want to develop a continuous listening program that fits your company’s needs?

At Perceptyx, we start with customized survey question design to uncover the insights you need to address your business’ biggest challenges, and pair it with a continuous listening strategy that fits your organization. The Perceptyx platform collects and puts the data you need at your fingertips, organized in an easy-to-understand format with easy-to-use analytics and manager tools for action planning. With surveys and a listening strategy tailored to your company’s unique needs, Perceptyx helps you keep your finger on the pulse of your business.

Get in touch to learn how we can help you develop a continuous listening strategy that’s right for your organization.

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