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Is Your Employee Listening Strategy Set Up for Success?

If your organization is like most these days, you probably have a diverse mix of people working in a diverse mix of locations – some remotely, some in the office, and likely some portion across different geographies and time zones. In our increasingly remote-friendly times, a solid employee listening program becomes even more important. Knowing how your employees are doing or gathering information about your workplace environment is no longer as simple as walking through the halls, or talking to your team around the coffee machine. Companies now need to invest in a comprehensive employee listening program to see the full picture.

Designing and implementing an effective employee listening program is a multi-step journey – and one that has the potential for some significant missteps along the way. However, your organization can set its strategy on the right path by following the tips below.

Creating a Winning Employee Listening Program

Like any business initiative, a successful employee listening program starts with strategic planning that involves the right stakeholders and establishes a clear set of success metrics. From the earliest phases of your program, it's critical to communicate the benefits of listening to leaders and managers – personally, professionally, and to the larger organization – and enable them to serve as active participants and vocal advocates for your program.

However, even if HR and leadership do everything right in designing a listening program and ensuring all of the relevant stakeholders are involved, it can still fail if employees aren’t willing to participate. In order for data captured from surveys to be truly representative of your organization, your company must have a good response rate.

And there is a “sweet spot” when it comes to participation rates. If it’s too low, leadership may not be confident enough in the insights provided to use them in decision-making, but if it’s too high (close to 100% participation), leaders may fear that employees were less than truthful and therefore feel skeptical about using the information. The average response rate cited for employee surveys fluctuates depending on your source. Some have it as low as 30-40%, while others say 65-85% is ideal. At Perceptyx, our customers are generally at the top end of that spectrum, and we believe companies should strive for the 80% or above mark.

Of course, a successful employee listening program doesn’t end when the survey closes. Analyzing the results, uncovering key themes and takeaways, defining the actions that will lead to effective solutions, and then communicating and following through on those actions as a unified organization are just as critical as asking the questions.

Our research has found that of the organizations that enable their managers to identify issues and take action, 74% see improvements in engagement over time, compared to just 8% that survey but don’t act. Learn more about why acting is just as important as asking.

Additionally, you cannot assume employees understand what is being done or why certain decisions are made after a survey. You have to effectively communicate the who, what, when, where, and why when taking action from employee engagement survey results.

At Perceptyx, we recommend the below-mentioned tips when implementing an employee listening program that improves the employee experience and boosts business performance.

  • Start with an objective – Define specific goals for the listening program (e.g., create a culture of innovation, improve manager performance, or retain top talent). Tailor the survey questions to those goals and prepare to take the necessary action to accomplish them.
  • Involve the right stakeholders – Ensure the listening program is a collaboration between HR, leadership, and department/regional leads. Set clear responsibilities for each stakeholder.
  • Take meaningful action – Respond to employee feedback with actions that accomplish the goals of the listening program. Debrief department/regional managers so they can resolve the issues specific to their direct reports.
  • Understand the purpose of listening – Remember that listening isn’t meant to validate leadership performance or inform workforce and compensation planning. The purpose is to help employees succeed so the organization succeeds.
  • Communicate the intentions of listening – Share the goal of the employee listening program and the post-survey action plan with employees. Encourage them to provide candid feedback and be sure to effectively communicate that employee feedback will be heard, listened to, and acted upon.

Our goal is to help leaders and their people thrive by delivering the continuous insights and feedback needed to power business performance. Our advanced employee listening and people analytics technology, supported by the deep domain expertise and commitment of our consulting and customer service teams, are uniquely positioned to help you design and execute a winning people strategy. Get in touch and let us show you how.

Download the full guide to learn the “Top 12 Reasons Employee Listening Programs Fail,” how to avoid them and what you can do to become a successful listening organization.

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