In several previous posts (this one, too), we’ve addressed the issue of the employee engagement survey which, once completed, disappears into a black hole, never to be referenced again. At least that’s how it may feel from the employees’ perspective, if the last time they hear about a survey is when they are asked to complete it. Not sharing employee engagement survey results may result in employees questioning, "is the survey being taken seriously or was it just a formality?" or, "why bother filling it out next time if the information doesn’t go anywhere?" or even, "Why am I being kept out of the loop; were the results really that bad?" Failure to share results can erode trust and open communication, the very thing the survey was intended to encourage.
Employee engagement surveys are often described as “listening” programs in HR circles, meaning that surveys are intended to allow employees to communicate with management. If that is the case, failure to acknowledge that a survey was conducted sends the opposite message: “We aren’t listening; we don’t hear you.”
In this post, we’ll be looking at the importance of follow-up in the survey process, what information from surveys should be shared and with whom, the best way to share that information, and why the follow-up should be considered at least as important as conducting the survey itself.
Sharing Employee Engagement Survey Results Starts With “Thank You”
Thanking those who have taken the time to complete a survey may be the easiest step in the entire survey process, so it’s amazing how often it is overlooked. Analyzing the data collected in a survey takes some time, and developing an action plan to address issues revealed by the data takes even longer, so it’s important to follow up shortly after a survey has concluded by thanking those who participated.
In a well-executed survey, enough data is available at the completion of the survey program to generate a short thank you message that includes information about response rate, timing for next steps, and any immediate actions prompted by survey responses that are being implemented. This message can be delivered by the CEO, the CHRO, or the project manager in charge of the survey, and may take the form of a brief video or a message delivered via intranet or other channels in addition to email. Consider reinforcing the thank you message with a similar message from site, team, or department leaders.
Thank you messages are just one small part of an overall communications plan for the survey, but they are important for keeping the momentum going between the conclusion of the survey and the formal presentation of employee survey results. Just as important, everyone appreciates being thanked—so don’t miss out on this easy opportunity for fostering engagement and building trust.
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The Executive Employee Engagement Survey Results Presentation
Typically, after a survey is completed and the results are analyzed, there will be multiple survey results presentations, each focused on the results most pertinent to individual leaders, locations, or departments. The presentation process will begin at the executive level; this overarching discussion of the results and consensus on next steps will help inform subsequent presentations.
The executive employee engagement survey results presentation should be part of the project plan from the beginning. Scheduling the presentation date in advance, before the survey is conducted, will help keep the momentum going after the survey is completed by employees.
The presentation schedule should allow adequate time to both present the data and discuss the results, as well as any next steps to be taken in response. Focus on a few key areas including:
- A transparent overall summary of the results;
- Areas of strength and areas of concern as they relate to organizational goals, strategic priorities, and current initiatives; and
- A discussion to reach consensus on next steps and communications, define areas that may need further analysis, and set a timeline on rolling out lower-level presentations and company-wide initiatives in response to survey data.
Since engagement is the point, the presentation for sharing employee engagement survey results—at both the executive and the workplace level—should be designed to engage. Instead of a bland presentation of survey data, use an interactive workshop approach and annotate your deck with charts, visuals, or infographics.
Employee Survey Results Presentations
Sharing employee engagement survey results at the site, team, or department level is where the maximum potential for engagement occurs. These presentations should include the survey summary to help site, team, or department managers put local issues and priorities into context, but should otherwise be customized to address the survey results most pertinent to the department or location.
Local presentations need not include a review of the entire set of data. Consider instead a brief overview of the survey results most pertinent to the team, which is easier for managers to handle and more engaging for employees. A manager toolkit to help support survey goals can help keep things on track.
When sharing employee survey results, open communication is key. The best presentation examples open the door for discussion between managers and employees on potential follow-up actions. (Tweet this!) These can be supportive of corporate-level initiatives, or in addition to company-wide actions. Ultimately, all change happens at this level, so discussion and involvement here is critical for building true engagement.
Communicating Current Priorities to Manage Disappointment
It is equally important to address those survey findings where no action is currently planned. Sometimes, an issue that is of primary importance to one location or department—or even throughout the company—cannot be addressed at the current time. The company may be focused on higher priority actions suggested by the survey or may have several ongoing initiatives already underway. In this case, it’s important to let employees know their input was taken into consideration and action on the issue will be addressed at a later time.
The importance of presenting employee survey results at the site or department level cannot be overstressed, since that is where employees work and where engagement or disengagement occurs. Many times, there are distinct results that only apply within that local context, which the manager can and should address to take action on as well. Thus, a well-defined plan, manager toolkit, and manager coaching in presenting survey results not only help build engagement where it counts, but also demonstrate to managers that the work they put into getting the survey done is valued. Presentation and discussion of survey results will make it easier for managers to get employee cooperation in completing the next survey if it is clear to all parties that gathering the data is not the end point, but rather the beginning of a process for addressing issues and solving problems.
Following Up With Survey Updates
Once the survey results have been presented at both the executive and local levels, it’s important to follow up on action plans. The follow-up intervals may be three months, six months, or both. A three- to six-month follow-up window allows time for implementation and assessment of actions taken in response to survey results. The update is an overview of what has been done and why, and what will be done next.
Establish a schedule for monitoring follow-up activities and regularly review survey activities at executive or management meetings throughout the year, to prevent survey results from falling out of the conversation. Include information about follow-up actions and their impact and pertinent additional analysis. A regular update will keep executives engaged in the process, which is critical for maintaining a robust survey program that drives greater employee engagement and trust.
Finally, it’s helpful to always keep in mind why you are doing the survey in the first place. The data you compile from survey responses will give you a picture of the issues affecting employee engagement, but that is all it will do. Addressing those issues requires communication with employees and a focus on action. These, ultimately, are the drivers of employee engagement—not the data. A well-designed survey program built around communication and action is what makes collecting the data worthwhile.
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Knowing where to focus your engagement efforts can feel overwhelming. Perceptyx believes the path to greater engagement lies in the ability to identify and contrast the perspectives of engaged and disengaged groups. Every company and culture is distinct; there is no one size fits all approach to people analytics, so we deliver specific insights to uncover the unique barriers to engagement deep within an organization in real-time. As partner to more than 20% of the Fortune 100, Perceptyx helps the world’s largest and most complex multinational organizations improve employee engagement. Contact us today and see how we can put the power of data to work for your business!