Conducting an employee engagement survey is now a common practice for a majority of companies with 250 employees or more. In fact, 83% of respondents in our recent Trendicators report say their organization has conducted an engagement survey in the last two years. Engagement surveys are popular because they provide an opportunity to understand and analyze how employees feel about the workplace conditions that influence performance, loyalty and emotional connection to the organization. In our last blog, we discussed the importance of conducting an engagement survey, and this week we continue the conversation around administering one for your organization.
Rolling out an engagement survey is much more than another HR initiative. For one, it’s a diagnostic tool that links key business metrics and is designed to help business leaders understand their workforce. Therefore, the importance of gaining senior leadership and management buy-in is vital. Once they are onboard with the importance of conducting this analysis, it’s time to facilitate the deployment. But not just yet, you need a plan. Great intentions can run the risk of failure without a proper strategy in place, so here are my five best practices for administering an employee engagement survey:
Best Practice #1 – Determine survey frequency: We recommend that organizations conduct engagement surveys on a consistent basis. Requesting regular feedback shows employees that the organization cares about how they perceive their work environment. Engage2Excel recently released the Trendicators Report, “What Employees Think About Engagement Surveys,” and we discovered that when respondents were asked how frequently they felt their organization should conduct employee engagement surveys, the response varied widely on preferences for quarterly, semiannual and annually. Overall, the highest preferences were for annual surveys (32%).
Best Practice #2 – Find the right survey partner: While many organizations still take a manual, internal approach, our recommendation is to find a survey partner that offers a method and model that resonates with your organization - find a survey instrument that identifies your employee’s most essential wants from the organization. Many providers offer both valuable benchmark data and confidentiality, along with simple, flexible technology that makes the administration and analysis of the data easier to manage and act on - output that is consumable at all levels to help employees, managers and executives understand why you are doing a survey. Furthermore, ensure that your partner provides a scientifically valid survey instrument.
Best Practice #3 – Educate Managers: Your managers play a critical role in making sure the execution of the survey is seamless. They are the extension beyond HR and embedded in the business. Engaging managers early in the process with a short series of why engagement is necessary and an overview of the upcoming survey administration and their role in the process ensures you have buy-in throughout the organization. An additional tip – establish a survey ambassador network throughout the organization. Survey ambassadors are feet on the street and an extension of the core HR team administering the survey. Ambassadors can help promote the survey and answer questions from employees.
Best Practice #4 – Build excitement, credibility and trust in the process: This step is a big one. Prepare a comprehensive change management communication plan. The plan should support each stage of the survey and reinforce its purpose, explaining the expectations as a valuable organizational initiative, and align the survey to the mission, vision, goals and/or values of the company. Similar to educating your managers, communication to all employees from leadership can establish why the organization is conducting an engagement survey, inviting ALL employees to participate and communicating a commitment to review and follow-up on the feedback collected. Not only will this be important before the launch, but it will also be essential AFTER the survey has been administered.
Think of simple ways to encourage participation. Communicate that an engagement survey is an opportunity for employees to express their views, and they should feel like they can answer honestly and confidentially – this is where you can lean on your survey partner in your communications as they will be collecting the data.
Best Practice #5 – Flawless execution: The ultimate goal of prepping and launching an engagement survey is making sure every employee knows they have an opportunity to share their experience with the organization using this tool. Accommodating offline employees, monitoring participation, and being prepared for a time extension if response rates are low can go a long way in making sure this project goes off without a hitch.
What’s next? Now that you’ve done all the prep work, gained leadership buy-in and communicated to the organization, it’s time for deployment! As the organization is collecting the valuable feedback from employees, you can also begin laying the foundation for the most important part of any engagement survey – results analysis and action planning.
Stay tuned for our next blog where we tackle what to do with all that data and action planning.