Employee surveys are the worst, aren’t they? Filling out a questionnaire only to have nothing done with the feedback/information you’ve provided, no mention of a plan, no mention of how your feedback will be used to make the company (and your superiors/department) better and more aligned with what you want to see from your company.
It doesn’t have to be like this!
Having a clear path forward is ideal, isn’t it? But how do we get there?
Great questions, and we’ve got answers!
Analyze and interpret the results
Just because you asked a bunch of questions of your workforce doesn’t mean that the answers will be super clear.
Identifying any outlying reasons there may be some discrepancies in the answers (i.e. an employee who is super unhappy and took the survey right before leaving the company, a large contract was lost and it impacted a department/group/individual, etc.).
Also be sure to look at the number of respondents by department. Did one department have a higher response rate than others? Maybe you have a department or two that has significantly more employees than other departments.
Looking at the data from various viewpoints will allow you to identify specific wins or challenges either company- or department-wide. Start with the overall scores – how did you rank as a company and where are the larger areas of opportunity? Then look at the data on a department-level basis and ask the same questions.
Don’t take it personally, but also take it personally
A couple of the big blunders I’ve seen some companies make are they either dismiss the results as an industry-general temperament, or they take it so personally that they get mad about the results. In both cases, the employee survey became of no use to them, they tossed it aside, and their company and employees suffered because of it.
A leadership team should take these results personally in that they should want to be better by listening to their workforce, they should implement action plans that help increase employee morale and productivity, and they should hold themselves accountable to their workforce.
Also, a leadership team shouldn’t take it personally in that the results should not be viewed as a direct attack on anyone specific (unless the questions are designed that way, which in that case the questions should definitely be re-written).
The goal is to be better, to make happier employees, which makes happier customers.
Create a serious and realistic action plan
I add serious and realistic with emphasis because far too many times I’ve seen these action plans created and then tossed to the side because they aren’t ‘real’. The action items are too high-level that no one knows specifically what to do, or they’re too cumbersome that no one has the time to do them. I’ve also seen too many leadership get in the way of actually allowing their workforce to execute, bottlenecking the entire process – don’t do this, either.
A few tips to developing sustainable and actionable action plans:
- Assign the right person who has the authority to do the “thing” to that “thing”
- Ask for volunteers for different action items – the buy-in helps a lot
- Create teams to work on specific items
Let the workforce in on the plan…and don’t forget to thank them
Now that you’ve got a plan in place, one that is seriously attainable, let your workforce know! Let them know what your company is doing to make things better for them and what steps are being taken to ensure that their voice is being heard.
Give them specifics. Let them know what you found through the survey, what specific goals have been set, what departments are working on those action items, and exactly when you will be communicating updates to them. This will help your workforce continue to feel heard.
And then follow-through
The easiest thing to do is to push the plan aside for other, more seemingly, important things. While those other things are very likely really important, and maybe some are even life or death (okay, hopefully not life or death, but I think you get what I’m getting at), but so is the plan for your workforce. Make time for it.
A great way to keep everyone on track is through a shared tracker where each action item is listed, along with a variety of other info, such as: the owner of that item, the current status, next steps, bottlenecks, deadlines, check-ins, etc. Hold each person or team accountable for updating the tracker as things change, but especially by a pre-specified date and time so everyone knows and can see the updates in real time.
Holding a weekly (or more/less frequent depending on the action items) call with everyone to give status updates, call out anything that is out of the ordinary (needs to be adjusted, isn’t going to plan, is ahead of schedule, etc.), and discuss changes as a group.
Typically, most companies would want to re-evaluate yearly, but there are reasons to re-evaluate sooner or more frequently. It takes time to create and execute on an action plan, and the more involved a plan is, the longer it will likely take. And then you’ve got to let the changes work their magic, or not, over time.
Sometimes a workforce thinks they want something, either individually or collectively, but when they get what they’re asking for, it’s not as green as they thought it would be. When this happens, the leadership team/company also needs to be able to pivot and adjust to immediate, ongoing, or overwhelming feedback.
While there are a litany of other steps, processes, and ideas that could have been included here, this is the basic outline. Without these steps, your employee survey will fall flat, the morale among your workforce will suffer, and you’ll find yourself in a worse situation that you started in. The moral of the story – if you’re asking for your employee’s feedback, be sure to follow-through.
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