Data is a wonderful thing! Used well, it can yield incredible insights and lead to measurable improvements. The sticky part though is that turning results from a survey into something that is clear and actionable isn’t always easy or straightforward. So if you’re investing time and resources into collecting information you want to know how to use it and analyze it effectively. We’ve put together some tips for doing just that.
Short, regular surveys can yield a wealth of information. They promote engagement, allow managers to keep on top of mood and morale, give employees a voice, and can facilitate effective change. Some organizations use a daily pulse survey – one question every day about a wide range of topics – and others use more structured surveys delivered on a regular schedule (weekly, monthly, or quarterly).
Whatever type of survey you choose, the key is to use surveys as a way to stay in touch and to remain responsive to what is going on in the here and now. For example, with all the organizational change arising from the pandemic organizations that waited for a pre-scheduled, annual survey likely missed out on key information that would have helped them tailor their response to issues like remote work, isolation, and stress.
Beware of Survey Fatigue
As with everything in life, balance is key. Asking employees to fill out too many surveys is just as disadvantageous as not asking enough questions. Finding the right cadence for your organization will improve your ability to gather reliable data and encourage high rates of participation.
This cadence depends on the ease of the survey being delivered. A one-click pulse survey is less likely to lead to fatigue than a weekly survey that requires time and attention to answer. Frequency also depends on what is going on in the current environment. During significant change events like expansion, moving or a merger, more frequent surveys may be necessary. The key is to recognize the importance of gathering data and having an arsenal of survey types you can use to gather information.
Prepare to Benchmark
One of the reasons why surveying regularly is so important is that it allows you to build insights over time. When you survey consistently you can use your initial data as a benchmark and then monitor changes, identify patterns, and potentially use these to predict future behaviour. Benchmarking also allows you to compare to external sources when you are using similar metrics.
Ask the same questions, in the same way and analyze the results consistently to build a database of measurements you can track and analyze through time, with different employee groups, and during different stages of a change process.
Surveys have to make a difference otherwise people will stop participating. This starts with communicating results. By sharing these results you encourage discussion which allows for further insights into the way the questions were asked, how employees feel about the survey process, and brainstorming ways to improve and potentially what questions to ask in the future. This sharing process alone creates stronger connections between employees and their managers and leads to improved morale and engagement.
Take some time to present the findings in ways that are easily digestible. Visual presentation through charts and graphs makes the raw data interesting, accessible and easy to explain. It also lends itself to comparison with benchmarked data. Talk about the insights you’ve gained as well, and help employees understand why you are asking the questions, what connections you see between different data points, whether you note any correlations or causations, and introduce recommended actions arising from the data.
Recall we talked about survey fatigue … this happens when people are surveyed too much, when the surveys take too much time to complete or, most importantly, when they feel their participation isn’t worth it because it’s not leading to any meaningful change. This creates a ‘knowing-doing gap” where you know what is happening and what you can/should do to improve but aren’t putting the lessons into practice. When employees experience this gap they become disillusioned, disengaged and unmotivated.
As you prepare to present the data to your people pay attention to the big picture and discuss how leaders at all levels can act on the feedback. Combine this with any further insights gained when you communicated results with employees and create an action plan. Choose a few, key actionable elements where you will be able to demonstrate measureable progress. Focus on improving those key elements. Communicate with your people and keep them updated on the progress.
Communication is key – make sure it is timely and focussed on results. Stay positive, look for ways to incentivize improvements, address obstacles if they arise, regroup as necessary, and re-survey at regular intervals to assess the impact. Rinse and repeat for consistent, long-term improvements.
Using survey data effectively helps you engage with your people, it gives them a voice and it provides key insights and a holistic view of what is happening within the employee population in order to improve and enhance the overall experience for them and improve their performance. If you’re not already using the Great Place to Work survey as part of your engagement efforts, reach out to us to learn how we make it easy to survey your employees, uncover actionable insights and get recognized for your great company culture.
About Great Place to Work®
Great Place to Work® makes it easy to survey your employees, uncover actionable insights and get recognized for your great company culture. Clients apply our insights, advice, and tools to fuel the vision, decisions and actions that drive business performance.
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