Employee engagement surveys can do a lot of good. When employees and managers discuss the results, these conversations can lead to increased engagement, productivity, and profits while reducing turnover and costs. If you’ve recently run an employee engagement survey and received detailed feedback from your people but are wondering ‘now what?’ read on.
It’s tempting to immediately dive into making changes — after all, you didn’t run the survey just for fun, and you want employees to know that you hear them and value their input.
However, if you jump into making changes without deeply understanding what the results of your employee engagement survey are telling you, you risk creating as many new problems as you fix.
It’s important to approach this with the same thoughtful mindset you’d use when developing your company’s next quarterly financial plan.
By following the eight steps below, you can ensure that you get the most value out of your survey results, and that the changes you implement based on those results address the issues your employees have brought to your attention.
8 Steps to Responding to Employee Survey Results
1. Review Results
When employee engagement survey results become available, the first step is to share them with your executive team.
When you sort results and drill down into team data and experience by demographic, executives can learn things like which groups are having an inconsistent experience with impartiality and equity. When you take this more granular look at data, executives get a clearer picture of what employees are telling them.
Leaders must take time to review and internalize feedback before they jump into action.
Feedback provides essential insight into a company’s leadership and the experience of employees. It can be hard to hear, but it can also be the most valuable tool for improvement if leaders learn from it. Encourage leaders to take time to absorb and process employee feedback before going any further.
3. Align & Set Intentions
Once leaders have had time for reflection, the executive team should meet again to discuss the data and how they plan to proceed.
Ideally, executives communicated with employees about the survey before sending it out, so employees understand the purpose and expected outcomes of the process.
It’s easier to maximize the full value of the employee engagement survey results when executives share a clear understanding of what their ideal company culture is and where the gaps are.
Consider the following factors:
Does everyone in the organization have a clear picture of your desired culture? Can employees connect that picture to the company’s values and how the values help achieve this culture?
Do employees understand how your desired culture helps the company accomplish its mission?
Do leaders understand what expectations your desired culture creates for them and their leadership style? Do people processes reward desired leadership behavior while also holding leaders accountable?
Do leaders understand the connection between survey results and employees’ perceptions and expectations of leadership?
4. Provide Transparent Communication
Your organization’s initial reaction to the survey sets the tone for how you go about taking action.
Many of the Best Workplaces™ roll out survey-driven changes using a cascaded approach. This process often begins with an organization-wide communication from the CEO that might share high-level results, thank employees for their participation and commit to taking action.
Next, leaders at all levels take the opportunity to discuss results transparently with their teams, ideally in a way that shares more relevant details about organizational and departmental level results and allows for an open dialogue to begin.
5. Conduct Listening Sessions
Leaders at all levels can conduct listening sessions with employees in order to gain more specific insight to make meaningful improvement throughout the organization.
Whether leaders choose to do this with informal brown-bag lunches or more formal meetings, documenting the meetings and letting employees know how leaders will be following up ensures they understand what comes next and shows them how important this process is to you.
6. Target Areas for Improvement & Establish Specific Plans
It’s often best to target one or two areas of focus to make lasting improvements.
Often, one area is identified as an organization-wide focus with the second area specifically relating to department/leader level results. The best strategies focus on how management is leading.
For example, survey results that reflect improvement opportunities in communication may indicate a need for meaningful dialogue (asking questions, being present, eye contact) rather than a need for more meetings and emails.
Common Practices for Leaders:
Target one or two areas of improvement and ensure areas are actionable
Get employee input and feedback by asking questions like:
- Which areas would make the greatest positive impact to their experience?
- What does “great” look like in this area? Have them share an example of when it was happening at its best.
Document and communicate plans or commitment for improvement (be specific and include measures of success)
Engage a peer, a coach, or leader as an accountability partner that leaders regularly connect with for advice and support
Now, it’s time for your patient, methodical approach to employee engagement surveys to pay off. Roll out your people practices and programs.
You’ve taken a data-driven approach and infused it with employee input throughout the process. Feels good, doesn’t it?
8. Evaluate Progress
To demonstrate your commitment to taking meaningful action, and to make sure that your changes are having desired effects, continue to communicate with your employees.
A few ways to do this:
Pulse surveys to measure progress on areas of focus
Follow up listening sessions to gauge progress and seek more feedback
Department meetings to discuss progress and get feedback by asking questions such as:
- Are you experiencing improvement in this area?
- What is working? What are examples of where this is happening well?
- What additional ideas for improvement would you recommend?
Built on 30 years of research and used by over 10,000 organizations around the globe, our employee engagement platform will help you drive positive change to your company culture. Learn more today.
About Great Place to Work®
Great Place to Work® is the Global Authority on Workplace Culture. We make it easy to survey your employees, uncover actionable insights and get recognized for your great company culture. Learn more about Great Place to Work Certification.