For the most part, we’d be amused and horrified if our significant other spoke to us like this. So why would we talk to our employees this way?
The attitudes and concerns of your staff can shape the culture of your organisation and an employee engagement survey can be a vital instrument in bringing issues to the surface. Properly analysed results can provide the evidential basis for positive change, but so much can go wrong.
Badly designed employee engagement survey questions can trivialise, alienate and reduce what ought to be information-rich conversations to a tactless exercise in gathering data for the sake of it.
Surveys can be annoyingly formulaic, filled with the same questions organisations have been asking for years. Too often, they are so loaded towards management’s interests that the survey results end up being biased towards what leaders want to be important, while ignoring the real issues that employees want to raise. This only serves to re-affirm existing beliefs and prevent change.
At Qlearsite we have learnt that:
If you want your employees to be highly engaged, they need to know why a survey is happening so they can get on board with it. This is what makes pre and post-survey communications so important in building awareness and trust.
If the project team and senior leadership know the purpose but employees don’t, they won’t fill in the employee survey or they’ll provide poor data.
The most important thing in a good employee engagement strategy is trust. The survey is not an honest reflection of employee experience if employees don’t feel safe to share their honest opinions.
If people are not assured about data protection, they will assume they don’t have it. In our experience, you must make it clear in all communications that employee responses will be protected and kept confidential, otherwise response rates will be disappointing and the real truths will remain hidden.
Language is the best form of communication. When you’re trying to understand people in complex, real-world situations, responses should not be confined to a series of simple, closed, check-box questions.
Closed questions are still important for confirming what we already know to be true, but fail to capture the intricate nuances, sentiment and emotional complexity of working life.
Open-ended engagement questions and free text answers are opportunities for employees to respond honestly, which is vital for generating insights to drive meaningful change.
Using employee language analysis (NLP), we can reveal significant and undiscovered drivers of behaviour, including inclusion and engagement, which were not captured in closed-text questions. Our NLP can turn thousands of open text responses into key themes, yielding insights into sentiment, behaviours, risks and opportunities.
Asking 150 long-winded, irrelevant questions makes employees feel fatigued, which negatively impacts response rates. The more questions you ask, the less time on average your respondents will spend on answering each question. What should you include in your employee engagement survey? Key questions only.
Surveys should be interesting and not a huge demand on employees’ time. We use predictive analytics to identify which questions have strong correlations with behaviours, allowing us to strip out the non-predictive questions and cut question sets by up to 90%. Why ask if someone strongly agrees or strongly disagrees with a statement that has no impact on how they act? Why bother asking it?
In ordinary life, we give non-verbal and subconscious signals when we are listening. This approach isn’t scaleable if we want to listen to everyone in an organisation, but there are things we can do to simulate the experience of ‘true’ listening.
Finally and arguably most importantly, there’s no point asking someone how they feel and then doing nothing with it. Be accountable for the results and involve employees in the conversation. Evidence your own engagement with the survey and make it a process that employees want to be part of.
Next time you are preparing your employee engagement strategy, make sure that you follow these key tips to ensure you get data-driven, actionable insights.