While surveys are one among the popular ways to gauge employee sentiment and feedback how we share the results and findings makes the difference between action and apathy.
Very often we get caught up with in getting our surveys to be statistically significant by focusing on participation or persuading leaders to up the number of respondents. The survey results are relevant when we ask the right questions, are sensitive to respondents’ needs and ‘listen’ intently to what is being said.
Even a handful of responses are good enough to gauge how your staff feel and if they believe in your message. If employees have taken the time to share feedback it means they care for your organization and brand – which is a positive sign in itself.
Here are some recommendations that internal communicators and leaders can use to ensure outcomes from surveys make it beyond the inbox.
– Know how your audiences will receive the information: Your leaders will usually prefer a high level summary and recommendations as well as a clear roadmap and ownership for implementing recommendations emerging from the study. The results must give a plan of action as well as your perspectives on what might work. As an internal communicator you are closer to the action than most and it will inform leaders better if you can share the best way forward. You also have a responsibility of reporting out to those who took the survey. It goes a long way in building trust and ensuring you have a strong relationship for the future.
– Help teams avoid paralysis and inaction: Very often the volume of information and themes that come out of a survey can paralyze internal teams. Which themes are relevant? How does it match with the earlier studies? Are there are gaps which exist? What must we tackle first? Who will spearhead the implementation? How will be measure it? How will we communicate progress? There are many questions that make survey teams and leaders to avoid taking any action. Plan for such hurdles before the survey gets rolled out that way the waiting period is lesser and everyone is aware on how the results will be tackled.
– Communicating ‘not so great’ news: When the results of the survey are negative and employees voice their concerns directly it puts internal teams and leaders in a dilemma on reporting out. Be willing to tell it as it is and if employees have slammed your organization for policies or initiatives that didn’t work they are saying so to improve the system. It isn’t a reflection on an individual but and by not taking it personally internal communicators can objectively surface the core issue nagging staff. Employees will trust you more when you are honest about the results.
– Proactively identify trends and sentiments: Compare and contrast between earlier surveys if any. Think of other measurement metrics that may have a linkage to your current study and probe for issues that lie below the surface. Look at industry benchmarks that relate to your study. For example, if employees say compensation is an issue while they are highly engaged with the brand and your organization pays above par, it might be worthwhile to check if it is a perception that is playing up.
– Report out soon: The longer you delay communicating your results the more pressure it builds on internal teams to pinpoint issues that need resolution. The first responsibility is to acknowledge that you have got your employees inputs and you have identified top themes. Your team is sifting through the comments and data and will come back with concrete steps once you are ready. Again, give a timeline. It can’t be open ended.
– Be open about areas beyond your control: If your employees have asked or seek attention to areas that your team or organization doesn’t have a say then convey it immediately. For example, if the traffic in the city is a concern for employees to commute it is a macro issue that the government authorities need to address. Yes, your organization can do its bit by talking with the concerned parties and working out unique solutions that your employees can benefit from – using feeder buses to ferry people to the nearest location or arranging for Metro passes among others.
– Enlist staff and ‘crowdsource’ solutions: Survey feedback isn’t meant to be a ‘us vs them’ situation. Involve staff to think deeply about the issues they have raised. Invite them for focus groups to talk about the concerns. Form teams from different units to tackle the most pressing issues. Open a forum online to crowdsource ideas and solutions. Recognize employees who take the lead.
– Publish progress periodically: Have a recurring schedule to communicate the outcomes and progress made by teams on the findings. Track recommendations to closure. This will mean having someone program manage the implementation. Give employees an option of sharing their ‘fact finding’ missions on the ground and letting leaders know if progress is truly happening.
Lastly, avoid the ‘leadership walks’ to check on the impact since employees can feel intimidated if the leader drops by with a posse and asks if everything is going well! The employee will take the route of least resistance and say Yes!