A disengaged workforce can be one of the most toxic forces in company, and it is a silent killer lurking beneath the surface. Human resources departments might not be aware that there is an issue until employees begin departing or customer experiences drop.
To illustrate, how employee engagement impacts a company, let’s have a look at an extreme example. It is a well-known fact that employee turnover in the fast food industry is over 100% per year and one of the greatest reasons for this high turnover is a lack of engagement by the staff.
Fast food employees might not feel challenged in their role, and their only loyalty to their place of employment is a paycheck. As a result, as soon as an opportunity presents itself with more benefits in the way of challenges, schedule, and compensation or tasks the employee will immediately switch over to the new job.
Fast food managers might view employee retention issues as a necessary cost of doing business, but they are probably not aware that a disengaged employee can actually hurt the business in many ways. Employees who do not care about their job are far more likely to lose their temper at a customer or refuse to provide a minimum level of service.
While most companies do not have the same innate levels of employee engagement problems as a fast food store, the bottom line impact will continue to remain the same, if the workforce is not engaged. This issue should be resolved before it spirals out of control.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to an employee engagement problem because every workforce and employee is different. To discover the antidote to any particular employee engagement issue, you will have to determine the root causes of the problem and the best solution here, is to ask employees to share their feedback in an employee engagement survey.
Considering results of the survey, the HR department of a company will soon be able to discover if everything is great or there is critical problem that needs immediate resolution. Either which ways, a strategy has to be created, that goes beyond engagement scores and ranking. Also figuring out the why, behind the number and responses is critical.
Before even embarking on the survey process, choose the right tools. Paper surveys might be convenient to pass out, however it would require significant time to analyze the data. There are many online tools to help with the survey process, and even free versions of SurveyMonkey, FluidSurveys or Qualtrics could suffice.
Here are the top five best practices for planning, analyzing and utilizing an employee engagement survey:
1) Develop the Survey Strategy
When conducting an employee engagement survey, it is important to determine the measurements what, how and why. These need be decided when the survey is still at its drafting stage. In addition, during the survey creation process, some big questions need to be answered such as: What survey outcome will be shared with the stakeholders (e.g. management and HR)?
As we know, not all outcomes from the survey can be shared outside the confines of HR management teams.
What actions will the company initiate to address collected responses from the survey? While some of the intended actions need to remain a secret, there are advantages in sharing details on what management plans to do with the survey findings.
Displaying management buy-in right from the outset will increase response rates from the staffers, as they will be reassured that the feedback collected is put to planned execution for the change the employees wish to foresee.
2) During the First Analysis, Focus on What is Important
When a study is conducted there will inevitably always be verbose responses that perhaps might be hard to determine – whether they are positive or negative. While a lengthy comment about the state of the affairs in the company might seem valuable, it should not force the HR team to get distracted from the quantitative measures at the heart of the survey.
It is important to maintain focus on the survey objectives right from the start and avoid distractions of any kind. Free form comments are essential for learning insights, which could have been neglected from the initial survey plan. However, they should not take the spotlight away from any core engagement metrics.
3) On the Second Read Through, Identify Focus Areas
A survey when conducted right leaves behind a wealth of knowledge and action items. It is virtually impossible to address every action item and idea that comes up from the survey.
Hence, it is important to determine what is truly important by stack ranking the issues borne out the survey, and only tackle problems within the bandwidth range to derive at accurate solutions.
Trying to do everything at once will only overwhelm the team and can have a negative impact on engagement. Establish who or what the key drivers of employee engagement are, and those which are unique to the organization.
A company with older employees might discover that health plans and flexible work arrangements are important to the staff; while another organization might learn that having standing desks would be an easy win to improve employee happiness.
Focus on the specific drivers that will make an immediate impact, while also picking and choosing long-term objectives.
4) Post the Survey: Create an Action Plan
At an appropriate time, share results of the survey with the workforce along with a detailed action plan. Even if there are things, that the company is unable to offer, ensure that the employees are aware of their voices been heard.
Use the feedback from the survey to set employee management and company goals. Goals should be specific and time-bound in nature such that there is an impetus in making sure it is achieved.
For example, a good goal might be to make each employee meet with his or her manager at least weekly by the end of the year. A poor goal could be just to “improve engagement.” A goal like that would have no purpose since it is completely arbitrary and there is no deadline.
5) Integrate the Learnings and Maintain the Engagement Strategy. Rinse and Repeat!
Ideally, the process of survey could have proved beneficial and there were many areas of improvement identified. To ensure that the whole effort was not a waste, there should be a cadence of frequent and consistent surveys.
Employee engagement should be measured periodically. Especially, if a problem discovered needs immediate rectification management, employees should be awarethat the issues have been addressed and engagement is on the upswing.
If the company is working towards a specific goal frequent surveys should be conducted to check if they have accomplished goals set. An added benefit to frequent surveys is also that the survey practices will become more effective, as the human resources team gains more proficiency in launching and analyzing engagement surveys.
It might seem challenging to run an effective engagement survey, but the downside to not addressing poor engagement can be extreme. One way to get an easy head start is to use an employee engagement survey template, which at the least takes away the headache of needing to draft much of the survey.
By using template as a foundation, organisations can later add company specific questions that are more relevant. Remember the ultimate goal is to create an engaged workforce that will be happy, productive and customer focused, so make sure to get the best results from the survey.
Eli Schwartz, Director of Marketing-APAC for SurveyMonkey is the author for this content. Survey Monkey is the world’s largest online survey platform. Eli oversees SurveyMonkey’s marketing efforts in the Asia Pacific region. In addition, he leads the company’s global SEO efforts and strategies across 17 languages. SurveyMonkey serves over 25 million customers worldwide, including 99% of the Fortune 500, and collects over three million online survey responses daily.
Image credit: paradigmstaffing.com