We recently carried out our first Employee Engagement Survey and it’s fair to say the results were full of insights.
That fact alone is enough to justify the not-inconsiderable number of hours spent across the company coordinating and completing it.
There were a few surprises and we learned a huge amount about what we’re doing right and what we can improve.
So let’s get straight to it - here are six lessons we learned from our Employee Engagement Survey. You’ll probably find many of them are reasons you should carry out one of your own:
Prepare yourself for some responses that will hit you like a curveball. There will probably be a mix of pleasant and not-so-pleasant surprises but - as we mentioned above - this is a great reason for doing your EES. Only by first diagnosing what you’re getting wrong can you start the process of fixing it.
And this is ultimately a good thing. As part of the human species, we’re prone to a multitude of cognitive biases, one of which is egocentric bias. Egocentric bias is the tendency to rely too heavily on our own perspective. In the context of understanding your company, it’s the mother of false assumptions.
You might falsely assume that your employee will tell you (or their manager) what’s on their mind regardless of whether or not they are actively given a chance to express themselves. Another false assumption might be that your employees know the roles and objectives of the other departments across the company. On a more basic level, it’s possible you’re falsely assuming that your teams are far more closely aligned with each other than the reality.
Another assumption that may be exposed as erroneous by the results of your Employee Engagement Survey is that your employees can see clear paths for their career progression within your organization.
If you’re an executive, you’re likely to have both:
So that some of your employees cannot see the opportunities that are in front of them may come as a surprise to you. But do not let this stop you from taking the revelation seriously, and taking action to rectify it.
Make sure managers are having regular 1-to-1s with their team members and that part of the time is made up of discussing their career progression and ambitions and how they can be met within your company.
This is likely to have the double benefit of motivating and engaging employees, as well as reducing turnover as promising team members realize their ambitions can be fulfilled where they are and remain loyal for longer.
Promoting from within where possible will add visibility to their stories and give entry-level employees important role models.
Managers and team leaders may be getting critical feedback from their teams that is not reaching you. It may be that it gets lost or forgotten in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day activities, especially if you don’t make schedule time to solicit that feedback. There could be things managers and team leaders are reluctant to express to you for a variety of reasons.
Either way, the survey will give everyone in the company the chance to share their critical feedback, concerns and insights directly with you. This is invaluable. You may think you have the mechanisms in place for that to happen, all-hands meetings or similar for example, but the anonymity provided by the survey will mean many employees feel free to speak more frankly, without the fear of their colleagues’ or managers’ judgment.
Asking the right questions is crucial, and getting this right can give you a goldmine of insights from your employees. But it’s important to strike a balance between asking for so much information that employees become put off, and so little the results don’t tell you anything significant.
The way we set up our survey was to make the majority of questions simple statements with agree or disagree responses based on the Likert scale.
Employees would then quickly tick one of the following in response:
Using the Likert scale has multiple benefits, it is easy for respondents to understand, it doesn’t require a huge amount of time for respondents to complete, and the results don’t require the same amount of analysis as the same question with free text response fields.
However, asking a few open questions with free text response fields will likely yield some revealing insights. We left these questions to the end, the logic behind this was that respondents would be given more detailed answers if they could see they were on the cusp of completing the survey. We chose three open-ended questions with free text response fields:
Choose your questions wisely and then think about where you might get the most value for longer, more detailed responses.
As many of you may have experienced, when you start at a new company there is often a honeymoon period, at the very least there is a period when new employees are forming their opinions of your company culture, your processes, their colleagues, etc.. Using this period to good effect is vital, a good first impression often becomes a good lasting impression. On the other hand, when employees become disillusioned it is often difficult to get them back on side.
To sum up, we got a series of insights from our Employee Engagement Survey, and we would totally recommend any company that can to perform one.
To get the most out of it, keep it anonymous, ask a wide range of carefully chosen questions (preferably with a majority of them being multiple choice and a few open-ended questions with free text response fields), and make sure employees set aside time to respond to it.