A few months ago, I attended a workshop on how organizations should use employee feedback as fuel, presented by Shelley Osborne, head of Learning and Development at Udemy. Shelley talked about how doing so is essential to growth and development, not a nice add-on. Without feedback, Human Resources (HR) can’t know how to help grow and develop the company.
This is a great way to frame employee surveys. They are essential to creating and supporting a workplace that is productive, vibrant, and thriving. It’s important to note that employee surveys are an important tool for workplaces both small and large. Even a team of fewer than ten will provide actionable feedback if you give them the opportunity.
If you’re looking for information on how to design an effective survey, there are tons of great resources available. The experts at Culture Amp have a really informative blog, with posts on everything from how to get started, to good questions, to how to measure employee engagement. The Culture Amp platform itself looks like a great tool for larger companies, but at our size, Google Forms works well for us. I would love to use Culture Amp in the future, to take advantage of the data analytics capabilities!
Another resource we always come back to is Google’s Re:Work. Google runs a lot of employee surveys, on everything from employee engagement to snacks in the breakroom, and they have some good insights to share on what they’ve learned along the way.
We’ve also given a great deal of thought on whether our surveys should be anonymous, allow for optional self-identification, or have mandatory identification. We decided to implement different strategies for our three regular surveys, because a standardized approach didn’t make sense for us.
In Q2 and Q4 we run an employee pulse survey to look at employee satisfaction. This survey has optional self-identification by team and by name. Both fields are optional, but they help us to take action on feedback in a meaningful way within the teams where we see issues.
In the same quarters, we run a diversity and inclusion audit. This survey includes optional fields for the collection of demographic information, so we can segment the data and identify patterns in how different groups perceive issues of diversity and inclusion.
Finally, we run performance reviews in Q1 and Q3, that include feedback from coworkers. These coworker feedback surveys include mandatory identification to ensure that feedback is given fairly to all employees.
Designing, testing, refining, and executing a survey is time consuming. It takes months to get from a survey idea to having the data at your fingertips. And once you have the data, there’s still work to be done.
Here are the steps we use to take action on the data once it’s collected:
Part of running a successful survey is making sure that your team has trust in how the data will be used, so they feel they can be entirely honest. All qualitative and quantitative answers should be anonymized to ensure that feedback can’t be attributed to a particular employee. As a small company, this can be difficult, but maintaining anonymity is important for establishing trust. Only a small number of HR folks ever see the raw data.
Identify Trends in the Data
This is basic statistical analysis, identifying patterns and trends over time. If more employees are saying they don’t have a healthy work/life balance this quarter than the last time you ran the survey, that’s something to note. The opposite is also true! If more employees are reporting a healthy work/life balance, recognize that the initiatives you put in place have made a positive change.
Attribute Trends to Segments of the Workplace
Our surveys include optional self-identification of team and name. We do this so we can better identify trends that are specific to a particular team, and those that are relevant to the company as a whole. If an employee answers, “Strongly Disagree” to the question, “I find it easy to communicate with team members”, we want to be able to identify which managers should be building out action items to address the issue.
Create Action Items
Action items should be identified both company-wide and within teams. It’s important here to work with managers to understand how to address the issues identified in the survey. If you aren’t making changes, why run the survey?
Communicate the Results to the Team
Our company has a monthly all-hands meeting that we call Super Friday. This is where we provide all employees with an overview of the surveys and call out the action items for them. This is also a great time to reiterate why you run surveys so that employees will be more likely to complete the surveys in the future.
The next time you run the survey is a great time to follow up on your action items. Were they addressed? Can you see a change in the latest responses?