In our last Blog – PART 1 of The How-To of Workplace Surveys – we delved into the mechanics of the survey itself. Here in PART 2, we’ll look more generally based on our experience at typical tips for success as well as common pitfalls, ideal participation rates and most importantly, how to interpret the data so that it can be used to impact your business in a positive way.
Tips and Common Pitfalls to be aware of:
Having run several hundred of these surveys for our clients over the years, we’ve learnt what works and have sometimes learnt the pitfalls to avoid – the hard way.
TIP ONE: TAKE TIME TO ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS FROM THE GET-GO
We’ve often seen clients conducting their own survey so keen to get it rolled out, that they’ve failed to take the time to ensure that their questions are valid and will last the distance. For example, some questions may be double-barreled, in that two distinct things are being asked within one statement, or perhaps the survey wasn’t all-encompassing the first time around, so more questions needed to be added in ‘year 2’. In an ideal world, asking the same questions year-on-year will mean your analysis is a lot easier when it comes to identifying and tracking trends over time, as you’re comparing ‘like for like’.
TIP TWO: USE A SURVEY METHOD THAT MAKES IT EASY TO PARTICIPATE
It’s important to ensure that your survey is sent out via an appropriate method – that is, via electronic means is great for those in desk jobs, but you’ll get a much higher participation rate if you can provide a paper version to field workers, or those without every day access to a computer.
TIP THREE: ENSURE YOUR COMMUNICATION IS SPOT-ON
Another way to encourage participation, is to ensure there is a well-thought-out communication to go with the survey to explain its purpose – reassuring employees that the data will be utilised for improving the business, as opposed to honing in on individuals who have provided the feedback.
TIP FOUR: CONSIDER ENGAGING A THIRD PARTY TO RUN YOUR SURVEY
Along the same vein, having an independent party conduct the survey for you will go a long way to reassuring employees of confidentiality and certainly elicits more honest responses, giving you your best shot at improving the right things in order to lift satisfaction and engagement overall.
A word of warning.
Above all, we do not recommend embarking on the workplace survey process unless you have time for and/or are serious as a business about:
1. DRILLING DOWN FURTHER AND DOING SOMETHING WITH THE FEEDBACK,
2. ENSURING YOU COMMUNICATE THE SURVEY FINDINGS WITH YOUR PEOPLE, AND
3. COMMUNICATING TO YOUR PEOPLE WHAT YOU WILL DO / HAVE DONE AS A RESULT OF THE FEEDBACK
If you’re not able to commit to these three things, you run the risk that your people will not see the value in having given their feedback, which can affect how valued they feel by the business and this can in turn, be detrimental to employee engagement levels. We recommend that you wait until you are willing / able to follow through with the whole process.
What does good participation look like?
In our experience, the larger the organisation, the lower the overall participation rate. The average business can expect a participation rate of 70% – 80% as being a good benchmark. As a small business (less than 50 employees), you’ll need to aim a little higher for an 80% – 90% participation rate.
Why does this matter? Because lower than benchmark participation rates can be an indication of low engagement levels within the business – the theory being that the very disengaged may choose not to give their feedback, as they do not believe anything will be done with it.
Great, you’ve got the data. What does it all mean?
NEUTRAL RATINGS SPELL OPPORTUNITY!
The natural tendency when reviewing workplace survey data is to focus on the extreme ratings, with little regard for the responses sitting in the “Neutral” category. The focus should be quite the opposite in fact!
When analysing your results, start with the end in mind – you’ve probably asked for feedback from your people to get a sense of how they’re feeling in their work, but even more importantly, to spot areas for improvement. Many get caught up with statements rated with high levels of disagreement when trying to identify what they could do better. We’re not saying to ‘look the other way’ when it comes to the negative ratings, as this data is important too, but contrary to what might seem logical, we’re saying instead, determine which statements have the largest proportion of neutral responses and invest your time and attention in investigating why this might be.
Why? Arguably many of those who give ‘disagree’ and ‘strongly disagree’ ratings throughout are past the point of no return when it comes to job satisfaction. However someone rating a statement ‘neutrally’ could be considered ambivalent or ‘on the fence’. Either way, they’re persuadable – they could be converted to the ‘engaged’ / ‘satisfied’ camp yet! This group may just need to know that their feedback is valued and to see some action before they’re swayed. Our aim when analysing survey results and creating an Action Plan from the results, is to shift those neutral responses over into the ‘agree’ and ‘strongly agree’ categories over time. Longer term, it is this feedback loop and follow through process that drives culture change.
COMMENTS / QUALITATIVE FEEDBACK
Consider the free-text answers as your context to the rest of the survey answers. We suggest reading through these a few times and grouping them into ‘feedback themes’ that may begin to paint a picture as to the reason behind results of certain sections.
No one question is going to give you an “engagement score”, although as discussed earlier in this guide, certain questions or statements can be looked at collectively to indicate employee engagement levels. One way of calculating an overall ‘score’ of your survey is to average out the results of all of your statements to provide an overall ‘satisfaction score’. This is an excellent measure to use as your benchmark year on year.
Know you need to work on your workplace culture, but not sure where to start? Take our quick Ready, Set, Grow Culture Check-Up and within 48 hours you’ll receive a free, comprehensive report on just how you’re doing, and recommendations as to what to prioritise next!
Any questions or feedback? We’d love to hear from you! Or if any queries on running your next Workplace Survey, contact one of our People and Culture experts today.