Sonali Sharma, VP of Product and People Science at EngageRocket, shares the best practices for organizations who just completed their first employee engagement or employee experience survey.
Completing an employee engagement survey (EES) campaign is a big achievement - especially after weeks or months of planning, setting up, and communicating it to the whole organization. While setting up a robust Voice of Employee (VoE) program is a great first step for a better employee experience, taking action on them will help drive meaningful changes to take place. Because of this, we often get asked about follow-up actions from our users who have completed their first survey cycle. While most users understand the importance of acting on the data, the reality is that it’s not always that clear-cut.
Here are some questions we received from our users in the past:
“I have all this data about my people, now what do I do with it? What actions should I take to improve engagement for the next survey?”
“I think I can make actionable plans from this, but which one should I prioritize?”
For organizations with a VoE program in place and conducting EES on a yearly basis, we’ve come up with ten action items you can consider as a guideline before your next survey cycle. These action items would illustrate how every organization would benefit from a dedicated approach to EX as opposed to sporadic interventions.
1. Identify high-risk groups
The first step you should take after a survey is to identify high-risk groups within your organization - as they are most likely to have low engagement and higher level of burnout. For example, from survey this year, we found that millennials were the most-affected group in terms of burnout. This led to one in three millennials planning to find a new job once the pandemic is over. Identifying high-risk groups would allow you to prioritize your follow up actions better before the next EES.
2. Communicate the results from the EES
Letting your employees know the descriptive results of the survey they have just taken can help make them feel engaged and appreciated. Celebrate the good, give recognition where it’s due, and let them know how the company is planning to improve low-scoring drivers. This may be done in two ways - from an organization-wide communications standpoint, and also from a team communications standpoint. For team-level communications, it is good practice to empower managers on how to best communicate the results of the EES to their team members.
3. Conduct internal Focus Group Discussions (FGDs)
The results from the EES may uncover some issues that need further exploration to get to the root of the problems. For example, employees may express concerns about their career development in the EES and it may be worthwhile to examine what led them to feel that way. Employees can also be involved in brainstorming on the actions and the plans to improve the employee experience.
FGDs are a great way to have such open discussions with your employees and can be arranged for select groups according to your organization’s priority. The high-risk population you have identified in step 1 can be one such group. You can also have groups that are based on certain employee attributes, such as age or tenure.
4. Action plan sharing by managers or leaders
After action plans have been firmed up to address some of the issues highlighted in the EES, managers or leaders can initiate sessions to share them with the employees. This will indirectly nudge managers to take concrete action after the EES. This also allows for preliminary feedback on the feasibility and utility of these action plans. Each team-level plan should be based on selected themes or drivers, such as work-life balance or communication. If more data is needed especially for large teams, managers can conduct smaller-scale pulse surveys within their teams.
5. Define and communicate future people priorities
Other than looking back at historical data captured in the EES, it is also important to be forward-looking and be prepared for any trends that may arise in the future. Hence, you can also use this opportunity to plan for the year ahead. For example, making employees’ learning and development a priority will become more important than ever, considering that almost one in three skills that were crucial in 2018 will no longer be needed in 2022. Mental wellness is another important factor to address because the current situation has led to 54% of workers experiencing organizational change fatigue.
6. Integrate a common outcome metric into monthly or quarterly business process
Based on your organization’s key priorities, you may want to consider coming up with a metric that forms part of your regular HR scorecard. For example, if mental wellness is a critical challenge in your organization, you can add a burnout metric into the monthly business process so that you can track, trend and monitor appropriately for the company to calculate ROI. Other typical metrics include eNPS as a measure of engagement, attrition rates, job satisfaction indices and training effectiveness.
7. Set targets for the next Employee Engagement Survey
Determining your objectives and key results (OKR) before conducting your next EES is beneficial in order to define measurable targets and monitor the outcomes. Some examples of OKRs you may want to track include improving turnover ratio, increasing eNPS by y%, or reducing burnout by z%. Goal setting for improvement can be set at a company level and cascaded by teams.
8. Conduct monthly pulse surveys
Doing frequent pulse surveys is instrumental in gaining employees’ views and tracking their changes and development. These brief surveys are best conducted monthly and are useful to help you keep track of changes in employees’ sentiments. The higher frequency also helps to keep engagement levels in check so you can plan for smaller-scale interventions if needed before the next EES cycle.
9. Understand and synthesize employees’ top-of-mind concerns
Before launching your next EES, it will be beneficial if you can have a starting point to understand what is at the forefront of your employees’ minds at that particular moment. As circumstances and needs change from time to time, what may have been relevant in the previous EES may have also changed. Hence, it will be advantageous to conduct internal user interviews (e.g: with about 17-20 employees of different demographic groups) to collect qualitative data and find out if there is anything new you should take into account in the next EES. For example, they may have concerns about an upcoming change management initiative that your organization will undergo and it will be insightful if the sentiment around this is captured.
10. Finalise your next EES
With the results, planned actions, and set OKR targets you’ve gathered from the previous EES, you can now set up the list of questions and priority themes for the next one.
When taking follow-up actions between two EES, the points above are some of the considerations for you to keep in mind. One thing to highlight is that these processes are dynamic and you should find a flow that is best suited for your organisation.
If you need help in setting up a VoE program or start your very first EES, please reach out to our Workplace Strategist here.
About the Author
Sonali Sharma is EngageRocket's VP of Product and People Science. She has 12+ years experience leading people analytics capabilities for global management consulting companies and a technology unicorn in US, UAE, SEA, ANZ and North Asia. Aside from leading EngageRocket's people science capabilities, she is also a mother to a 4 year old little human and a 5 year old beagle.