The People Experience Blog

What your employee survey might be missing

May 21, 2020 10:00:00 AM / by Raj

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We met a few companies who just wanted to conduct a survey (nothing more) once a while because their company hasn't been "surveying" employees much. They also asked us why they shouldn't use a google form to run their surveys instead of using Engagepulse. What followed is an interesting conversation and we share some of the key pointers we put forward in the discussion.


Launching a survey is not enough


  1. Surveys need to be backed up with action. A critical component of an effective feedback system is the intent to act on feedback. Without the ability to respond and act on feedback, you are going to lose trust really fast. Most employees do not believe in surveys as they lack faith in the outcome. Before you start, it’s important to decide why you are conducting the survey, what is the outcome expected and what actions you are willing to take based on the response. Once you have arrived at these decisions, inform your audience about the purpose and the impact of the survey. After you are done collecting responses, make sure to publish results. 

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  2. What’s in it for the employee? Put yourself in the employee's shoes and think about the value responding to a survey is going to add to your life. If you are asked to take out time from your schedule to answer a list of questions with no visible insights into how it's going to affect your daily life, would you do it? Most outdated survey tools don’t even acknowledge your responses and come with lengthy forms and no insights about actions taken on your feedback. Unless you are ecstatic about your new job or perhaps livid at your manager, why would you take out time to fill in thoughtful and detailed responses? Your survey has to be appealing and convincing enough for employees at different stages of their employment journey to attract participation and quality responses.

  3. Are you looking for answers that you want to hear? Most surveys are designed to inform management teams about only those things that they want to hear about and end up creating a biased picture. Benchmarking surveys tend to suffer from self reporting bias and it's important to be able to validate the source and authenticity of the responses to arrive at real conclusions. Your employees might want to express themselves in different ways on real topics which might not be part of the questionnaire - do you have a channel for them to express such views? Instead of asking questions to elicit only a specific type of answer, you can ask questions related to observable behavior that allow respondents to answer based on their first hand experience - this can help draw quality responses with minimum distortion. 

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  4. Small digestible packets. Your employee is also a smart and pampered consumer with lower attention spans. If your surveys are not engaging or worse, lengthy or shabbily designed, you can expect your respondents to burn through the questions without adequate thought. An ideal practice is to spread your questions across shorter surveys spread across the employees journey. This allows you to keep your surveys frictionless and also cover relevant experience drivers across the employees journey.

  5. Conversations instead of forms. We won't pour our heart out to someone who doesn't listen or respond. Sharing feedback via surveys is not very different. If you have a long survey form staring back at you while you are translating your emotions into text, its not a lot of fun. Conversional tech brings in powerful elements like read receipts, acknowledgements, emojis etc to the process, why should your survey still be a cold long form? If your survey platform can show respondents that you are listening in to the responses, it just makes sharing feedback a more valued and pleasant experience.

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  6. Stay Current. Insights from a survey done 6 months back, do not help you understand the current story or prepare you for what lies ahead. Survey responses are just one part of the story, 360 degree feedback, peer reviews, appreciations, goal attainment all of these go into making up the current experience index of your employee and give you insights into what you should keep doing as an organization to maintain the tempo. To arrive at a holistic view of the experience index of your organization you should have a 360 degree view into all elements that impact your employees journey.

  7. False positives, bias and passives. The most active respondents in a survey can also be people with polarized opinions. The first to respond are usually the ones who are either ecstatic or bitterly disappointed. Surveys fail to capture and highlight the passives who are not part of the active respondents. It's also not uncommon for employees giving positive reviews during stressful situations to safeguard their employment. Recency factor and human bias also impacts the responses and merely looking at the survey results without having an insight into the overall journey can lead to wrong conclusions.

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  8. Are your surveys as smart as your organization? The priorities for an employee 15 days into a new job will be different from the priorities of a seasoned employee. A new hire will be more receptive to answer questions like “Did you feel welcomed on your first day” or “Did you get enough face time with your hiring manager”. Personalized and contextual questions that are relevant to the tenure of your hire will get you quality responses than a standard set of questions for everyone. Does your periodic survey ask your employees contextual questions based on their tenure?
  9. Confidence is the key. Employees can fill in positive reviews fearing retribution. If this starts happening, its very difficult to build the trust again or salvage your HR analytics initiative!  Changing tools or format is easy but building that trust again is exponentially difficult. Your leadership team should spend time on a short video (voice and image wins over plain text in this case) explaining who will be able to view the responses and what measures are taken to protect the identities of the respondents.

Your organization has a distinct culture and unique set of employees who contribute to your organizations experience and performance index. Using a one size fits all approach doesn't work for your business strategy and also doesn't work for your organizations feedback surveys. Talk to Engagepulse to boost your respondent rate with quality responses.

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Tags: Employee Surveys


Written by Raj