(October 21, 2016) – Did you ever hear the story of how UPS was hit by a painful strike just ten months after the company saw high marks for morale on its annual employee survey? The results indicated enviously high levels of job satisfaction, but failed to expose underlying bitterness over an increase in part-time roles at the company.
It’s been nearly two decades since that survey was taken, which should mean we’ve come a long way in measuring employee engagement. Unfortunately, it seems this remains a work in progress. Although many companies still conduct annual employee surveys, few are able to extract valuable insights that shed light on real issues that influence engagement.
Reasons vary. Sometimes, there’s simply too much time between surveys or too long of a delay in getting results for them to accurately represent current sentiments. In other instances, inadequate questions merely scratch the surface of much bigger issues. Almost always, a failure to put data to good use is to blame.
Until you can turn the insights from employee surveys into action, even your brightest leaders will sit on valuable information without clear direction, or worse, waste resources on solutions that don’t work.
Thankfully, there are ways to analyze employee engagement survey results for big returns.
How Do You Measure Employee Engagement?
If your company follows current best practices, there’s a good chance your surveys are still centered around topics related to job satisfaction. Survey templates abound with samples such as “How often do you feel stressed?” and “How happy are you at work?” Aggregating answers to these questions might indicate how likely employees are to stay, but won’t help you determine how to keep them actively engaged.
For results that can be used to create a concrete plan of action, the first step is to restructure survey content so it will be easy to score current engagement levels and reveal opportunities for improvement. The latter may not be as fun as reporting high morale, but it might just save you from a costly strike or unforeseen exodus.
(Tip: Get started with our list of ten essential survey questions to measure employee engagement.)
Are You Gaining Valuable Insights?
A common tendency with employee surveys is to consume results in all-encompassing pie charts and graphs. But these high-level snapshots won’t provide what you need to know to make a difference.
Your company is a conglomeration of different personalities, skillsets, and leadership styles. This array of variables directly impacts how likely your workforce is to help drive the organization forward.
For example, is a particular team showing exponentially high levels of engagement in your survey results? Find out what the team leader is doing differently and share it with other members of management! This is how simple, easy-to-implement strategies are uncovered instead of overlooked.
Likewise, if survey results reveal that a particular department is disproportionately disengaged, you’ll know it’s time to identify what’s going wrong so problems can be resolved.
Viewing employee engagement metrics by tenure and job role can also reveal if and how engagement levels change as employees move into new roles, or shed light on how well your onboarding process is working at engaging new hires.
Do You Act Swiftly and Often?
Any survey that takes months to report is a survey that’s bound to cost you valuable insights. This is especially true for expanding organizations that are scaling quickly. By the time your survey results come in, the employees they describe may be those of a bygone era. That cycle can lead fast-growing companies, including ones like UPS, to overlook critical engagement issues as they’re occurring.
To turn your survey results into a promising plan—one that ensures you’ll stay ahead of concerns before they become critical—you must act quickly on recent feedback. At a minimum, once-a-year surveys should be replaced by quarterly assessments that can be used to develop, test, and budget for engagement activities that actually work.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t despair. Mastering the employee engagement survey may be an intensive process but is definitely worth the effort. We feel so strongly about this that 15Five’s engagement experts have made it their mission to eradicate instinct-driven surveys once and for all. See how they’re helping organizations of all sizes turn employee survey results into better business outcomes.