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Employee surveys

improve survey response

Do incentives improve survey response rates?

By | Customer surveys, Employee surveys

Incentives are often the proposed solution for low survey response rates. After all, what’s the alternative when your ever-so-polite invitation to ‘help us serve you better’ is ignored?  

The fact is, people hate surveys. Even people who are big players in the survey business hate surveys. 

Why? Off the top, they’re often longer than promised, packed with curiously irrelevant questions, and just feel like more effort than they’re worth. Plus, they rarely produce any change that anyone sees or hears about.

Define response rate

So, considering the prevalence of bad attitude around surveys, an incentive of some kind would seem the thing to sweeten the deal and boost response rates. But hang on. Before you jump to an incentive as the solution to your response rate problem, you need to be clear on what ‘survey response rate’ actually means in your contextWhat are you trying to achieve?

  • Do you want to increase the number of people who respond to your survey invitation?
  • Do you want to increase the total number of responses in a particular area of your business?
  • Do you want to improve the representativeness of your survey responses?

Maybe offering incentives isn’t the answer you’re looking forIncreasing responses in a particular area of your business or improving the representativeness of responses suggests an adjustment to your sampling scheme, not your response rate.

 

See the value of quality survey information. Read How to improve the car buyer’s journey using customer feedback. 

The cost benefit vs the carrot   

If you’re looking at a pure and simple need to increase the number of people who respond to your survey invitation, offering incentives still may not be the answer. From a customer perspective, the decision to take a survey, or not, is a little more complex than weighing up your basic ‘do this and get that’ proposition. It’s a cost / benefit equation, and for your customers, there are numerous personal costs. For example:

  • Time. People are more time stressed now than ever before and are simultaneously encountering more requests for their feedback. Time is money and energy.
  • Effort. Long, complicated surveys actually take a lot of effort to complete.
  • Hassle / boredom. People are understandably irritated when what was billed in the email subject line as a ‘short’ survey turns into a very long survey. Particularly when the survey questions are repetitive.
  • Potential breech of privacy. Many people question promises of confidentiality.
  • Potential for spam and telemarketing. Many people worry their contact details will be sold (and resold over and over again) to unscrupulous marketers.
  • Survey vs sales pitch. With the increasingly common practice of ‘Selling under the guise of research’ people have grown very sceptical about the legitimacy of survey invitations.

There are many very sound reasons why people hesitate to volunteer for surveys. 

Reduce the cost, increase the benefit.   

Once upon a time a survey invitation was flattering – an opportunity to speak and be heard as an individual. Today, digital forums of public opinion are an endless free-for-all and everyone is invited.

In comparison, it takes a very attractive incentive to make a survey worth the time and effort.

But attractive doesn’t necessarily mean monetary. Sometimes just reducing the cost factor in the customer cost benefit equation is attractive enough. For example:

  • Make the survey short, easy and even interactive. In fact, make your survey positively compelling with gamification.
  • Include open-ended questions that invite personal stories and use text analytics to glean insights.
  • Make sure questions are relevant to your stated interest.
  • Be transparent about how personal information will be used and protected.

And then, of course, offer benefits to participation:

  • Demonstrate changes to your way of doing business that are, in fact, a direct response to customer feedback.
  • Respond promptly to any requests for personal follow-up on particular issues.
  • Send a follow-up note of thanks. It’s basic good manners and shows respect for their time and effort.

If, how and when to offer monetary incentives. 

While some form of monetary incentive will surely get you more responses, do you want higher numbers or better-quality feedback? There are many very pragmatic arguments for avoiding monetary incentives (either cash or cash equivalent in the form of vouchers, gift cards or products). Bias is the most obvious.

People who have been paid to complete your survey tend to revert to a personal agenda, described by Dana Severson, writing in Inc.com, as “Lack of consideration: When a customer has a financial motivation, their objective changes from providing meaningful feedback to providing quick answers, especially when it’s a long survey.” Or there’s the threat of Guilt bias, “While the lack of thoughtfulness is one concern, customers who are incentivised also have a tendency to provide more favourable answers due to the perception of a quid pro quo.” Be advised.

But if you’ve considered all the angles and believe monetary incentives will help drive survey success for you, here are a few tips for best results.

  • Be conservative. All incentives carry the risk of creating bias, but larger incentives come with a greater risk that respondents are in it for the money and not really interested in giving helpful or sincere feedback. So basically, you’re paying for bad information. Better to offer a small ‘token of appreciation for your participation’ – big enough to be meaningful, small enough to be a true ‘token’.
  • Incentivise everyone up front. Offer a small incentive to everyone you’re sampling, rather than a bigger incentive to those who complete and submit the survey. People will believe what they see before they’ll believe what you say you’re going to send them.
  • Offer incentives of equal value. Be sure to offer incentives that will appeal to everyone. Offering a discount voucher for future purchases will only interest those who intend to return and do business with you, excluding those who (for whatever reason) won’t. This is another way bias can creep into your survey results.

Consider your objectives and options 

Without a doubt, incentives do increase survey response rates, but may not be worth the risk of bias in its many guises. And you can’t leap to any solution until you’ve analysed your problem, which could well be a weakness in your sampling scheme.

There’s no simple answer to the question of whether incentives improve survey response rates. But get in touch and let’s talk about your situation. We’ll help you define your needs and develop a survey that generates healthy response rates and delivers the quality feedback you need to make meaningful connections with your customers.  

Bridging the remote working gap with employee surveys

By | Employee surveys

Keep driving business results and maintaining firm connections with your remote working staff by using employee surveys.

Adapt or die

In order to survive and thrive, organisations need to be able to adapt to an ever-changing world – never more so than now. You see, the world changes in two ways, sometimes slowly over time and sometimes suddenly as a result of a major event or upheaval. COVID-19 is one such upheaval that has forced businesses and organisations to make radical changes in a very short space of time. Being ‘the fittest’ is no guarantee of survival, it’s all about the ability to change and adapt to a new situation.

A casual search on the internet will reveal that over 80% of the Fortune 500 firms that existed in 1955 are gone today. Many of them have even passed right out of memory. They failed because they did not innovate or adapt to keep pace with the contemporary world. If you look at more recent examples, like Blackberry, Nokia, Blockbuster Video or Kodak, they too have all but disappeared, simply because they did not adapt. Put differently, they did not read the signs nor listen to ‘the word on the wind’. They did not respond appropriately to the environment changing around them.

It’s all about an appropriate response

At its core, business survival is about stimulus and response. An appropriate response to a new stimulus or situation ensures survival. An inappropriate response, or even just a lack of response, often results in the organisation’s demise.

For organisations to adapt successfully, leaders need to understand the situation ‘on the ground’. That is, how employees feel about the changes taking place and how well they are adapting to them. This kind of dialogue is important because it establishes trust, facilitates buy-in and makes the change process inclusive.

Changes foisted on business by the current COVID-19 pandemic are perhaps the biggest challenges many leaders have ever faced, requiring both fast and appropriate adaptation. Just as an organism would use its sensory apparatus to observe and understand its surroundings, so too do organisational leaders need to gather information that will inform their responses. There are a number of survey tools that fulfil the need.

Surveys are the eyes, ears and fingertips that sense the business environment

Think of surveys as your organisation’s sensory apparatus, allowing you to see what’s happening on the ground, hear what employees have to say about their situations, and get a feeling for how circumstances may play out in the near future. Here are some of the survey tools you can use to get a sense of your organisation and the external factors effecting your business.

Employee engagement surveys

An employee engagement survey measures what is in lay terms called ‘job satisfaction’. In other words, in order to be at their most effective, employees need to feel that their work is important and meaningful, and a positive contribution towards something larger. In short, they need to feel valued.

Current trends show that successful organisations are moving away from annual surveys, which are too far apart, and are measuring employee engagement more frequently. As the saying goes, you don’t check your bank balance only once a year, you check it before and after every major decision you make.

And rather than conducting a lengthy ‘catch-all’ survey at the end of a year, pulse surveys (comprising only a few questions) at regular intervals (weekly or monthly) quickly reveal trends within your organisation and can alert you to any potential problems on the horizon.

With so many changes to business as usual, like remote working and social distancing, pulse surveys will help you stay in tune with your employees and support their well-being and engagement. And the data will also help you successfully navigate your business through the unchartered waters ahead.

Learn more about employee surveys here: 8 Tips for effective employee surveys

Alignment surveys

People who are united and aligned consistently deliver better results. If your employees’ activities are not aligned with your strategic goals you will soon discover that remote workers will tend to do what they want to instead of what they have to. If employees cannot see how their activities contribute toward a strategic goal, they will ‘improvise’ and choose activities that make the most sense to them, not necessarily what makes the most sense for the organisation.

In an effort to find a work / life balance under the present circumstances, it’s completely understandable that some team members may favour ‘life’ over work. It is important to never confuse activity with progress – if your remote teams are furiously busy doing their own things and headed off in different directions, you have a serious alignment problem.

Culture surveys

A culture survey measures how well an organisation’s behaviour matches its expressed values, assuming the company is values driven. Survey results are then used to determine changes in strategy, leadership needs, new investments, organisational changes, etc.

A culture alignment survey will tell you if your employees firstly, understand your organisation’s values and secondly, understand how their activities and actions express those values.

For example, there may be a strong underlying culture of communication; the boss has an open-door policy and there is sufficient trust among employees to foster open and honest exchanges. Next thing, POW! There’s a virus outbreak. Everyone’s working from home. Now what? The hope is that cultural values (open communication, in this instance) will translate from office, to home and then back to the office when circumstances allow.

Climate survey

It is important to distinguish corporate climate from corporate culture. Corporate climate is more transient and is a result of corporate culture in the same way that daily weather is a result of deep ocean currents flowing around the Earth. Mark Twain said, “Everyone talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it”, so use surveys to determine how your workforce is adjusting to their new remote working environments and if necessary, do something to change the situation as soon as possible!

Pulse surveys are ideal for this kind of feedback, as their frequency and brevity make them like a virtual weather report that will quickly show if there is a storm brewing for your organisation.

The climate in a home office is both figuratively and literally different from the climate at the office. And since the climate has changed, the underlying culture needs to adapt – adapt to a new, virtual environment where Microsoft Teams takes the place of the water cooler and video conferencing replaces the bosses open door.

Customised surveys

Adaptation is all about getting things right. To get the right answers you must ask the right questions. You also need to ask them at the right time and in the right way.

Generic and templated survey tools abound in the marketplace, and they are not without value, but when it comes to meaningful employee feedback you need survey questions that are tailored and specific to your organisation.

To drive business results, you need actionable intel and you need it immediately. What you don’t need is a whole lot of meaningless data to pore through. eValue customised surveys are co-developed – with you– and generate immediate, actionable data to make meaningful management decisions.

Survive and thrive

Change is the key to survival in nature and in business. The challenge right now is keeping your employees engaged with the work at hand, connected to each other and committed to adapting to new ways of working in a whole new world. Surveys are efficient and effective tools for keeping critical lines of communication open.

If you’d like to find out how eValue surveys can help you keep your remote employees connected and contributing to the successful evolution of your business, get in touch with us today.

 

Manage remote employees’ well-being with pulse surveys. Quick questions for fast feedback that give insight to the health of your organisation.

How to manage remote employees’ well-being with pulse surveys.

By | Employee surveys

Quick questions for fast feedback that give insight into the health of your organisation

The modern world of work is (happily) far more concerned with our basic human needs than it was 50-60 years ago. Thank goodness people are no longer treated like cogs in a giant machine and management has finally recognised the importance of kindness. But it isn’t just kindness that is important. HR knows that in order to attract and retain top talent, it is absolutely necessary that employees feel content and have a sense of satisfaction in their daily activities. Yet, mere satisfaction is not enough: Scientific research has repeatedly demonstrated that you get the best results when, on top of all your other employee engagement efforts, your employees are happy doing their jobs. This has never been truer than now.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries have implemented lockdowns and quarantines, which have compelled many companies, and their employees, to explore the ramifications of working remotely. Necessity is not just the mother of invention; it has forced many an organisation to ‘retool’ so that employees can work from home and it has fundamentally changed the way people work. It is a whole new world of video calls and video conferencing, online collaboration tools, and a plethora of productivity apps. This sudden change requires an almost entirely new set of communication skills and extra effort is required on the part of employees. Not everyone embraces change with the same gusto. Managing remote workers’ well-being is crucial in order to keep them content and above all, happy and engaged.

How do you know if an employee is happy and engaged? Ask!

One of the most effective tools for gathering feedback is the humble survey, and of the various survey types, the pulse survey is the best at getting a quick and focused response. Think about it, what’s one of the first things a doctor does when assessing your health? They take your pulse, right? Hence the name ‘pulse survey’ as it gives immediate insight into the health of your organisation.

Pulse surveys are quick and to the point, typically ranging from 3 to 10 questions that can be answered in as many minutes. The purpose is to get relevant information as quickly as possible, so there is no need beat around the bush with a lengthy and complicated set of questions. When done regularly, e.g. weekly, or monthly, the accumulated data from pulse surveys quickly reveals changes in engagement and satisfaction levels within your organisation. After all, you don’t check your bank account only once a year to see if you are living within your means, right? Same thing here, regularly checking in with your remote team members enables you to address any issues or concerns before it becomes too late to easily resolve problems.

As important as it is to check-in regularly with pulse surveys, effective managers know that it is equally important to know what to do with the data the surveys provide. The purpose of your efforts must be clear and consequently you must ask the right questions. Sure, it is possible to buy a generic pulse survey, but a thoughtfully constructed question set will yield feedback that is by far more meaningful and it will tell you precisely how remote workers feel in their new environment.

Of paramount importance is that you have a plan to act on the feedback. As Harvey MacKay (American businessman, author, and syndicated columnist with Universal Uclick) says, “Ideas without action are worthless”. Pulse surveys will give you an idea of what is going on, but you need to have a plan of action in order to effectively look after your remote employees’ well-being.

In pursuit of happiness

Happiness derives from well-being. If happiness is the goal, then managing a remote employee’s well-being is the path to that goal. It is an easy path, too, “time and again, scientific studies have shown us that if we do the following five things … happiness will increase”. Only five things? How convenient, perfect for a pulse survey!

Manage your remote employees’ well-being by asking how they’re doing on these five points:

1. Staying connected

Social connection improves physical health and psychological well-being. You should ask if your now distributed team still feels connected? Anyone who has had a team meeting through an app like Zoom or Skype will attest that it isn’t quite the same as a literal face-to-face meeting. People drop in and out because of connectivity issues, or inadvertently talk over each other, or everyone just sits in silence waiting for someone else to talk. Some team members may find this very awkward and artificial and it falls to the managers of remote workers to ensure that these concerns are addressed and somehow remedied.

2. Being active

You should always try to balance work life with real life – all work and no play makes Jack Nicholson a dull boy. Yes, that’s a direct reference to The Shining – a film about a family cooped up for months on end, who end up going more than slightly mad. It’s a situation that’s very relatable to anyone in lockdown or quarantine at the moment. Although it may not presently be possible to keep physically active the way you used to, there are other ways to stay active. Ask what your employees are doing and be sure to share the results. At the very least, it may be good for a laugh.

3. Continually learning

Obviously working remotely requires you to learn new methods of doing things, but routines have changed too. For example, ask your remote employees what they are doing with the time that has been freed up by not needing to commute. Are they sleeping in or are they using the extra time to learn new things and acquire new skills? Listening to podcasts or watching TED talks on the way into work has become a popular pastime for many, are they still doing it now?

4. Helping others

Being helpful is its own reward and it’s important to provide your remote employees with opportunities to be helpful. Some employees will take to working remotely with far greater ease than the rest of the team. Ask who is finding the transition easy and ask who is struggling (and with which aspect), and then match them up. Not only does this arrangement build trust between colleagues, but making helpfulness part of your corporate culture will yield massive dividends down the line because your employees will feel empowered.

5.Taking notice

Regularly asking after employees’ well-being and then acting, based on those responses, clearly demonstrates that management sees employees as people. People with needs, desires, aspirations, limitations, and feelings. Taking notice is an organisational equivalent of being mindful, of looking at something familiar and examining it in detail in order to discover something not noticed before. A pulse survey can help an organisation to ‘live in the moment’.

All in a heartbeat

As sure as going for regular check-ups is good for your health, regular check-ins with pulse surveys are good for your business. If you’d like to find out more about the eValue pulse survey and how it can help you better understand and engage your employees, get in touch with us today.

Employee feedback questions you should be asking

By | Employee surveys

Employee feedback is vital for gauging employee performance and levels of employee engagement. Survey tools have evolved and provide phenomenal insights.

The COVID-19 pandemic has radically transformed how countless numbers of employees work and will work in the future. Necessity as they say, is the mother of invention and, thank goodness, technology is the midwife.

Thanks largely to technology, we find ourselves not completely helpless. We’re not helpless against the virus as medical professionals tirelessly work toward finding a vaccine, and we’re not helpless when it comes to staying productive. Thousands of companies have made transitions that have seen a substantial percentage of the workforce now working remotely.

In these trying times, it’s of paramount importance to stay in touch – and in the know – because for all the benefits of being able to work remotely, the virtual distance can easily erode a company’s culture. It’s easy enough to stay in contact with colleagues and co-workers by using the various platforms geared toward online collaboration, but to really know what’s going on corporate culture-wise, you’ll have to ask some very specific questions.

Enter the humble survey

Traditionally, surveys were simply performance management tools. By receiving feedback, organisations hoped to gain insight into things like corporate culture, employee engagement and employee performance. We’re seeing a dramatic increase in survey research and data collection by means of online surveys and now, more than ever, we need employee engagement surveys.

Tumultuous events can easily upset the status quo and disrupt established patterns and practices. Effective employee feedback is important because carefully analysing survey data, for example, can provide insight into how employees feel, and what their experience of the current situation is.

It’s very useful to get regular feedback, as this not only informs management of trends and moods but provides comfort to employees in knowing their wellbeing is top of mind and an ongoing concern for management. At this stage of the game, limiting feedback opportunities to the annual engagement survey or annual performance review is completely insufficient for keeping a handle on what’s going on with your workforce.

Building a better survey

There are many free survey tools available online that go out of their way to help you set things up, and it’s simple enough to create a survey if you are a small organisation. But let’s say you are a large, complex organisation; how can you create an equally complex and detailed survey? Sure, a survey can be made entirely of multiple-choice questions, but this can lack focus, especially if there are a great many irrelevant questions.

Just imagine someone from marketing having to read through all the questions directed at someone in finance! You can be sure they will be on autopilot for the rest of the questions and not even considering their answers – creating a very unreliable survey response. You also don’t want people to abandon the survey, as this will negatively affect your response rate.

Skip who?

Skip logic is a common feature in online survey tools, and it allows for a personalised survey experience by actively navigating the respondent only to questions that are relevant, based on previously answered questions. Skip logic reduces the number of questions to be answered, eliminates questions that will add no value, gathers relevant survey data for more accurate analysis, and helps to achieve higher completion rates.

What types of questions should you ask?

The construction of a survey depends greatly on the situation. Do you require a quick snapshot or a more detailed, in-depth response? A short, pulse survey will work for quick insights and needn’t comprise more than five carefully formulated questions, however if it’s deep-dive, nitty-gritty granular info you need, you’ll have to mix it up. A comprehensive survey ideally uses a range of question types to keep it user friendly.

Don’t forget to consider different types of employees when constructing your survey. For example, some may feel constrained by the limited options of a multiple-choice question. An easy way to accommodate your more verbose / chatty employees is to allow for an optional ‘Other’ response in your multiple-choice questions. Open-ended questions are often far more revealing than survey questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no, or “D: All of the above”.

It’s much like a sales conversation, in that you want to engage people and give them the opportunity to make observations and give comments, so you get a better ‘feel’ for them. These types of questions do require a human on the other end to analyse however, so be mindful that adding open-ended questions will add to the evaluation time of your survey. You can be sure that AI will be able to accelerate this process in the near future.

Be mindful that you won’t always get positive feedback. It’s like they say about publicity, positive or negative, it’s all good. Don’t ignore negative feedback.

Also allow for comments and observations about the survey at the end of the question set. These reactions, hopefully in the form of constructive criticism, will enable you to adapt and improve your survey.

Surveys. Surveys everywhere …

Another indicator of just how far surveys have come, and what a useful tool they are, is their inclusion in popular collaborative platforms, like Forms in Microsoft Teams, and user generated polls on social media platforms like Instagram. Both allow for real-time feedback from either your team members or your Insta followers.

At the end of the day, we are all human beings and we all like to know that somebody cares about us and our wellbeing. It could be argued that surveys were, historically, an impersonal way of gathering information, but given their evolution and modern functionality, they’re an indispensable tool that is finding more and more prominence in the modern world of work.

Truly, we live in interesting times.

Top tips for using pulse surveys to gauge employee engagement

By | Employee surveys

Employee engagement is a dynamic state of affairs that isn’t easily measured by any linear formula, and least of all by the annual engagement survey.

It’s not a matter of, ‘you’ve got it, or you don’t’. Employee engagement ebbs and flows. Your objective, as a people performance professional, is to raise the overall level of engagement and then manage the curve. And that takes real-time communication, prompt feedback and appropriate action. The traditional annual engagement survey has its place providing a long view, but it’s far too removed from day-to-day performance to be very useful. Enter the employee pulse survey.

A pulse survey is a concise series of questions sent out at short intervals (weekly, monthly or quarterly depending on the subject) as a means to check-in on specific issues of concern. Pulse surveys typically have between 5 – 15 simple questions on a single subject and are sent out quarterly. For example, an employee engagement pulse survey might ask questions about job satisfaction, the work environment or co-worker relationships.

They’re fast and easy to complete, so response rates are high, feedback is prompt and survey fatigue is minimised. You just need to listen and act.

Here are a few tips for using employee pulse surveys effectively.

Write simple, direct questions

Think about what you want to know and why you’re asking the question. How will the feedback add value to your business? Phrase your questions simply and briefly. Here are some examples:

  • I regularly receive meaningful recognition for doing good work. The answers will tell you if your employees feel valued and if they feel that their contributions and achievements are appreciated.Maybe you have some form of recognition program in place. If they’re not feeling it, you have to wonder what’s lacking in your program. Or maybe it’s not the program, per se, but your line managers just aren’t giving the small, casual recognition gestures that make people feel good about their day. It’s a valuable heads-up on a serious obstacle to engagement.
  • I have the equipment and supplies I need to perform my job to the best of my ability. The answer will tell you if your employees have everything they need to do their jobs effectively.Maybe there are major obstacles to their work that you’re not aware of. Or maybe it’s a simple case of upgrading the printers in accounting or repairing the broken forklifts in the warehouse. Those are problems you can remedy in fairly short order and the next pulse survey should reflect a positive change in score.
  • I feel comfortable offering my suggestions and giving honest feedback to managers. The answers will give you a true reflection of your company culture and highlight strengths and weaknesses in certain working relationships.You can’t dictate engagement, so better to understand if and how you need to help certain managers establish open, honest working relationships with their direct reports. When people feel safe to disagree with the status quo and offer new solutions, you can bet they’re fully engaged with their work. Managers need to know how to create that environment.

Announce the survey

Pulse surveys are fast and easy to complete, but a little promotion will further support a high response rate. Send a brief message to let people know when to expect the survey, what it’s about and how you will use their feedback. Be sure to let them know if their responses are anonymous (they should be). Also, let them know that you value their participation. Some people will look forward to sharing their opinions and experiences with you.

Pulse surveys are a regular reminder that senior management actively seeks out and values employee feedback. When you establish an atmosphere of open communication, you pave the way for other exchanges, like knowledge sharing among colleagues, recommendations on procedural improvements and innovative solutions to business challenges. These are exactly the kind of conversations that boost a culture of high employee engagement levels.

Send follow up communications

After the survey, follow up with a note of thanks for participating, provide feedback on results and set a timetable for future announcements and action plans. And do it promptly. Pulse survey analysis is a quicker, simpler exercise than long-form engagement surveys. You’ve invited feedback, so don’t delay in responding. Let people know they’ve been heard.

Once you’ve established an action plan, share it with employees and be sure to include timeframes, people responsible for implementation and other relevant details. Because pulse surveys are deployed over short timeframes, you have an opportunity to immediately begin incremental changes and create positive momentum for improvement that should be reflected in the next survey.

Repeat the process

Pulse surveys are best used as an adjunct to the annual employee engagement survey that produces a whopping amount of data – but in a broad stroke just once a year. Pulse, surveys, on the other hand, act as a sort of regular, ongoing dialogue with employees. They speak, you respond, and the cycle continues.

A healthy dynamic

The consistent flow of information provided by employee feedback and regular, meaningful response from management establishes a healthy organisational dynamic and sets the stage for high employee engagement.

If you’d like to find out more about the eValue pulse survey and how it can help you better understand and engage your employees, get in touch with us today.

3 Key benefits of employee surveys

By | Employee surveys

Employee surveys are one of the best ways to measure the human factors that have the greatest potential to influence your organisation’s performance.

When linked to business strategy, employee surveys can provide a direct reading on levels of engagement and valuable insights on whether corporate culture is conducive to high work performance. Most importantly, surveys linked to strategy reveal quite clearly if your employees are working in alignment with your strategic goals.

Beyond traditional surveys

For decades, traditional employee surveys have focused on satisfaction, morale, quality of work life and other employee-centric issues. The trouble with these traditional methods is that they used lagging indicators to predict problems and measured employee responses in isolation from the rest of the business.

There is still benefit in hearing what your employees have to say – it’s critical, in fact – but in an age of on-tap information and real-time interaction it makes sense to use the insights from survey data to create real behavioural change. That’s what drives business goals.

 

Link feedback to strategy

Next-generation, strategic employee surveys not only ask the right questions with an eye to improving employee performance, they also draw direct connections between feedback and strategic goals. For example, a typical survey question might ask for response to the statement “I am happy with the kind of feedback I get from my manager.” A strategic survey would phrase the statement, “The feedback I get from my manager helps me improve my work performance.“ Notice the focus of inquiry shifts from the employee’s perception of happiness with feedback, to the perception of how feedback improves work performance.

 

Strategic surveys vs traditional surveys – what’s the difference?

Traditional surveys

Strategic surveys

Lagging indicators. Looks for warning signs of trouble via lagging indicators, when potential problems are well advanced.Leading indicators. Delivers real-time data, so potential problems can be identified and corrected before they develop.
Employee-centric.  Measures are employee-centric and considered in isolation from the rest of the business.Holistic view. Employee measures are assessed as part of a broader cause and effect chain, relating employee attitudes to customer satisfaction, for example.
HR-centric. Surveys are often developed and managed by HR as ‘employee’ initiatives and typically don’t consider broader strategic goals.Stakeholder inclusive. Surveys include key stakeholders such as Operations, Finance and HR to ensure results reflect a holistic view of the business.
Disconnected. Surveys measure employee job / organisational satisfaction but do not corelate data with employee productivity.Direct correlation. Survey results draw direct correlation between employee engagement data and employee productivity.
Single point of view. Surveys are employee-centric and measure only their perspectives.Multiple views. Surveys reflect broad aspects of the employee / employer relationship and points of mutual benefit.
Humanistic. Surveys measure attitudes, behaviours and morale as humanistic concerns.Organisational. Surveys measure attitudes and behaviours as related to organisational strategy, values and operational needs.

 

Benefit 1: Success through valuable fast feedback

The value of data gathered around employee perceptions is its potential to act as an early warning signal of any looming human-centric problems that can negatively affect your organisational performance. But perceptions change from one conversation to the next, and your employee engagement level will have more ups and downs than a volatile rand. This makes one of the major benefits of strategic employee surveys not only the quality of data gathered, but how quickly accurate information can be collected, analysed and sent directly to the decision-makers who determine appropriate action.

 

Benefit 2: Influencing behavioural change

Employee surveys help facilitate the two-way feedback that’s essential for a healthy performance culture aligned to strategic goals.  If you’ve never conducted a survey in your company, your employees may think their opinions don’t count. Or, if you conduct the standard annual survey and 6-months later business continues as usual, they will (quite rightly) conclude that their opinions, perceptions and suggestions don’t matter. In its simplest form, completing a survey gives your employees a voice in shaping their work environment and the performance of your business. This goes for both big companies and small businesses.

A valuable next step to learning from your employees, is the potential to influence them. This is the dance of communication we learn at an early age. Very rarely is information or a suggestion given and received without exerting an element of influence or persuasion. Psychologists believe this is because questions prompt us to reflect. So even if a response to a question is negative – just asking the question can prompt a person to change their behaviour. For example, an employee may respond in the negative to the question: When something unexpected comes up in your work, do you usually know who to ask for help? When responding, the employee thinks about this and is prompted to find a person they can go to for help.

 

Benefit 3: Understanding where to invest to add value

One of the key benefits of employee surveys is knowing exactly what your people issues are and where they’re cropping up. With this data at hand, you can make informed and fast decisions about the best corrective action.

Strategic surveys, like eValue, use tools to measure employee engagement that provide a deep look into the real issues. Traditional surveys may accurately reflect perceptions but are not necessarily reliable indicators of cause / effect.  So if you’re looking for ways to reduce turnover, the fact that your employees report high satisfaction with your benefits package and selections at the staff canteen, doesn’t suggest you ignore the possibility that your benefits package could use an overhaul. (Or that your canteen menu needs more variety.)

A more nuanced picture of employee engagement produces valuable data that serves not only as a predictor of the performance-impacting human issues within your company, but as a road map to investing in your people to benefit your company as a whole and to drive profits.

Find out how you can turn employee insights into strategic action with eValue. Contact us today.