What to Do When the Employee Survey Results Come Back

By Mariah Collins, SHRM-CP on Aug 19, 2021
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Employee engagement surveys are an effective method for gauging overall satisfaction with the company and individual roles. However, management must have a plan for what to do with employee engagement survey results immediately after the survey period closes to achieve maximum benefit from them. Interpreting survey results is the first step in creating an effective plan.

Employers that do not have the time, resources, or intention to follow up on survey results should not undertake a survey in the first place. Doing so could alienate and further disengage employees who used some of their valuable time to provide feedback that was important to them. Creating and distributing a survey and then not acting on the results can also cause small and mid-sized businesses to incur significant costs that they cannot justify later.

Three Best Practices for When Employee Survey Results Come Back:

How to Determine the Best Method to Analyze Employee Engagement Survey Results

Employee engagement survey results offer big-picture findings that show how the company is performing overall along with a more detailed breakdown of what is taking place in each pre-determined action area. Knowing how to sort through large amounts of data can be challenging, but following the best practices indicated below can help.

  • Break the raw numbers into overall survey findings for the entire company, survey findings for each individual group, industry norms, norms across the United States, and cross-group comparisons. Keep in mind that the purpose of breaking down numbers and percentages is to make comparisons to past surveys and understand how well the organization is doing with its goals.
  • The engagement survey results action plan also needs to account for employee write-in comments. Written comments provide important context for the numeric results to help employers gain a deeper understanding of cause and effect in several key areas. Small and mid-sized business leaders must take care not to overreact to feedback that seems harsh or take the opposite approach and dismiss it completely. The strongest criticism can offer the greatest opportunity to improve.
  • During the review process, one person should have the task of noting positive trends, negative trends, unanswered questions, and potential action areas. A weakness can be any area where the raw scores were lower than expected or obvious room for improvement exists. Any area with low scores that is critical to the vision and mission of the organization should take priority. At the same time, it is equally important to record successes and share them with employees later.

how to choose meaningful employee engagement survey objectives

How to Address Strengths and Weaknesses Uncovered by Employee Surveys

Having a list of company strengths and weaknesses is essential for moving forward with an engagement survey results action plan. The team reviewing survey results should talk about how the relationship between the strengths and weaknesses identified by the employee survey in terms of root causes and potential future actions.

Interventions should focus on the cause of specific problems since that will have the greatest impact on creating outcomes the employer would like to see. Smaller businesses cannot expect employees to feel more satisfied with their jobs if they take no action on what causes job dissatisfaction in the first place.

The employee survey results action plan should start with issues that the company has the time and resources to address immediately. Most companies will also identify employee concerns that they will not be able to address right away or at all. The action plan should include these items as well, along with an explanation of when or if the employer expects to address them.

With a list of problem areas in front of them, leaders of smaller businesses will need to prioritize in order of most important to least important. Issues that are critical to company operations and those with the biggest implications should be at the top of the list.

After identifying key issues, the leadership team needs to dig deeper to determine what changes need to occur to improve them. For example, will the company need to shift its organizational leadership, provide additional equipment, or improve training? Some changes need to come from the employees such as a change in attitude or beliefs. While achieving that goal can be more challenging, employers should take the opportunity to find out what causes the attitude or beliefs and whether there is anything they can do to inspire a shift in thinking.

The last step of creating a written engagement survey results action plan is to list the initiatives the small or mid-sized business plans to implement. Each statement should identify who is responsible for addressing the initiative, the specific actions that person will take, and the purpose of taking the action. An example statement could read like this: All department managers will hold quarterly meetings with their direct reports to discuss each employee’s career path.>

Although analyzing the results of employee engagement surveys is critical, the leadership team should not spend so much time on it that they fail to move forward with changes. Remember that the sooner employers convey the results to employees, the more likely they are to feel valued and heard.

Related: How to Conduct an Employee Engagement Survey

Communicating Survey Results to Employees

Once the survey closes, a Human Resources employee should email everyone who participated to thank them for their time and effort. The email should mention the percentage of people who completed a survey and provide a timeline for reviewing the results and implementing changes.

Senior leadership should have first access to the employee engagement survey results followed by employees in every department that participated in the survey. Each department manager should consider holding a team meeting to share specific areas of feedback they might find interesting.

One idea is to compare this year’s overall survey results to last year’s results and highlight three or more key areas of improvement. Most employees will also want to know the top areas of concern. Holding these meetings sends an important message to employees that the employer has heard their concerns even if it has not yet indicated how it will follow up with them.

Related: Benefits of Conducting an Employee Engagement Survey

Leadership teams of small and mid-sized businesses may also want to consider asking managers to hold focus groups with their teams. A focus group provides more time to review the results of the employee engagement survey. Another benefit of focus groups is that employees have their manager’s full attention to provide valuable insight regarding problem areas and offering suggestions for how to improve them.

Communicating with employees after an engagement survey should be an ongoing effort. Industry research indicates that the way small and mid-sized businesses communicate in the days and weeks after an employee survey is the biggest predictor for the level of participation they receive with the next survey. Lack of action and communication will also result in further employee disengagement.

When employers make changes due to feedback received on engagement surveys, employees impacted by the changes should know this. Otherwise, they may not connect the new expectation to survey results and are more likely to dismiss the importance of employee engagement surveys.

Schedule a Consultation with Axcet HR Solutions for Assistance with Employee Surveys

Based in Kansas City and serving the entire metropolitan area, Axcet HR Solutions offers a full suite of HR administrative services to small and mid-sized businesses. Please request a consultation to discover everything we offer and the benefits of partnering with our certified professional employer organization.

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