Surveying your staff – especially on a more frequent basis – is one of the most effective ways to gain insights on what is and isn’t working well in your business, as well as how your staff are feeling in their roles. But once you get your employee survey results back, the big question is ‘how are you supposed to communicate them?’ Selecting the right questions and sending out the survey is just half the battle; the real work begins now…
The worst thing you can do – once your staff have kindly spent time filling out the survey – is not take any action at all, because it will then largely be seen as a tick box exercise. Your staff are taking part in the survey because they want their voices to be heard. The second is taking a long time to communicate the results and any subsequent actions. This approach will likely deter your staff and their efforts when it comes to taking part in future surveys. And, it can also create disengagement. If you want to create a thriving business where your people are firing on all cylinders, then they must know that you take their feedback seriously and that you care what they have to say.
Communicating your survey results
Depending on the quality of questions asked and the satisfaction levels of your employees, your engagement survey will likely have unearthed some – if not multiple – areas for improvement in your business. The matters raised can vary significantly, however, from a member of staff asking for better work equipment to multiple employees raising their concerns over a work process or even a specific member of staff. What’s important to remember here is that no business is perfect, and the most successful seek this kind of information to better themselves further.
Communicating engagement survey results can feel daunting if lots of negative points have surfaced, but the more surveys you do and report back, the easier it will become over time. If you try and brush unfavourable results under the carpet, this doesn’t make the problem go away…
So, now you have your feedback, it’s time to promptly re-lay that information back to your people in an insightful manner. You don’t have to go into the ‘nitty gritty’ straight away, but the initial, overall results must be shared hastily. The key here is to ensure your feedback can’t be missed. Sending one email skating over the findings simply isn’t enough.
The best practice is using a mixture of communication channels to get the messages out, such as:
• An email/emails from the CEO/CPO
• A key location in the company newsletter
• An infographic to share the top-level results – you could include this on a poster for example
• Adding the results to your company’s intranet
• Manager cascades
• Webinars or focus groups
• All-in team meetings
Steps you can take to communicate your results systematically
Depending on the size of your company and the complexity/quantity of negative or positive points raised from your engagement survey, you may need/want to have a procedure or system in place. This will ensure your results are communicated in the most effective way possible, without important points being missed.
1. Step one – a note of thanks
Your staff don’t have to take your survey. Therefore, it’s important to thank them for taking the time to do so. This message tends to be better received when it comes from a senior figure such as a CEO or CPO, and it should be delivered to all employees. In the email (or all-in meeting), you should confirm that the survey has now closed. Also, outline what you intend to do next – giving them a timeline.
Within this first stage of communication, you can opt to share some preliminary findings, high-level metrics, or the survey participation rate, for example. Some companies also find this an ideal time to remind their employees of the survey’s goals. For example, this could be to improve the overall employee experience, or to build a more inclusive workplace culture. If you’re a smaller company, and all located in the office, you could even provide treats to go with an in-person announcement.
2. Step two – communicating an initial overview of your survey results
Within two weeks of the survey closing, you will need to have shared an initial overview of the results. Full analysis will take time, but you can provide a few key themes relatively quickly. Here, you should (if you haven’t already done so) share participation numbers, key survey findings (both positives and negatives), and how you plan to follow up with these results/your plan of action. It’s important to be transparent but to also compare these figures to past survey results to give context. If you provide examples from the comments section, it’s showing that your people’s responses matter to you. Try to keep the focus of this communication on more broad organisational trends. This step in the process is from leadership to all employees.
Top tip: Ensure you review feedback at least three times before drawing any conclusions. It may be tempting to become defensive at first, but after re-reading, you may be able to view feedback more objectively.
3. Step three – discuss employee survey results with the leadership team
At the three-week point, it’s time to dig deeper. Your employee survey results need to be analysed thoroughly with your leadership team. And you must come to a mutual agreement on how you’re going to tackle any challenges or emerging issues. The best format for this kind of discussion between HR and leadership is a presentation meeting. This will encourage open conversation and gentle debate.
Depending on what data you are analysing, you could use this meeting to discuss your company’s overall engagement/employee experience score. This meeting can also be used to discuss any emerging department or organisational trends. If your engagement score is low for example, then you know this is something you need to work on going forwards. It’s also important to highlight the strengths and weaknesses identified in the survey. If your survey results have revealed many issues, pick a few to begin with so you don’t overwhelm your team or yourself. Try to embrace continuous improvement in incremental stages.
Top tip: Focus on the areas of the survey results which you can influence. It may be tempting to zoom in on the lowest scoring questions (usually around pay and benefits) but this may be outside your direct influence.
4. Step four – detailed results to be announced
Now that you have reviewed the employee survey results in more detail, this information can be presented to your employees. It might be helpful to produce some nicely designed graphs and a dashboard, so the results are easy and clear to see. When communicating the results and your takeaways, it’s important to mention the actions already taken. As well as this, discuss the areas you have chosen to focus on, and any future follow up plans. This should be done within one-to-two months of the survey ending. This communication is from senior leadership to all employees.
Top tip: Don’t forget to celebrate your wins as this is good for team morale and will help you to deliver a balanced message. This will also help your people to feel positive while the challenges are being addressed.
5. Step five – discuss survey results at a team level
Once the detailed survey results have been announced, it’s time to discuss them at team level across your company. Employee surveys are confidential, so there should be no risk of singling any person and their response out. Nor should you aim to do so! At this level, the employee survey results can be discussed by managers with their teams. Managers should be sharing both the negative and positive points raised, as well as strengths and weaknesses. Managers should also be initiating dialogue and encouraging teams to ask questions and give their perspective on the findings. It’s also important to thank them again for taking part. The aim is to work together to identify areas for improvement and to clearly communicate what is being improved on the back of the results. This includes how the company is also doing this.
Top tip: To help teams feel more involved, invite them to take ownership of agreed actions and make changes so you aren’t the only person owning this. This also helps to foster trust.
So, what now?
Once these steps have been followed, it’s time to close the feedback loop and then repeat, repeat, repeat with the next survey! When actions have been completed or milestones reached, it’s important to celebrate these at team meetings and one-to-ones. This will help your employees feel valued. Use “You said, we did” branding to make it clear that the initiatives have been delivered thanks to employee feedback. It’s also just as important to keep teams updated on how things are going and if there is anything you need to do to re-adjust or re-align to meet your goals.
It’s important to have speed, consistency, and structure when it comes to communicating your survey results. You should also be demonstrating and showing employees that you are willing to learn from them. You are one big team after all.
If you would like to run more frequent and effective employee engagement surveys, or are perhaps yet to run one and would like a demo of the WorkBuzz platform to see how we can help you and your business, simply follow the link or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. We also invite you to get in touch if you’d like some more help on how to communicate your individual employee survey feedback.