Looking for Employee Feedback? Use These 10 Employee Survey Best Practices
Why Feedback Matters
I think it’s pretty well-known now that tapping into the employee voice and learning what your people want is an important practice in internal communication. But where I think there is still a lot of room to grow is: 1.) Building employee feedback programs that are consistently used rather than ad hoc, 2.) Asking the right questions, and 3.) Acting on the feedback consistently and in a timely manner.
“But internal comms pros are so busy!” Having been a team of two communicating to over 70,000 employees in the past, I can personally attest to this. IC is an incredibly busy and typically small team at most organizations, so sometimes things like reporting back employee survey results can fall through the cracks.
But I would make the case that gathering employee feedback is actually going to be a time-saving initiative for your team in the long run. Conducting consistent employee surveys and establishing focus groups can take some time up front to set up, but these activities:
- Provide you with qualitative data to take back to leadership about what’s working well…or not so well.
- Eliminate the guesswork surrounding your key questions: are we engaging our teams? Are we providing enough information? Are there tools they would prefer to use? What isn’t the data showing us?
- Will show your employees you care about their feedback, improving employee engagement, resonance with your message, and, in the long run, culture. They don’t get to see all the work you do in the background measuring and crunching the numbers. But asking them what they think and giving them platforms for two-way communication goes a long way.
So, how do you get better at making two-way feedback activities a habit? And how do you do it well?
How to Make Employee Feedback Gathering (and Sharing the Results) a Habit
1. Get it on your editorial calendar. You do this with every other communication that comes through your team. And include other teams in the process of surveying and gathering feedback — one survey can help multiple teams get a sense of how things are going. This goes for the communication of the survey itself but also the follow up of that survey.
2. Set realistic goals for feedback gathering. Don’t expect to create focus groups at every level of your organization, set up a survey cadence, and get buy-in from leadership to do it in the first place overnight. Take it one step at a time and start small. Maybe you survey one group to start—like your line / field managers. Or maybe you think it would be more manageable to get a focus group set up. Start there and then progress as your team gets your arms around phase one of feedback gathering.
3. Set a cadence for sharing your survey results, but be realistic here too. You don’t have to have the results of your survey and your plan for what you’re going to do about it ready the week after your survey closes. But you can’t just let it close and then say nothing for months and then eventually never say anything. Like any program, you have to do follow-up. You know you’re busy, but if you plan ahead to know that you’ll need meetings to discuss the results, focus groups to review brainstorm ideas to address feedback, etc, you can commit to a timeline for follow-up. It might look something like this:
- First Week: Survey goes out
- Second Week: Reminder that survey closes at the end of the week
- Third Week: Thanks for taking our survey! Your feedback matters to us. We’re going through the results and will share them with you soon.
- Fourth Week: Share just the results and make a point to say you are taking that feedback and putting a plan together. Admit that it might be a few weeks before they know the action that will be taken. And let them know that part of that wait period is that you’ll be engaging with focus groups to make sure your plan to address the findings is adequate.
- Week(s) – a Month Later: Share the plan with them for how you plan to address their feedback and provide a place where they can ask questions or comment.
4. Get executive leadership buy-in. For feedback gathering to really become second nature at your organization, you’re going to need an executive sponsor. It’s your job to prove to them why it’s so important and convert them into a champion of amplifying the employee voice.
5. Benchmarking is key. Using the results of your employee survey to create a set of benchmarks becomes the guidepost to rolling out additional programs or channels to drive employee satisfaction with their job, career path or understanding of company goals. Being able to show that historical trend as your survey program evolves will strengthen your position with leadership.
How to Get Better at Writing Employee Surveys
6. Don’t go it alone. Even if your internal comms team has a few members to review the survey questions, we still recommend you get outside feedback. We particularly recommend showing the questions to your focus groups—who better represent the employee population. This will make sure the questions are worded in a way that makes sense and will ensure you’re including all the right questions.
7. Write questions that align with your goals. Don’t just survey to survey. What are you hoping to learn? Why? Are you asking the right questions, or are those questions worded in such a way that will give you helpful feedback?
8. Try to avoid writing surveys that take a long time to complete. You want to make sure it is easy for your employees to take the survey—remember you’re getting feedback from hourly team members and field managers. They’re busy too! And you want to ensure your people make it to the end of your survey.
9. Revise your surveys like you would any other piece of writing. Put your writers hat on here and get out that red pen. Are the questions written as clearly as they can be? Are they vague or are they so specific you won’t get much out of them? For multiple choice, have you provided the right choices? Are all the questions necessary? Are there questions that are missing? Do you need some if/then logic added to the survey to clarify certain responses? EDITING TIP: Print out the survey questions you’ve written and read them out loud to check for clarity and simplicity!
10. Consult an expert. If you work at a larger enterprise, it’s likely you have a resident expert on this topic. Tap into that and partner with them. But if you work at a smaller organization that doesn’t have this kind of internal resource, consult the expertly made templates that exist in most major survey platforms. Qualtrics and SurveyMonkey are just two examples of survey tools (that have free versions) that come with templates. Need to launch an employee engagement survey? They have custom made templates for that that you can make changes to based on your specific needs.
At theEMPLOYEEapp, we integrate with major survey platforms to create a seamless employee survey or quiz taking experience. And that’s the next major key to launching a successful survey or two-way feedback initiative: making it accessible. You’ll never get the data or the feedback you need from the frontlines of your organization, if they aren’t getting your messages in the first place.
Want to learn how theEMPLOYEEapp may be able to help? Request a demo today.
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