Four toxic ways you’re killing interest in your employee engagement surveys

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For some organisations, keeping the workforce engaged with the employee engagement survey process is a challenge in itself.

So, I’m sharing some of the most damaging, common mistakes that will bury your workforce’s interest levels.

1. You don’t take confidentiality seriously

An erosion of confidentiality (or even the perception by employees that confidentiality isn’t upheld) is the single biggest killer of ongoing survey engagement. Confidentiality is the invisible force that powers Hive – or any other employee feedback system for that matter. Without this, there’s a huge risk that employees feel as though they’ll be called out or reprimanded for voicing their opinion. As a result, response rates decline and the feedback will become increasingly more sterile.

I’ve often heard managers, leaders and employees state things like ‘I think I know who said that‘. My advice would be to lead people away from that mentality as readily as possible. Don’t even say it behind closed doors – it’s just not healthy.

Consider discussing confidentiality and the importance of it with anyone in your organisation that has access to the details comments and reports.

2. You don’t echo

Your workforce is willing to take the time to provide thoughts and feedback. Employees expect there to be an ‘echo’ in return. What was learnt? How did the organisation perform? What was said?

The frequency of that echo is really important too and it will vary depending on the type of organisation or culture you have. Large organisations should try to feedback some information into the workforce as frequently as possible.

In small companies, putting together a brief summary isn’t as resource intensive as one might think. Stick to the basics as a minimum:

  • this is how we scored,
  • these are the kind of things people said when we scored well;
  • when we scored poorly, this is what we noticed, and
  • this is what’s happening next.

Whatever your size, you can leave the real detail until a monthly/quarterly address or report.

A big part of maintaining engagement in your surveying initiatives is building trust. If you say that you’re going to feed back the information at a specified frequency, you’d better stick to that promise if you want continued trust from your workforce.

3. You don’t take action, just keep ticking those boxes

Imagine what the CEO might say if the Product Development Director of a consumer brand admitted that the company had spent time, energy and resource on surveying its customers said but didn’t do a thing with the information other than reading it. It just wouldn’t make sense.

In order for your employee engagement survey initiatives to be really worthwhile, consider them to be the starting point that gives you greater confidence to take informed actions. It’s what you do with the information that really counts. Ticking boxes isn’t going to improve employee retention, motivation or advocacy.

4. You keep changes on the down-low

If employees can’t see demonstrable evidence that their input is making a difference, the workforce will lose interest. It’s wrong to assume that change is obvious to employees and even more-so to assume that your workforce will know that changes are a direct result of their feedback. Be really clear about what’s been done. Putting effort into a ‘you said / we did’ line of communication between the organisation and its employees is one way of making sure that there is consistency.

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