Conducting employee surveys offers great rewards but it can also be tricky. A survey is a significant communication tool – at least significant enough that you should consider some implications carefully before deploying one.
A common mistake made is to think that survey consist only of collecting feedback. That is one of the many things in the process. Attention should be paid to pre-survey communication of survey goals, anonymity, etc. and post-survey communication of findings. Such communication must come from the highest levels of the organization’s leadership.
- A survey communicates the message that management/organization’s leadership is interested in listening to what employees have to say. This is a positive message to get out to employees.
- Surveys set expectations. You must carefully control those expectations to make sure they are consistent with what you are able to deliver. Carefully examine each question in the survey. Pre-survey communications are important in informing employees about the goal behind the survey.
- Surveys provide an opportunity to enhance credibility with employees: Start by candidly sharing survey findings. Share both strengths and areas of weakness. Communicate exactly what employees can expect to see about those areas in which employees would like to see changes. If no change is possible, consider candidly sharing the reasons behind such decisions.
- Communicate, Educate: Considering asking questions about utilization of benefits. This gives you a chance to list all the benefits provided to employees. This may be the only time some employees review all benefits available to them.
- Build a culture of trust: Will your employees share their thoughts with you without fear of retribution if they complained? Do they trust you to be good custodians of their feedback? It is clear that if employees do not sufficiently trust the organization’s leadership, the usefulness of an employee survey is limited. Trust cannot be built overnight. You may alleviate some concerns by making survey responses anonymous. Due to only a handful yet prominent negative headlines, online surveys are considered less anonymous than paper surveys. Employees may suspect you will be able to track their IP addresses and link individual survey responses to individual employees. As uncomfortable and inconvenient it may be to you, it helps to start with respect for such fears. Invest in educating employees about how the data is collected and stored. Zarca Interactive designed a special feature called anonymous online surveys. Once survey data has been received, management must ensure that no employee is ever singled out or identified for their feedback. Over time a culture of trust will emerge which will improve the quality of the feedback as well as contribute positively to employee morale.