preparing for an engagement survey

If you are planning to run an engagement survey, a rigorous preparation needs to happen. We previously touched the importance of preparation. We also described the importance of communication in engagement research.

Here is a quick step by step guide you can use to plan a successful engagement survey.

Firstly, define your objective

What is your goal?

Running an engagement survey with the sole purpose of exploring employee perception is not recommended. If you want to see positive change then the survey must be followed by actions. Actions that will improve the areas identified as having a negative impact in the organization. A survey not followed by specific actions will generate negative results. Why? Because, when answering the survey employees offer more than just responses. They offer time, honesty and more important trust. Take a moment and think of a moment when you felt that your trust was deceived or your time wasted. This is the case for action and good communication.  In conclusion, this type of initiative must be implemented when there is an assumed decision of acting upon the results.

So, how can we set or refine our objectives?

Firstly, we need to understand which are the most pressing issues faced by the company. Are we failing to attract top talent or do we have issues retaining top performers, are we going to navigate a disrupting period (merger / acquisition) or the market context has shifted? Answering these questions will help you understand what areas need more focus. Also, they will add more specificity to the questions and answers in the survey. Which translates into more qualitative data, insights and measures.

Secondly, we need to:

do research and tailor some assumptions

We should check the data. A good source of information can be from other surveys that collect data from different employee lifecycle moments. Some of these sources can be: onboarding surveys, probation evaluations, pulse surveys, exit surveys. List the main issues identified. The attention should also be shifted towards different analysis like: employee turnover, compensation analysis, performance analysis, etc. This will add more clarity towards the areas to be explored, the questions to be asked and the predefined responses design. For example, if we know that we pay below the market median but our turnover is lower than the market benchmark we should concentrate a bit more on the emotional perspective.

As soon as the objectives are clearly defined and set the next step is:

Designing the questionnaire.

The current market environment offers a lot of tools and frameworks. Additionally, there are suppliers that offer standard engagement surveys. Not being able to modify the questionnaire can be limitation and usually don’t offer the possibility to make the most out of the opportunity. The necessity for customization is present. To better understand employee perceptions it’s recommended to use an adaptive questionnaire. This translates into a platform that can technically adapt the questionnaire depending on employee responses and demographics. There are certain benefits added by a feature like this:  offers the capacity to ask additional questions and drill down into respondent perspective, helps avoid respondent fatigue by skipping questions that do not fit previous responses.  Furthermore, adaptive questionnaire allows addressing additional questions to employees that belong to different groups.   

Although a standard questionnaire is not recommended a base pool of questions will ease the design process.

This will also ease the temptation to combine different surveys and examine multiple subjects. Remember, always have in mind your objectives and develop following the factors that influence engagement. (link)

There is a lot to be said regarding

question-and-answer design

We will cover the topic in a future blog.

The general wisdom guidelines are:

  1. Clarity – ask clear questions, that are easy to understand and interpreted the same way by all respondents
  2. Use wording that is specific rather than general
  3. Don’t ask multiple things in one question
  4. Use only a limited number of open-ended questions – they are really hard to analyse especially when the respondent base is high
  5. Use clear response options that are exhaustive and mutual exclusive
  6. Avoid leading questions that direct respondents towards a certain answer
  7. Avoid questions with single or double negations

Quick reminder: Engagement surveys need to be anonymous, so the ability to connect an employee with their answers is restricted. This doesn’t automatically means reporting restricted capability. Platforms have the capability to upload demographics for each employee. These demographics will represent data segmentations available in the reporting area. Choose the demographics that best fit your purpose and understanding of issues previously identified.

The fourth step is

creating a communication plan.

You should plan the messages, channels and people involved in the info dissemination.

When designing the communication campaign, some questions need to be asked. A sincere response is needed:

  • What is the history with surveys?
  • What about engagement surveys history?
  • What is the employee experience on offering feedback via surveys?
  • How often they receive survey requests?
  • What measures were taken and can be specifically linked to the rolled surveys?

The sincerity and clarity of this assessment will determine your results. It will influence the percentage of survey completion and quality of responses. It will also determine your positioning. The right messages can overcome a bad survey history. So, be sincere as this will generate a great communication campaign.

This leads us to closing the article with a previously used statement: Do an engagement survey only if you are going to take action based on the responses.