Friday, 29 October 2010

Successful Employee Surveys

by WFC Resources

Jobs Vacancy, Employment, Employment Jobs

The August 2006 issue of Human Resource Executive had a wonderful article about employee surveys. It made the point that if they're done right, their impact can be significant. But if they don't produce action, that impact could be a negative one and you're better off not doing them. When we design a survey for an employer, we make sure the questions aren't what we call "so what" questions – questions that produce answers you can't do anything about. Experts here agree that the answers should be able to produce action.

Here are a few more tips from this article, and from our own 20-year experience.

• Michael Hinshaw, Mcorp, suggests you begin by asking why you need a survey, what you hope to learn and how that will affect the way your organization operates.

• Mark Royal, Hay Group, says "the survey must be positioned as something to help managers accomplish things already on their plate." Give them a chance to have input into its design.

• Sherry Whiteley, Intuit, says their surveys are followed up with chats to get more information in important areas. Then they implement initiatives based on employee feedback.

• Barbara Brannon, Playmore Corp., suggests re-asking the same questions three or four times over the year and charting improvements or decreases, then tracking the activities that drove the responses up or down.

• Kurt Twining, Freescale Semiconductor, suggests tracking information using multiple filters, such as location, function and specific demographics. That's a way to identify which units are excelling in which areas, so others can tap them for guidance as they work to improve their own performance in those areas.

We suggest making the survey the third step in a four-step information-gathering process. Begin with senior management interviews and make them mutually educational; your number one priority will be to find out what's keeping them up at night so you can work on finding ways to alleviate their pain and link your final recommendations to what they tell you.

But you can also take advantage of the one-on-one opportunity to 1) let them know what competitors are doing in the way of creating a more supportive and flexible culture, 2) tell them what you're hoping to do, and 3) find out what they need to know in order to be convinced.

Next, interview top HR staff to find out what policies and programs they may be concerned about, what they know is working and what they suspect is not, what they may be thinking about adding, and would like feedback about.

Use the information you've gathered to help in the survey design. That will be number 3 in the 4-step process. And to get ready for the 4th step, we sometimes let employees know on the survey that we'll be conducting focus groups and are open to volunteers.
The last step in the organization information-gathering is focus groups. Make them representational, including groups from all locations and from all levels, supervisory as well as entry-level.

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