The Gatehouse Blog

Responding to an employee survey

Over the last few weeks I’ve been talking to a number of people who have recently undertaken their first employee survey and are now grappling with the results. What they all want to know is how they should respond to it – what they should do to communicate the results and act on them.

Here’s a very brief summary of the key points we discussed:

  1. Respond quickly – don’t sit on the survey results for six months
  2. Publish a clear and simple summary of the findings – make it as visual as possible and focus on themes, rather than detail. Make some observations and recommend next steps.
  3. Use some sort of survey brand (e.g. ‘Have Your Say’) to badge the programme and use the brand whenever you communicate something that relates to the survey or the issues it uncovered.
  4. Be honest – resist the temptation to put a positive spin on the results or to hide or disguise negatives.
  5. Prioritise the issuesbe clear about where you’ll focus on making improvements and where you’ll leave things well alone (reward is often flagged as an issue in first surveys, though it can rarely be changed in a major way).
  6. ‘Cut’ the results to see trends by department, business unit or location, but….
  7. …avoid ‘paralysis by analysis’ – once you have properly analysed and reviewed the survey results use your judgement and knowledge of the organization to draw sensible conclusions.
  8. Use focus groups to get behind the headlines, and as an integral part of your response plan.
  9. Involve your line managers – brief them and get them to own local action planning. 
  10. Use the results as a benchmark against which to track future progress.

Some of these points are obvious, but you’d be surprised how often they’re ignored. I’m still staggered by the number of organisations that invest large sums of money in a survey and then don’t bother to respond to it in any visible or meaningful way.

For more on surveys, check out the free articles from Angela Sinickas and Rodney Gray.