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Employee (Engagement) Surveys – There really is only 1 issue!

Having communicated, administered, analyzed, hypothesized and capitulated about many employee surveys during my career, I feel well qualified to comment on the topic!  Whether you call them employee surveys or the newer, sexier, “Engagement Surveys” they are all basically the same thing.  The main difference is that if it is an engagement survey, you get charged a lot more for some 3rd party to give you your “engagement score” that you can then work on improving over the next year.

Talk to each otherFor the most part, getting managers together to analyze results and develop action plans in response to the survey is a very time-consuming and exhausting process.  I often compare it to the exercise of having to herd cats. You have a bunch of different people with different agendas and different departmental challenges all being asked to come up with action plans against an organizational wide survey.  At the end of the day, most companies don’t even hold managers accountable for the results, so why bother with action plans anyway! (But I digress…)

I have also heard about and seen firsthand the level of detail, information and “issues” that come out of these surveys.  Quite often, at first blush, in order to fix all that ails your organization, you would need a team of 8 HR professionals focused on just survey action items for the next 2.5 years to make any headway in improving your “score.”  The reality is that we tend to spread ourselves thin on a bunch of issues we (HR/Management) think are important when the reality is, what we think is important could be completely incongruent with what is important to our employees! (But that is a post for another day.)

Ok, so now for the secret sauce.  For most companies/surveys, once you have combed through your plethora of questions and issues, there really is only one true issue you need to focus on. So I will save you and your company thousands of dollars and tell you that your problem is communication.  There you go, that is all you really need to focus on.  I am talking about communication at all levels and in all forms.  Now, I didn’t say solving this issue would be easy but at least now you have a focus.

Focus on improving communication from your Sr. Leadership group down to your line managers and employees.  Work at improving 1:1 communication between managers and staff – i.e. as it pertains to their goals, career development, recognition for achievements, etc.  Focus on improving communication between departments and other offices.  Hell, just focus on talking to your people!

It is actually ridiculous the amount of managers that don’t talk to their people on a regular basis.  The only time their employees hear from them is when they did something wrong.  So, how about this for your survey action plan – be a human being!  Talk to your staff, get to know them, find out about their work challenges, what makes them tick and what gets in their way of doing good work.  This will be the easiest survey action plan you have ever done – just call it “Talking to Our People.”  Then, make sure you do it.  Your results will follow/improve…seriously.  As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of Master isolated images/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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