There is a lot of talk about survey fatigue in the employee engagement sphere, but what we often see more of is actually what we call "lack of action fatigue." Generally, a good, short survey should take no more than 5-10 minutes to complete. When we ask for feedback from people who complete our surveys, we find that most negative comments aren't about the survey experience itself but about perceived inaction despite survey results.
So, how do we change this? The most important thing to do is to take and communicate your organization's planned action(s) promptly after the survey. Below, we share four key tactics that you can implement to help you avoid issues related to survey inaction and miscommunication.
Four tips for ensuring the success of your employee surveys
1. Link actions to survey results (all the time)
Consistently and persistently mention when discussions and actions are based on the survey results.
That being said, make sure that your employees understand that actions are linked to the quantitative results and that comments are mainly used to help understand the overall results. In other words, not that every comment is going to have an action associated with it. We use surveys so that every respondent gets one vote, making the overall process more democratic than just acting on individual comments.
Effective employee surveys must link action and discussion to the survey, as well as set realistic expectations.
2. Acknowledge survey limitations
Communicate that the survey does not answer or solve everything. It would be best to have everyone's input to understand the overall results and everyone's involvement in coming up with actions that should be taken in response. Again, you should be careful to set realistic expectations and acknowledge that no survey is a perfect measurement instrument. This can also help you gain credibility and earn the trust of your workforce.
3. Set realistic progress expectations
The whole time you're linking your discussions and action planning, don't forget to mention that you're not expecting to have everything solved by the next survey or next time they are asked.
Your intention and aim should be to start working on the issues brought up and begin making some incremental changes. Progress itself is a positive outcome.
You can also communicate that culture and engagement will always be a moving target and that the aim is to maintain and improve as best you can all the time.
Communicate that if a team is disengaged, they may need to look at why other teams in the same company might be more engaged. You should encourage people to view survey results as potentially about themselves, too - not just a manager or a department leader, for example. You're all in it together.