Sharing Employee Engagement Survey Results

Once you’ve collected employee feedback, it’s time to do something useful with it. This is where the process starts to add value back to the organization. One of the primary components of this phase is sharing results.

It’s important to share results with everyone who provided feedback through the survey so that they can see the value in participating and buy into the process. Workplaces that share results well are much more likely to make meaningful change.

These five easy steps will help engage people in the process:

  • Thank everyone
  • Present to executives
  • Share overall results with all employees
  • Share results with team leads (managers)
  • Share team results with employees

Message, story and outcomes

We’ll walk through the above five proven steps to sharing survey results. First, however, it is worth noting some guiding ideas. These are not activities that are separate from the five steps, but rather they can guide the effective execution of the overall communication plan.

Sources

Where possible, let leaders present the message to employees instead of having it come from the People and Culture (HR) team. Guide leaders to effectively communicate the relevance of results, including the overall organizational themes and focus.

This becomes especially important at a team level. We’ll address why specifically later.

Connect engagement surveys to business outcomes

At each stage in the communication of survey results, try to link employee feedback to business objectives. Connect the survey results to operational considerations, organizational goals and key results. Context can have a big impact on how the employee feedback process is perceived. Make it clear that employee engagement surveys are genuinely relevant rather than a check-the-box activity.

This feeds directly into the next recommendation: when communicating the links between survey results and business outcomes, don’t simply list a series of correlations. Tell compelling stories with the results of your survey to formulate a data-driven narrative.

Data-driven narrative

Using your data in compelling stories that explain findings makes the process more relatable for employees. When you convey findings in a way that resonates with people, you make it easier for them to see the pathway to effective action. And that makes it easier to inspire positive change. Structuring your reporting so that you identify the insights you uncovered in the context of organizational goals and your vision enables people to see how improvements will impact themselves and the organization.

Five steps to share results

Involving employees throughout the results rollout will make you more successful in implementing changes based on engagement survey feedback.

In addition to the messaging considerations already outlined, care should be given to who gets what and when.

To get the most out of sharing results, use these five steps as a guide:

  • Thank everyone
  • Present to executives
  • Share overall results with all employees
  • Share results with team leads (managers)
  • Share team results with employees

Thank all participants

Keep employees involved in the results rollout process by sending a simple email as soon as the survey closes. The closure of a survey is a great opportunity for positive communication that kicks off the results-sharing process.

Content plan for the communication

Begin simply with a brief thank you, offer a bit of detail about the survey’s effectiveness, and include a roadmap for what’s to come.

Immediately after a survey closes, you might want to take time to digest some of the data.

Still, there are certain things that it’s okay to report instantly, including:

  • thanks to all survey participants
  • the percentage of employees who participated, or number of total surveys completed
  • the next steps employees can expect

When talking about next steps, briefly say what will be done with the survey results and when employees can expect to hear more about them.

Present to executives

Some organizations provide the results to executives immediately upon survey close, while others have their People and Culture (HR) team prepare a summary for executives. Either way, it’s essential that the executive team be well informed about the insights from the results.

Standard structure for an executive presentation

The presentation should include:

  • Background
  • Past efforts
  • Engagement scores
  • Overview
  • Business context
  • Narrowing the focus
  • Demographic spreads
  • Comments
Background

Explain the methodology or process for capturing feedback

Past efforts

Discuss what was learned from earlier efforts, and what actions were taken.

Engagement scores

Announce the current year overall employee engagement score, then detail the items that comprise it.

Overview

Give a broad sense of emerging strengths and opportunities. Highlight the most favorable and least favorable scores revealed by the survey.

Narrow the focus

Highlight the top drivers of your desired outcome. Use real-time driver analysis (this will be included in the employee engagement tool you’re using) to determine potential actions that may tangibly improve outcomes.

Business context

Compare results to previous survey efforts and available external benchmarks and consider the broader business context. Some questions you may ask are:

  • How do results support current key business initiatives?
  • What new information has been learned from the employee feedback that may inform adjustments in resources, enablement or training to facilitate achievement of organization goals?
Demographic spreads

Drill down into demographics to understand the parts of the organization where action on the survey-revealed focus areas will be most important and have the greatest value. You can also search for outliers that have particularly strong scores to celebrate and share learning with other parts of the organization.

Comments

Summarize constructive comments received via the survey to further focus areas and help executives understand the underlying issues more deeply. If you have text analytics tools available, you’ll be able to save valuable time uncovering themes in qualitative feedback.

Get consensus

Get executive consensus for one or two areas to focus on for high impact. If executives can’t agree on one or two organization-wide focus areas, a simple voting process can work well to get majority agreement.

Alternative presentation strategies

The steps above are tried and tested–they work for most organizations. That said, some companies prefer to start with business context and then filter the results based on business need first.

To decide which presentation strategy best suits the situation, find the way that best uses results to tell a story that relates to key business issues. Strategies that achieve this are most successful in getting executive buy-in, engagement, ownership and action.

All-hands communication of overall results

Once you have shared the results with executives, move on to summarize and share key findings with employees. Where appropriate, there can also be considerable benefits to giving employees access to the overall results.

Give a summary of results in an all-hands meeting, or an organization-wide communication. Then, make the summary report accessible to all employees, letting them read the results at their own discretion.

When sharing in an all-hands or all-employee message, here are some of the key messages to share.

  • Start with context
  • Overview of key findings
  • Description of focus area(s)
  • Foster engagement
  • Review roadmap

Start with context

Explain the circumstances and objectives that make this entire process relevant and important. Why have you gathered employee feedback? What is going on in the business? How will employee feedback shape key business decisions and initiatives?

Overview of key findings

If you have shared the results with executives, you can pull some key messages out of that meeting and share that summary with everyone. Make sure to share some results as well either by giving access to an online report or by sharing top and bottom scores.

Description of focus areas

Make sure to share with employees what the executive team sees as the organization-wide focus area(s). Provide not only a description of the focus area but also share why that has been selected.

Foster engagement

Involve employees as much as possible. Executives may have narrowed the focus based on organizational strategy and direction, but employees will likely need to be involved in the subsequent actions, so involving them in the process from this point forward will lead to more effective action.

When sharing results, ask for volunteers to be involved in future ideation sessions to understand focus areas more deeply and identify potential solutions.

Review roadmap

Provide employees with a good sense of what they can expect in terms of next steps both as they relate to overall organization focus areas and actions as well as access to team level results.

Share results with team leads

Shortly following a release of the overall organization’s results, give team leaders access to the results that are directly relevant to their reports.

When sharing results with team leads, be sure to include:

  • Access to all team results
  • Context (external and internal comparisons)

Access to team results

Give your managers full access to the results for their team. Depending on team size, you may decide whether to include demographic cuts or comments. Beyond that, share everything else. This full disclosure creates a real sense of ownership.

If you are using a more advanced online reporting tool like Culture Amp Employee Engagement, inbuilt algorithms can help managers to efficiently focus on relevant and actionable results.

Context

As well as full access to their own results, highlight key elements from the overall organizational results. It is helpful for managers to be able to compare themselves with other parts of the organization. This lets managers make sense of their results and formulate team level focus areas worth pursuing.

Share specific results with teams

Employees will have heard about the overall organization results via the all-hands communications. Still, they will be naturally curious about how their own team compares and whether there are any specific implications that will impact them.

This final step involves a more specific message, tailored to the concerns of each team. To get the message across effectively, you will likely rely heavily on the participation, co-operation and dedication of managers.

Goal of team communications

The goal of sharing the results at a team level is to help the team understand how their feedback is similar or different from the rest of the organization and what unique areas they might need to focus on.

Organizational expectation of manager participation

When sharing the results with individual managers (as in step four), make it clear that the managers are expected to share the results with their teams. Managers should take responsibility for involving team members to identify actions that will address any team-specific focus areas.

Manager approaches

Managers should share results with employees using the methods that they know to be most effective for their team.

Some managers prefer to summarize the results and report to their team as a group. Other managers will take a completely transparent approach. This involves sharing all the results openly and letting team members formulate their own conclusions.

Summary

These five steps to share survey results can be applied in any workplace. While organizational size and shape may make it necessary to tailor the methods, the basic five steps remain a valuable core framework. In practice, it’s all about timely communications, ordered for optimal effectiveness.

The process of sharing can start immediately after the survey closes, with a general thank you message. Start communication of results quickly to make the best of momentum. In the same breath, you can set the scene for what is to come. Report on participation rates to give some instant insight into the broad relevance of the process. Explain how the data will be used, and let folks know when they can expect further news.

Next, give leaders access to the results they need to make appropriate decisions and take appropriate actions. They will be responsible for implementing actions, so it is essential that they develop buy-in at an early stage. Facilitate this by enabling them to analyze and share the results within the organization.

Then, move on to sharing results with all employees. When communicating broadly, it often pays to synthesize the data into easily consumed chunks. When reporting more specific results to discrete groups, make use of managers as intermediaries. That will allow teams to formulate the best ways they can use the results to improve employee engagement and address overall organizational outcomes.

This five-step process for sharing survey results has been tried and tested at hundreds of organizations across the world. Still, it is only part of the post-survey undertakings. It is pivotal that all communications are backed up by a real action plan that translates findings into business strategies. For more on that, take a look at the People Geek Guide to Post-Engagement Survey Action.

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