Have you taken your company’s pulse lately?

An employee engagement survey can be a great tool to check the temperature of your culture. When done right, the survey can help you understand the needs of your employees, which in turn benefits productivity, job satisfaction, and supports employee retention. It is also an excellent tool to help you calibrate the quality of your leadership as well as your employee relations and talent management programs.

Before you start, however, ensure that the management team is ready to act on the critical feedback you will get. Then decide what it is you need to know. Do you want to better understand how your employees view their relationship with management, understand and support the company’s strategic direction, or learn what aspects of their work environment, compensation and benefits, work assignments, and opportunities for learning and advancement are working (or not working)?

Next, determine how you will create, disseminate, tabulate, and communicate the survey process and results. If you are creating your own survey, consider gathering employees from different areas of the company to formulate the survey questions and include them in the employee communications process to encourage participation. This team can also be instrumental in reviewing the survey results and providing feedback about how those results should be communicated and acted upon.

Another option is to use one of the many online engagement survey tools available in the marketplace. While the questions may not be as personalized to your company issues, you can get the surveys, along with the tabulated results, done quickly.

If you do create the survey in-house, consider these best practice tips:

  • First, determine whether the survey identifies the respondents. Confidential surveys typically yield higher response rates and include more candid feedback. With these surveys, be sure to include department or other group data to assist you later in analyzing feedback and specific action items that may be tied to one group. The decision to include identifying information is generally tied to the level of openness and trust in an organization’s culture.

  • Ask relevant questions. Ask questions that employees can — and want to — answer about their employment relationship with the company.

  • Make it simple and easy to complete. Keep the survey short. Employees may not take the time to complete a lengthy survey with in-depth questions. Save those types of questions for the follow-up action planning.

  • Provide an open comment area. Give employees an opportunity to comment at the end of the survey and add any additional information not covered by the questions.

  • Make the results actionable. Follow up on survey results so employees know they are heard and appreciated.

Encourage participation by using incentives or contests. With more feedback, you will have a better picture of your employees’ engagement level. Train your leaders so that they are prepared to use the survey feedback as a gift to improve performance and have productive feedback and performance improvement planning sessions.

Most importantly, do not ask for employee feedback unless you are willing to do something with the results. Your employees will expect you to implement changes and take action. Let them know how much you value and respect them by listening and acting on their opinions and ideas.

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