When I ask industry leaders if they listen to their employees, nearly all of them say, "yes, absolutely." But when I talk with their employees, they often don't feel heard.
Where is the disconnect happening?
When I ask these leaders how they listen to their employees, they often talk about visiting their different offices (or jobsites), navigating employee issues, and knowing facts about their folks, like their favorite football team (in case you were wondering, I root for the Washington Huskies and Seattle Seahawks... and have for decades). Some leaders even talk about exit interviews, engagement questionnaires, and participating in the Best Places to Work surveys.
With these responses, my interest starts to perk up a bit more, so I will often dive a little deeper and ask what they are doing with information they are hearing...
And that is when I almost invariably hear that they can do a better job taking action with the information they have learned.
Listening is important, yes. But, if you aren't going to do anything with the information, why bother listening in the first place! The worst thing an organization can do after conducting a survey (as formal or informal as you want it to be) is: nothing.
The worst thing an organization can do is: nothing.
I am not suggesting that you do everything your employees tell you to do (or ask for) either, but there are some steps that organizations can do to take action on the information they have gathered. Organizations should do three things for every survey they conduct:
Establish a plan (or rough schedule) prior to sending out a survey so you know what to expect after the survey is wrapped up. This doesn't need to be super complex, but the plan should set dates for:
the survey launch
the survey close out
when you'll be reviewing the data
when you are going to decide what to do
when you'll communicate back to your employees
Decide what you are going to do with the data that you receive (ideally this is through a tool that enables this... have I mentioned how great the Qualtrics tools are lately?)
Communicate back to your employees about what you heard and what you are going to do about it.
Let's walk through an informal example... you host an All Hands meeting where you bring in all of your employees to walk through the upcoming business plan and enjoy some team building activities. Afterwards, you want to gather a little feedback on how the meeting went, so you can improve the experience for next year. While you are in the planning stages for the event, put together what you want your employees to takeaway from the meeting. Generate a few survey questions from these key takeaways to ask during the follow up to ensure your event hit the mark . Next, put a few dates out there on the calendar to distribute the survey, and to bring the planning committee back together to review the feedback. Lastly, send an email out to all of your employees with the good things that happened, as well as the improvement actions that you will take for your next All Hands Meeting. In other words, send a message to your employees that infers, "we heard you and now we are going to do something differently."
Circling back to your employees is the key step in ensuring your employees feel heard and not just that you are "listening."
Not quite sure where to start? No problem, let us help you put together a customized approach to your survey follow up! Click here to book a free half hour call to discuss the challenges you are facing and real solutions to help you.