The first step to improving anything is to measure it, and employee engagement is no different.
Employee engagement surveys can be a great way to help you measure engagement, but all too often, engagement doesn’t improve.
It must be annoying for organizations to spend so much time, money and resources on an initiative that doesn’t boost engagement one bit. It’s equally annoying for employees to invest time and emotions in a survey that doesn’t change anything.
Right now, for most organizations, the process seems broken.
Measuring engagement shouldn’t be a one-time thing. It must be consistent—ideally every week. This will give you a real-time picture of your team’s engagement level and help you react before it’s too late.
Conducting surveys less often will lead to skewed results, thanks to uncommon events such as mergers and layoffs. The financial and emotional effects of disengagement are too serious to measure only once or twice a year. It should happen much more often.
According to research from Gallup, action planning after a survey has considerable effects on engagement. One statement to which Gallup sought responses in its Q12 survey was this: “Action plans from the last survey have had a positive impact on my workplace.”
Gallup found that workgroups in the top quartile increased their employee engagement scores by an average of 10 percent. In contrast, workgroups in the lowest quartile on the action-planning item saw their engagement scores decrease by an average of 3 percent. The groups that strongly agreed their action plans had a positive impact showed significant increases in employee engagement levels.
Step 1: Remove the fear
You should start action planning once the results are in, and everyone should be involved.
Don’t leave employees in the dark. Not only do they deserve to be included, but they have the best ideas on how to improve things.
A crucial part of this process is making sure employees are comfortable being open and honest. It’s your job to remove any potential fear by explaining why you did the survey, what you want to achieve and how you want to improve engagement.
Once this fear is removed and employees feel comfortable saying what’s really on their minds, you can move on to the next step.
Step 2: Explain the survey results
Now it’s time to explain to everyone how the survey went, even if the results weren’t amazing.
Do this team by team or with the entire company, but it’s important that everyone is aware of the results and which questions got the lowest or highest responses. Then you can start to discuss why the results are the way they are.
The most important thing in this step is to be as informal as possible. Avoid confusing buzzwords and technical jargon. Keep it real.
Step 3: Brainstorm
This is the fun part. You should all brainstorm a few ideas to improve things.
Focus on improving one or two key problem areas. If you focus on too many areas at once, it will be much harder to track your success. Pick the two lowest items, and focus on improving those.
Step 4: Set goals
Now that you have some ideas, you can start testing one or two initiatives. If you have a process for setting and measuring goals, that’s fine, but lately I’ve been researching Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), which is the way Google sets goals.
This video explains OKRs well:
It comes down to setting measurable goals, communicating priorities to the team and measuring impact.
Step 5: Follow up
Follow up regularly on your action plan to see whether you have to make any adjustments. Check with employees to see what, if anything, they would improve. You should become obsessed with improving engagement through the action planning.