Listening to your employees is important. But for most companies, the employee experience survey is not yet an integrated part of the day-to-day management, and many only perform one annual group of employee engagement survey. However, systematic feedback from the employees is important, and you should therefore listen both more often and more broadly to your employees.
If you want to generate better employee experiences in your company, it would be very beneficial to collect systematic feedback from your employees. We are already helping more and more companies with listening to their employees more often and more broadly to their, and we can see that it actually pays off.
Our EX Survey shows that the organizations that listen to their employees and perform ongoing surveys on the experiences across the entire employee journey and are able to act quickly and with agility to the insights were better able to improve the employee experience during the last 3 years.
However, the survey must be performed in an intelligent way and regularly throughout the year. This means that you need to determine a suitable frequency and relevant breadth of the survey to support your needs. A broader and a more frequent employee experience survey is the second of the four cornerstones that you should focus on in order to excel at generating good employee experiences.
You can read about the first cornerstone or you can read more about the four cornerstones in the book “Mastering Employee Experience - 16 specific steps to take in your EX transformation” or download a free chapter.
Listening to your employees more frequent but not hyper-frequent
The frequency at which you should perform employee experience survey and thereby listen to your employees concerns is very situation-dependent, and there is no universal solution that fits all companies. On the other hand, all companies, regardless of industry and size, should not perform surveys more frequently than they can follow up on the results, with respect to the available time, resources and energy.
The action that follows the insights provided by the survey is very important and actually quite essential if you want to make an impact and generate change for your employees. Experiences at the contact points should be measured systematically and on an ongoing basis. For most companies, quarterly surveys work well for day-to-day experiences in the team – and occasionally more frequent as needed.
Even though technology has made it possible to perform monthly or more frequent survey of experiences in day-to-day work and of management, this is rarely the best solution. In our experience, responding to hyper-frequent surveys and subsequently following up on the insights with action requires a near impossible level of discipline.
So, instead, you need to find the right survey frequency and involve the right people and ensure that they take ownership. This is how you intelligently measure and listen to your employees, as this will allow you to get a regular indication of where you would benefit most from shifting your focus and attention without letting the frequent surveys become a factor that de-motivates the employees.
always get Insights across the employee journey
“Should we gather more insights that cover the entire employee journey through the organization?”
The answer is yes. The majority of companies need to perform broader surveys on the employee experience. We see that most companies primarily measure onboarding and exit processes, but the approach is rarely particularly structured. It is important to gain insight into the most significant contact points. If you are not already aware of what the most important contact points are in your company, you should start by defining them.
It is particularly important that you localize the critical “moments of truth”, which among other things, are associated with the top and bottom lines. The employee experience must thus be measured across the whole employee journey, right from “I hear about the organization”, “I apply for a job” and until “I am stopping and becoming an alumni”.
We also find that it is very common that insights from a measured contact point remain with HR and are far too rarely shared with the other managers or responsible individuals who could actually use them to improve aspects of their day-to-day work. If surveys are performed on the onboarding process of new employees, it is naturally critical for future improvements and management’s development that the insights from this contact point are shared with the managers and not just HR.
The important balance between insights and action
Our experience is that you cannot assume that the various recipients of insights at your company know how to convert the ongoing insights into initiatives and action. At the same time, we know that this process, where the insights are turned into action, is critical for good a employee experience and for your surveys to have the desired effect. If you decided to increase your survey frequency and listen more frequently to your employees, it is critical that you also demonstrate to the employees that action is continuously being taken on the basis of the insights. Listening to your employees make no sense if you are not mastering the balance between the insights and your follow up actions.
As the figure shows, it is important to the effect of the survey that you have the right balance between insight and action in your company. If you do not have a structure for how to ensure action in line with the more frequent insights, you risk generating an abundance of insights that do not in themselves lead to change. Without subsequent action, the employees will regard the surveys as a waste of time, and this can be a source of frustration in the organization.
The reverse situation – where the company works with employee experiences but does not have ongoing facts and insights that they can use to guide them in the best direction, hence working in the blind – is also not optimal. This will lead to a great deal of unrealized potential. However, we see that most companies are placed at the bottom of the graph and move to the right. This means that more and more insights are gathered which, unfortunately, are not supported by structures and process that can ensure action. And in this way, the survey will not have the desired effect in the company.
Gut feelings are good – but data is better when listening to your employees
More frequent and broader survey of the employees help generate or improve your existing data-driven management and give you new knowledge on the needs and views of the employees which can help define the focus that managers should have going forward. There are many managers that manage based on their gut feelings and on what they experience or have experienced in a given situation.
It is entirely natural, and there is nothing inherently wrong with this. However, the vast majority of managers also need external input consisting of involvement of the employees when they are consulted. There will always be blind angles that managers – regardless of ability and experience – are not aware of for one reason or another.
By incorporating surveys as an integrated part of the structures and processes that you use in everyday management and collaboration, they will become a useful tool for listening to and understanding your employees to an even greater degree and, of course, implementing initiatives that strengthen engagement and employee experience.