To survey or not to survey?



Last week I took part in the Generation Digital ‘Connected Companies’ webinar to discuss communication in a crisis. One of the attendees asked a question around whether they should continue with their annual employee engagement survey with the current situation. I couldn’t answer straight away. I had a gut feeling but I wanted to chat to Benjamin Ellis, our data partner, to find out his view.

We chatted this morning and these were his key points:

  • The choice is between measuring and not measuring, and right now measurement and feedback is very important.
  • While the overall numbers will be impacted by the overall situation, what you should be looking at in the data is relative scores (what areas have been impacted) and giving yourself a baseline for measurement post-crisis.
  • It is critically important to understand, in a direct, unfiltered way, what your people are experiencing right now. It is also important to balance the ‘direction’ of comms as there has likely been a large amount of outbound and little ‘inbound’/
  • IF you have switched working styles, this is a chance to check in on overall employee wellbeing and identify any interventions that might be required. Wellbeing should be a standard part of an EE survey these days anyway.
  • If you’re not already, you need to go digital (this isn’t the time for sending paper around).
    One of the main things to consider is the speed of the action around the results. We work with Benjamin because his platform (SocialOptic) allows for quick data turnaround with insight and that’s what you need to do right now. This isn’t the time for the survey to be out for months and then weeks or months of analysis and action plans created.

In terms of messaging – this will be specific for the organisation but consider:

  • Why you’re doing it and why it’s important to you – be clear about this upfront
  • Acknowledge that this is a difficult time for many but it’s also why we need to know more about the wellbeing of our teams
  • This will be different to previous years as the results and actions will be out quicker and we are prioritising actions to support employees
  • Expect a short, mid and long term plan – and also some things that cannot be changed
  • Your voice is important – and physical distance is no reason for it not to be heard

You might feedback results in a variety of ways – ordinarily this might be on the intranet or manager briefings. Why not consider a pre-recorded video update or a live video call to discuss the results with senior leaders? You could gather smaller groups across the organisation to allow for conversation and get all the senior leaders involved.

So, if this is the time for your annual employee engagement survey – continue to run it, create a baseline for the circumstances and be in a position to take quick action on the back of it. Make your messaging clear about why you’re doing it, what you will do with it and when and manage expectations.

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