5 Benefits of Engagement Surveys for Boosting Company Growth
At some point in our careers, most of us have experienced our HR team sending out an annual employee survey.
And at that point having one of three reactions:
- “What a waste of time, nothing ever changes around here”
- “They will know it’s me so I can’t be honest”
- “They only ever talk about the good results”
I’ve been in HR for over 15 years and I have to admit I have sent out my fair share of surveys where nothing changed as a result, leaders went on a witch hunt when they got negative feedback, and the results were curated before they were shared (if they were shared at all).
I am very happy to say though, that for me, those experiences were a long time ago.
The impact of gathering meaningful, honest feedback from staff has been recognized more and more over the years by leaders at all levels. This evolution of mindset has led to more collaborative cultures where honest and especially critical feedback is highly valued.
The Importance of Employee Engagement Surveys
Engagement surveys are one of the most effective ways a company can check in to see how their employees are feeling. Done well, these surveys can result in meaningful insights that can drive impactful change.
At Paystone, we send out an employee engagement survey every quarter to keep a pulse on how our teams are feeling and get ahead of any trends that may be emerging.
We believe that a successful employee survey needs to be based on five key points to be truly valuable to both staff and senior leadership. The survey needs to:
- Give our teams a voice to share open and honest feedback
- Build trust with employees through transparency
- Benchmark our data against relevant external data
- Identify areas of strength & opportunity
- Hold leadership accountable to drive meaningful change
If we really want staff to take the time to give us honest and open feedback, we have to provide a safe space for that to happen.
Oftentimes team members are happy to attach their name to feedback, but for more sensitive or critical feedback we need to ensure staff feel comfortable to express it and won’t face, or believe they will face, repercussions for being honest. Ensuring anonymity of all feedback is critical along with an open mind to receive it.
We use a sophisticated tool called Culture Amp that aggregates feedback from several smaller teams that alone do not meet a minimum response threshold. This ensures all individuals are able to respond openly and eliminates the temptation and ability to identify who said what.
Our People Experience and Senior Leadership teams value critical and negative feedback just as much as the positive feedback. We know things aren’t always perfect and we are grateful when staff openly share how we can improve. This openness to all feedback helps us continue building an inclusive culture where all of our staff have the opportunity to grow and contribute.
Communicating Survey Results
Once staff have taken the time to share how they are feeling, then it’s time to share the results.
Sharing these findings in an open and transparent way helps staff to feel both valued and heard. This in turn begins to build trust that the company is listening, working to understand, and responding to the feedback.
We share our survey results quarterly in a town hall setting. We don’t curate the feedback before it is shared, we show the results as they are and how they compare to the previous quarter, and occasionally year over year. We never share individual comments at these meetings (to protect anonymity) and we are open about strengths, opportunities, and what the focus will be from a company perspective. In addition, department specific results are shared with senior leaders and staff in each area, offering even more transparency to employees.
Data-Informed and Benchmarked Focus Areas
While it’s important to compare our results to previous quarters or year over year, it’s also critically important to use meaningful external data to validate how we stack up against our peer organizations.
Most employee engagement platforms have the ability to show your results in comparison to benchmark data. That comparison could be geographic, demographic, industry, or other relevant factors.
At Paystone, we choose to compare ourselves to organizations in the same industry. This offers us a clearer way to evaluate our results with those who we are competing with for talent (either directly or indirectly). We are always striving to be a leader in our industry and by comparing ourselves to other tech companies we can do an “apples to apples” analysis.
So, the data is collected, it’s been compared to both previous surveys, and we know how we stack up against our peers.
Now it’s time to celebrate the areas where we are doing well and focus our energy on the areas of greatest impact.
At the corporate level, we choose up to three areas to focus on for the next quarter. These areas are driven by a mix of survey feedback and company priorities. We identify and commit to these growth areas during a town hall meeting.
Senior leadership often shares an action plan on how we will tackle the growth areas with the commitment to report back on progress at following town halls. We encourage each department to take a similar approach for their specific areas, creating transparency and accountability that keeps our priorities top of mind.
A Culture of Candor and Feedback
The last point that is crucial to creating meaningful employee engagement through surveys is to have buy-in at all levels of leadership. As mentioned above, the culture around feedback has evolved to a point where feedback is considered to be an essential piece of any company's growth plan.
A healthy, happy, and engaged team is invaluable and our senior leadership team at Paystone understands this. Their commitment to improving the experience for staff comes through every time we discuss survey results. They are driven to deliver on our People First approach and that means being open to change. While we all have a responsibility to contribute to the company culture, leaders have an even greater power to influence it.
I’m always so impressed with how open and honest our employees are when they take the time to respond to a survey and am grateful for all the feedback offered (both positive and negative).
As an HR professional, I know how important it is to use this feedback to create a better employee experience at every level. Done well, an employee engagement survey can be a powerful tool to impact your culture. Unfortunately, done poorly, that same survey can have an equal but negative impact on the culture you are trying to build.