Amplifying the Employee Voice When There’s Survey Fatigue
— February 28th, 2022
We all know, personally and professionally, how important it is for employee opinions and ideas to be aired within your organization.
In a recent webinar, The Great Resignation - Time to Rip Up the Comms Playbook, I talked about a worrying and growing disconnect between leaders and employees and the biggest attitudinal shifts towards work we’ve seen in decades.
One of the solutions to resolving the problems these divides are causing is unsurprisingly centered around gaining a deep understanding of employees' needs and feelings related to work.
But when there’s a perception that survey fatigue is switching employees off from sharing their views, and management isn't supporting the use of surveys, how can you gather valuable employee insights?
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Before delving into alternate ways to listen and engage with your people, let’s first unpack the survey fatigue issue.
I would argue that survey fatigue doesn’t exist. Rather more, employees are tired of and choose not to engage in pointless surveys.
I believe employees are tired of being asked to contribute their views or ideas, giving up their precious time and insights, when they don’t understand what’s in it for them.
If they’ve never understood what happens to their data, if they can’t see the link between their responses and the actions taken by the business, then they’re really not going to see the value in filling in a survey and, more importantly, not feel valued themselves.
If there’s a compelling and well considered case for gathering employee input and they understand why they’re being asked to contribute, they can recognize there’s a clear benefit in it for them by contributing.
If they trust that their honest opinion will count and change will happen, employees will happily and readily give you feedback. If there’s reluctance for employees to fill in surveys, or share their views, it’s unlikely that it’s the survey that’s the problem! It’s more about resetting your approach to surveys and/or shifting the culture to one of being truly open, honest, and trust-filled.
Every survey, no matter what format, needs to ensure:
- It has a clear purpose linked to clearly defined business outcomes
- The format, question type, number, and sample size are all considered with both the outcomes and target employees in mind
- The ‘why’ and the ‘benefits’ for employees to contribute are made explicit to them.
- A culture of shared openness, trust and responsibility is built where leaders take and employees give feedback constructively
- There’s a process to manage the feedback and ideas gathered and make decisions from
- Communications ‘join the dots’ so all parties can understand and see the value in the employee voice, that the business and culture is shaped to become even better because of employee input
- Employees understand why change doesn’t happen if that’s the case, so they understand the business decision-making process
I believe surveys should be used throughout an organization and treated as the valuable and insightful tool they are, to enable leaders and employees to co-create places of work that work for and value everyone in them.
Surveys, of course, come in many forms and there’s a real opportunity to make the process creative, innovative, and fun too.
100-question, all-employee, annual surveys don’t fall into this camp, if you still use them, but they can have their value if the above criteria are considered.
Here’s what else you can do to amplify the wisdom and views of your employees:
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Pulse surveys — short and focused surveys repeated on a more frequent basis, often targeting a smaller sample size to ‘pulse’ what’s going on in the business and capture in real-time how employees are feeling.
To make things even easier, questions can be embedded into emails or even sent directly via your employee app or mobile device to meet employees where they’re at.
Utilize your channel analytics so you’re monitoring employee behavior and preferences without even asking them.
Enable employees to share in real-time their ideas and solutions, creating an open, inclusive, and co-creative culture. You could host Yam-jams, utilize idea management software, or simply host brainstorming sessions to tackle challenges or changes within the business.
Host or facilitate debrief sessions to share and capture lessons learned. Employees who have just been onboarded finished a project together, or been part of an organizational change will have fresh insights on their experience that will be valuable to help improve processes going forward.
Integrate employee involvement tools into live meetings, town halls, or CEO Chats. Most video meeting software has polls, chat functionality, and breakout rooms as standard, but you could also use other apps to ask questions, get people to vote, run quizzes and make the whole experience more dynamic, participative, and fun while gathering their input at the same time.
Maximize team meetings. Team meetings are often considered the safest space to speak up and air feelings, so create an equally safe space for Managers to feedback on behalf of their teams. You can gather insights or data on anything from wellbeing levels, solutions to business problems or challenges, feedback on key topics, or innovative ideas.
Whether survey fatigue is real or not, the opportunity remains - our employees have insights, feelings, and ideas that smart, sustainable, employee-centric organizations are not foolish enough to ignore.
We just have to be well-considered and creative in our data-gathering approaches in order to open the doors.