10 musts for sharing the findings of your employee surveys

Employees want to know that their responses didn’t end up on a back-room shelf, never having been looked at. Engage them with swift action and clear messages about their input.

Work begins, not ends, with survey results.

Active circulation of survey results is a tool for driving meaningful dialogue within an organization and an opportunity to demonstrate that employees’ time spent completing questionnaires has not been wasted.

Once your employees have contributed their time and thoughts, they will want to know that they’ve been heard.

It’s important to present the results and accompanying messages in an engaging way that employees can understand and will take the time to digest.

Consider these 10 points before sharing the results of your next staff survey:

1. Timing is everything.

Strike while the iron is hot, acting while you’ve got people on board and questions are fresh in their minds. The longer the gap between collating the data and delivering the results, the greater the perception of underhanded activity, such as spin doctoring.

This could leave employees believing that managers don’t listen or aren’t taking their feedback seriously. The sooner you release results, the sooner you can quell rumors and maintain control of your message.

2. ‘Vision trumps all other senses.’

That’s rule No. 10 of John Medina’s Brain Rules. All 12 rules are based on fact—what scientists know for sure about how our brains work. “We are incredible at remembering pictures. Hear a piece of information, and three days later you’ll remember 10 percent of it. Add a picture and you’ll remember 65 percent.”

Employees can get swamped struggling to interpret data and separating the essential stuff from the less important. People must have information delivered in an appealing and memorable way that makes it easy to understand. If you need inspiration for your visuals, explore how other sectors and industries are presenting survey results.

Brain Rule No. 4: ‘We don’t pay attention to boring things!’

We work with The Wow Company, transforming the results of their annual surveys and making them vibrant and easy to interpret. The Benchpress Report is conducted among creative agencies to share key trends, stats and averages about business growth. It’s a great example of how facts and figures can be presented in an engaging way.

3. Less is more.

Considering the previous point, information overload presents a constant quandary for many organizations. Keep the process of sharing results streamlined, focus on the key issues and be strict with the level of content you publish and share. You can always make a full version available, making the finer details available on the intranet or in a separate publication.

4. Avoid jargon and complex terms.

Keep the language simple; terminology used in different geographical locations or certain areas of the business may not be universally understood. Employees may feel uncomfortable about admitting they don’t understand technical terms and could miss key messages as a result.

Download this free white paper, “Auditing your Internal Communications,” for a step-by-step guide to assess which communications channels work best for your organization.

5. Tailor reporting for your varied audiences.

Senior management will need a summary and access to detailed results for the whole organization as well as differences among divisions or departments. Department heads will need to know how their division compares against the organization as a whole, as well as how departments in their division compare to each other. Employees will want the facts presented simply and without bias. The key here is complete transparency at all levels—everyone is an employee, after all.

6. Support managers to communicate the results.

Many organizations will issue a high-level results report and then look to local manager to cascade the information in more detail. This is a great opportunity to support managers and to ensure that the report process is handled correctly. Consider issuing managers with basic packs, toolkits or guidance notes, highlighting the central messages agreed upon by senior leaders.

7. Determine your distribution methods.

Consider the different channels that will be used to share your data. It may be suitable to ask employees how they’d like to receive the results as part of the initial survey.

Usually the most powerful approach is to have leaders directly communicate the results via a town hall style meeting or video conference, often supported by a digital or printed version of the report.

If employees work in numerous or remote locations or on different shifts, a series of meetings or roadshows could be held to include everyone. If this option is not feasible, a good alternative is to have top leaders share the results with managers who in turn share them with their supervisors and employees.

8. Put the numbers into perspective-the good, the bad and the ugly.

Include an executive overview that summarizes and simplifies the complex information, clearly detailing the headlines and key messages. Make sure this comes from the CEO or similar leader to demonstrate support and buy-in at the highest level of the organization.

Include the more challenging results as well as the positive outcomes-present all the facts, warts and all. There will be some things that just can’t be changed, but you can build trust among employees by explaining why.

9. Celebrate good news.

Call out the positive results and improvements achieved throughout the year. Acknowledging accomplishments can have a big impact on morale and, ultimately, engagement.

10. Be proactive in seeking support.

Once the results have been shared, request input for action steps in areas requiring improvement, or outline steps or processes that will address shortcomings. Encourage employees to come up with ideas so they contribute to the outcome. Determine what success or improvement will look like in specific and measurable terms.

What successful methods have you used to share your employee survey results?

A version of this article originally appeared on Alive With Ideas.


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