A recent Gallup report indicates that managers have a major effect on employee engagement — and that the rate of engagement may be at an all-time low of about 30%. You can improve these numbers in your department or throughout the company by encouraging employee feedback that pinpoints areas where you can improve your management style. But you have to tread carefully if you want to obtain accurate information.
Periodic, well-designed employee engagement surveys are a great way to obtain this feedback. Here are five tips to create surveys that encourage your employees to honestly review your performance while ensuring they feel safe when doing so.
Tip 1: Keep It Confidential
Right or wrong, when it comes to reviewing the boss or the entire company, employees have a natural fear of retaliation. If you manage only a few people, they know you can easily identify them, even in an anonymous survey, so don't expect open and honest responses. Of course, if you have established a good relationship with your employees, face-to-face conversations can help keep you aware of areas that need improvement.
Larger groups can participate anonymously in surveys if you avoid any questions about demographics or other job-specific identifiers. Many companies prefer to use third-party survey services, which employees view as being more confidential.
Tip 2: Make It Quick
Employees need to be able to complete the survey relatively quickly. They are most likely to provide thoughtful responses when answering a small number of high-level questions.
So how do you gain any meaningful feedback from just a few questions? The answer is simple: you survey employees with different questions frequently. Asking them to answer a single question every week or every other week does not pose a hardship on their time. As long as you have a good method for compiling and analyzing the responses, frequent surveys keep you current on employee attitudes and let you address issues promptly throughout the year.
Tip 3: Phrase Questions Objectively
Employees may be unwilling to respond honestly to questions that seem to point a personal finger at their managers. So instead of a true/false question like, "My manager lets me know what I have to do," rephrasing it to "I know what is expected of me" might be a better approach. This question focuses on the employee's experience, but a "no" response still clearly points to an area where management needs to improve.
Tip 4: Give It a Positive Spin
Few employees will be thrilled to suddenly receive an employee survey in their inboxes. And merely informing them that a survey is coming may add to the stress levels in the workplace. You need to get them excited at the opportunity to contribute to the company culture, so start with an advertising campaign.
One great way to put a positive spin on the surveys is to bring them up for discussion in department or company meetings. Employees are most likely to view the surveys in a favorable light when they contribute to the idea. But even if you send out email announcements or place information on the company intranet, keep the tone light and exciting. Most important, make sure employees understand that your goal is to help ensure the best possible work environment.
Tip 5: Make Sure Your Employees See Positive Results
A single action is worth a thousand words. Your employees will be most encouraged to participate when they witness changes that show you've been listening to their comments. Whether employees recognize changes that clearly address concerns from their survey responses — or if they just see general improvements in their work environment — they know the survey system is doing its job.
Tip 6: Happy Employees Are Worth the Effort
If you create a do-it-yourself survey system, plan on spending a fair amount of administration time — particularly during the early phases of trial and error. In fact, it makes sense to talk to a third-party company, such as TINYpulse, with a list of satisfied customers to decide if you prefer to go this route right from the beginning. Either way, many managers see a quick change in employee morale and productivity after instituting an effective survey system. Whether you invest your own time or use a service, the payback will be worth it.