Imagine getting the results of an annual company survey saying that employees are dissatisfied ... six months after two of your best employees gave notice. Annual surveys by themselves are obsolete in today’s fast-moving organizations. The lag between when they’re taken and when an issue arises is too great, making them "nearly useless," says corporate culture consultant Alexander Kjerulf.
Business guru Verne Harnish points out that one of the key pillars of a successful organization is communication rhythm. It’s only through effective patterns of well-organized and regular communication that an organization can be properly aligned and held accountable.
Frequent surveys let you do just that. Small, simple surveys fielded on a weekly or biweekly basis give managers a way to measure data fluctuations and match trends against changes in the workplace.
This all becomes much simpler when you automate this process. After all, automation gives management the time and power to focus on what the survey results mean, not on the logistics and administrative side of creating a dialog.
The survey cadence you choose should reflect your current business environment.
Weekly or biweekly: Choose this cadence if you’ve never sent surveys before or if you know there are major weaknesses in your organization. This pattern will give you more regular trend information and quick reads on the extent to which new efforts are changing perception.
Monthly: This cadence is appropriate if surveys are already the norm and if there are no big corporate or departmental changes happening. This gives you general reads on trends to make sure things are running smoothly.
But please, never let your surveys lag more than once a month. If you do, you’ll miss the pulse of the constant changes and fluctuations in employee sentiment that have the potential to grow into larger HR problems.
And don’t forget, regular surveys mean regular sharing (see Chapter 12!). It’s one thing to put a regular survey platform in place. It’s another to regularly review survey findings with your team to keep the transparency doors open.
Four Steps to Making Regular Surveys a Reality:
Keep it short: Limit your survey to 1-3 questions. No exceptions!
Keep it simple: Keep each question straightforward and specific.
Keep it regular: Commit to a standard survey cadence — once a week, twice a month, and so on — to make constant feedback and improvement part of everyone’s regular routine.
Make it automated: We all have rushed to the urgent at the expense of the important. Avoid this by using a system to automate the sending, reminders, recognition, virtual suggestions, etc.
Story: Our client began using TINYpulse because he wanted to see how satisfied employees were at their jobs. By tracking how happy they were, thanks to the regularly-asked happiness question, our client initially thought the company was on a solid path to employee happiness.
But over time, he started seeing the following dip in their numbers:
While the benchmark stayed relatively constant, our client saw month-over-month dips in his employees’ happiness scores. Thanks to his consistency in asking and reviewing scores over time, our client was able to see that cultural issues had developed that affected overall happiness. This would definitely have been a blind spot that he would have missed without regular tracking. (In fact, blind spots are common management issues that surveys are great at uncovering. Read how TINYpulse sheds light on blind spots in this Harvard Business Review article.
Armed with this knowledge, our client was able to probe deeper with subsequent survey questions to uncover the details of the issue and start tackling them. He’s now empowering everyone to collectively improve their culture — not his culture. He shared that he sees this as an opportunity to further engage the employees to shift from a sense of entitlement to ownership.