5 Essential Strategies for Effective Employee Culture Surveys

8556682467_f650f29803Studies over the years have shown that trust is the most important factor in a successful workplace. But how can you be sure that such a vital key to success is a part of your employees’ workplace experience? That’s where employee culture surveys come in. These surveys are designed specifically for the purpose of analyzing the teamwork, work ethic, attitude and work culture of your company.  

When successful, these surveys can give employers a lot of insight on what’s going on across your organization - whether it’s between employees and supervisors, employees and their peers, or employees and customers. Here are five essential strategies for effective employee culture surveys:

1. Define Your Objectives

It’s important for you to have clear motives behind your survey. Don’t just initiate a survey out of the blue. Having reasons behind the survey will make it much easier for you to construct a meaningful and relevant survey experience.  If you have no reasons behind the employee survey or goals for the research, you won’t be able to well coordinate the administration of the questions.

For example, if you want to evaluate the teamwork between your marketing team and your sales team, you need to formulate your survey and its administration specifically to meet the needs of the two groups.

2. Perform the Survey As Part of a Larger Initiative

In order to attain better results from the survey, you should perform it as part of a larger initiative. By doing this, you give those that answer a sense of responsibility as their answers will be used in ways that will have a real impact on the company. As a result, they will be more inclined to take the survey seriously and give truthful answers.

Performing the survey as part of something bigger will also make it easier to plan the survey and how you’ll use the results afterwards. For example, if you perform the survey as part of the introduction of a new marketing strategy that improves how the sales team runs,  you will have a defined objective - getting feedback from the marketing and sales’ teams about how they work together, etc - and an idea of what you’ll do with the results - make minor adjustments to the new strategy, etc.

3. Carefully Plan Your Survey: Who You Ask & What You Ask

If your survey is specifically targeting a certain group of employees, you’re probably going to ask different questions than you would for a company-wide survey. Therefore, it’s important for you to plan the survey specifically to appeal to who’ll be taking it.

Examples of factors that impact the kind of questions asked and how they’re formulated include age differences, seniority (new employees vs. senior ones), job roles (front lines vs. back office), etc. For example, recently recruited employees may provide fresh, new, ideas that longstanding ones might miss -- but you have to ask the right questions to gain those insights.

4. Be Prepared To Make Change

The biggest issue with most employee surveys is the lack of change that follows the process. Employees tend to feel that the survey isn’t going to bring about change, so they tend to take it less seriously. Performing a survey and doing nothing with the results is worse than not having a survey at all. People will either ignore it because they know it won’t be looked at, or they’ll get their hopes up, work hard on answering the survey to bring about much-needed change, and be let down by the lack of it. Either way, the best thing you can do is prepare yourself, your employees, and your business for changes ahead.

5. Tie the Process to Business Goals

Coordinating, administering, and taking a survey can be very long and boring tasks, but if you think about how the survey aligns with your future business goals, it can make it a much more rewarding process.

Let’s revisit our previous example. In that scenario, your business is looking to introduce a new marketing strategy. However, that strategy also affects how your sales team runs. The goal of your survey is to gain some insight on how well the two teams function together, independently, etc and how that will be affected by the introduction of this new marketing strategy.

As you can see, the survey is not only evaluating the work ethic of the employees, but how that work ethic will be affected by and will affect the new strategy.

This strategy is tied to a business goal, correct? If you’re implementing this new strategy to gain more leads, your goal is to do just that. Therefore, it’s important for your employees to know that this survey doesn’t simply evaluate their performance, but greatly affects how quickly and effectively your business reaches its goals.

However you formulate your survey, be sure to use the results to make changes within your business and improve your workplace.

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Image credit: musescore (Flickr @ Creative Commons)

Topics: strategy, Focus Area: Leadership, training and development, communication, survey, employee culture, engagement

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