We have talked about the when. We have discussed the implementation plan. The last critical step, however, before conducting your employee engagement survey is developing your organization’s communication plan. This is more complicated than, “Hey, we’re doing a survey. Please respond.”
Open, honest communication in an organization leads to trust – both of which are critical to improving employee engagement. We have a recommended six-step communication plan for organizations so that nothing is glossed over or forgotten. This plan must be deliberate and purposeful. A successful employee engagement survey process depends on effective communication strategies.
Prior to the survey:
After the survey:
- Senior leadership and management must meet. The top leader or HR must discuss the importance of a survey with the team, her commitment to the survey (what it means, why it matters, and who it benefits), the plan for the coming months (survey logistics), and benefits to each team member. The survey is a measure for the company to work on improving employee engagement. These discussions should happen months prior to the survey.
- All employees must be informed about the survey. This can be done in a letter or e-mail. It is key to explain why the survey is being conducted, offer an implementation timeline, explain how and when results will be shared, and most importantly, the benefits of conducting an employee engagement survey. It is important to communicate that all of the results are anonymous and only candid answers can improve the organization.
It comes down to this: communication. No survey process can be successful without a solid communication plan in place.
Acknowledge the survey has been taken immediately afterwards. Thank employees for their time, give them information about response rate, communicate when you will release the results (which should be within the following few weeks).
- Choose what to share. Everybody needs to have access to some of the results, including high-level results; otherwise the entire effort could backfire. Be honest. Do not share only the good, as by sharing the bad, you get the trolls out in the open. All employees know there are problems. Acknowledge them. If the panorama looks bleak, you still need to share while acknowledging “work needs to be done.” Use discretion! This is not a Facebook feed. It is a business, and not everybody needs to know everything. Do not single out one department or manager.
- Communicate an action plan that allows all employees to buy into: How your organization will implement change depends on its culture, size, the range of problems, and actions needed. That said, do not ask for input if you do not intend to act upon it. This is insincere. Communicate the survey results with an action plan (established and supported by senior leaders and management). Develop an on-going, predictable communication plan with employees. Communication drives accountability.
- Repeat: The survey process must be repeated to measure change and improvements. Shorter pulse surveys delivered multiple times a year are another option to catch emerging engagement problems and assess whether efforts to improve employee engagement are working.