When Should an Organization Conduct an Employee Engagement Survey?

Timing is Everything… and Nothing… when Measuring Employee Engagement

Measuring employee engagement with engagement and quarterly or monthly pulse surveys helps organizations improve productivity and employee retention. But executing a complete survey process successfully takes preparation. The organization must not only respond to the survey and communicate the survey results. There must be follow up and follow through on the actions that must be implemented to give meaning to the survey.

In the next few blogs, we are going to address organizational readiness and employee engagement strategies. We want to begin with one of the most frequent questions and concerns our clients have about surveys and timing. “When should we conduct our engagement survey?” “Does it make a difference when we survey our employees?” “Is it a bad idea to survey our employees after a big event?”

When an organization decides it is ready, it must be aware that the timing of the survey will have an effect on results. So is there really a better or worse time?

Our position is that it is always a good time to have a better understanding of how engaged your employees are; however, the choice of when to conduct the survey could cause variations in overall results.

  • Conduct the survey in October/November for year-end evaluations.
  • Conduct the survey in January to develop HR action plans for the year.
  • Avoid conducting the survey during peak business or holiday months.
  • In-between quarter end months are optimal for gathering more thoughtful, thorough responses.
  • Conduct the survey within the same one-month period every year.
Game changers in any organization will also affect survey outcomes. When the dust has settled do not shy away from doing a survey after one of your company’s biggest ground shakers. During key company changes, employees feel a higher sense of uncertainty. This is a major employee engagement killer. In these times, it is important to be vigilant, to communicate often, and to be as transparent as possible. In fact, it might be one of the best times to conduct an engagement survey.

Some big organization changes come during these times:
  • Mergers and buy outs.
  • A difficult period (recession, low productivity, recent layoffs etc.)
  • New management
After a particularly rough patch or dramatic change, leadership and management will have to work harder to re-engage employees. Conducting a survey after a big event, and doing follow up surveys every three or four months to make sure the company is getting back on track, shows an organization's commitment to their people and engagement rises. When something is going on that management does not address, it makes everybody feel uncomfortable and less engaged.

So, as we said, timing is everything … and nothing. But not doing surveys is not an option. Prepare your team for a survey by creating a readiness assessment, an implementation and communication plan. It is time to get to work, communicate, and make the changes necessary for success.

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