How to approach the creation of a successful employee engagement survey

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4 mins, 5 secs read time

Understanding what your employees are thinking and feeling can help you make necessary adjustments to strengthen your organization. But, this process is not always as easy as it sounds – especially for companies scaling in size. With growing companies, it may no longer be tangible to go up to everyone at the office, ask questions, address issues, and find solutions.

To still make a meaningful impact and allow your employees’ voices to be heard, engagement surveys are your most scalable source for truth!

In our latest Hiring Hacks webinar, Steven Huang, Strategist at Culture Amp, and Cheryl Roubian, Director of Talent Management at Greenhouse, teamed up to discuss employee engagement surveys, including when to conduct them, what to do with the data you collect, and their overall significance in an organization.

Read on for these insights!

Why conduct employee engagement surveys?

Engaged employees are less likely to leave your company. More engaged employees result in less turnover. These two things go hand-in-hand.

Surveys provide clear transparency (and are the most democratic) way to capture how employees feel about your company. Steven recommends that companies start their survey as early as they have the resources to do so. You’ll want to make sure your employees feel comfortable with providing feedback early on, so that they get into the rhythm of doing so.

A lot of people hesitate when thinking about surveys. Steven goes on to say that when company strategies pivot or a re-organizational change is occurring, those are the times people feel more reluctant to ask what their employees are thinking. In reality, the most successful companies conduct surveys in times of transition and uncertainty. They are ready and willing to hear the things the employees are experiencing and are inclined to make change head-on.

But, how does a company move forward with implementing an employee engagement survey? Cheryl explained just that by describing how it’s done at Greenhouse.

How to design a killer survey

The Greenhouse People Team knew that the incredible hulk was coming. What do I mean by that? We were growing pretty quickly and knew that the monstrous growth was only going to continue.

In the beginning of 2015 we were at 45 employees and by the end of the year, we were at 175! With this hypergrowth came change and new adjustments. Cheryl explained that the feedback we were used to hearing couldn’t be captured in the same way because there were too many voices to account for. It wasn’t as easy to just walk up to each person and have a meaningful discussion and collect all their individual thoughts and feelings.

There was a lot of momentum and employees were feeling really good about the growth but before too many growing pain points occurred, a survey needed to be created. In November, Greenhouse implemented the first employee engagement survey and then did a second one in April. In order for it to be a successful survey, the design needed to be strong. Each question needed to have a purpose and be unique to the company. This is important because you want to ensure the feedback you receive is relevant and will create the opportunity to make change and have actionable impact.

To achieve this, Cheryl and the People Team actually embedded questions that pointed to the Greenhouse culture credo: authenticity, effectiveness, and being inclusive and open-minded. This was a good litmus test to see if the values we were holding ourselves to were actually resonating with the rest of the organization.

Each survey you conduct will be different and doesn’t always have to include your culture credo—which makes sense, because as you begin to survey more, different things will pop up and you’ll want to explore new questions that pertain to your organization at that moment or phase in your organization. But, once you get your hands on the data—what should you do?

What to do with the data you receive

Steven recommends companies rely on the quantitative data first. Then, once that’s thoroughly digested, look at the written comments so you contextually understand why the numbers are what they are.

At Greenhouse, for instance, managers will only see the data first. Comments are purposely hidden. This encourages the key stakeholders to digest what they’re seeing and talk through the numbers among the rest of the management team and then their own teams democratically.

Steve also says to treat all the results as an opportunity for conversation. Don’t go with the plan to tackle all the problems you see need fixing. For example, if the survey results came out and there was room to improve collaboration, workload, and growth opportunities, focus on just one or two of these issues and have managers communicate with their employees the results, which action items will be tackled, and how. Education and communication are key!

Interested in hearing more from Steven and Cheryl? Watch the full webinar to get deeper insight into designing questions and more.

Watch now