Avoid Mayhem: Don’t Let Your Employee Engagement Survey Turn Out Like Your Last DIY Home Improvement Project

5 Criteria You Must Meet Before Running Your Own Employee Engagement Survey.

Most leaders understand that employee engagement surveys are an important tool in helping to attract, retain, and motivate an organization’s workforce. For those that are new to the process, the threshold question is whether to go it alone and use a software platform to conduct the survey or might a managed-service scenario be a better alternative. There are pros and cons to both options.

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Like many, I enjoyed watching the recently completed NCAA Football playoffs – but not just the games – the ads as well. One ad in particular, All State DIY Mayhem struck me as a perfect metaphor for a question we often get asked about employee engagement surveys. In this commercial the Allstate Mayhem character attempts a Do-it-yourself project at home by cutting down a large tree in the yard. The tree falls the opposite way and crushes the covered patio of a house.

Can we just buy a good software package and do the work ourselves, or should we bring in an expert to run it on our behalf? When attempting a do-it-yourself project at home, those that have the proper skills, tools, and a network of knowledgeable advisers, will often find the project to be cheaper, yield quality results, and be more satisfying in the end. The materials and tools can easily be purchased from a local hardware store, but the magic comes in having the proper know-how and skills to effectively use those tools. Often, those only come from years of practice and expert training.

DIY Home Improvement Fail
For many, the prospect of wielding a circular saw and a hammer conjures images of previous lopsided failures. For those individuals, hiring a professional for the project is clearly the best option. With employee engagement surveys, survey software platforms work well for those with in-house experience and expertise, but are often a poor choice for those that either do not have the time to properly manage the project or who lack the experience, tools, and support to do it themselves.

Are You Capable Enough to Run Your Own Employee Engagement Survey?

Here are five things to consider when making the decision on whether to buy software and go it alone or bring in a partner to run your employee engagement survey.

  1. What is our Budget? This one can be deceptive. Often people will only factor in the out-of-pocket costs for software and outside consulting. But even when you plan to use internal resources, there is an opportunity cost involved. Soup to nuts, a well executed employee engagement project will take four to six dedicated weeks of someone’s time.
  2. Do we have in-house expertise to scientifically structure a survey particularly around employee engagement? How many questions should you ask? How long can the survey take to complete? Does the order of the questions matter? Which questions measure engagement? Satisfaction? Should there be corrective actions we can take for every question we ask? Are there questions we should not ask? (Be careful not to ask a question you are not ready to respond to or take action on.)
  3. Do we know how to get solid participation from our employee base? Often we think, “If we build it, they will come.” Employee engagement surveys need to be promoted to insure you reach a statistically reliable set of responses. Do you have the personnel in place to promote the survey so people will take it? Do your employees trust that their responses will be kept confidential so that they will answer honestly? Using a third party to manage the employee engagement survey process helps create the trust knowing that managers and executives will not have direct access to the raw data.
  4. Do we have in-house skills to do statistical analysis and reporting? You probably have someone with the background to create the reports you will need. Do you have someone available to do statistical analysis of responses? It is an easy thing to find which questions are answered most favorably and which are answered most negatively. The true nuggets are in which questions predict engagement most accurately. Often this can be less than 10 percent of the total questions asked.
  5. What will we do with the data once we have it? This may be the most important consideration of all. At DecisionWise we often tell our prospects, “If you are not planning on making changes based on the data collected, you are better off not running a survey at all.” Employees are very aware of what they tell their organization. If you do nothing with the data, trust erodes. Do you have people in place who can interpret the results and make appropriate recommendations? Is there organizational commitment to take action around whatever the data says no matter what that might be? Do you have an infrastructure to hold people accountable for committed changes?

In the end, survey software platforms have their place in accurate data collection and reporting, but that’s just the beginning. At DecisionWise we know that improvements to employee engagement come from people working with people––trained and experienced experts that understand survey results, and the action needed to make positive change in an organization.
Employee Engagement Survey

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