The annual employee survey is often the first step that companies take when it comes to listening to staff. For example, 90% of companies surveyed by Questback carry out annual or biennial surveys, making it the basis of how they measure and improve engagement.

However, many of these organisations are now looking to supplement their annual survey with more agile, flexible methods of gaining actionable insights from their employees, thereby deepening engagement and making feedback central to their organisational culture. This often includes more regular pulse or ad-hoc surveys, ‘always-on’ feedback channels, and communities for idea generation or best practice exchange for example.

For many, this means considering moving away from the traditional survey suppliers to a feedback technology platform provider that can handle all their needs. Picking the right partner is essential for success and can help increase efficiency and effectiveness as well as creating a platform for future feedback expansion. As well as their ability to support your annual survey, there are a number of additional things you need to bear in mind before you choose your partner:

1. Think long term
Select a partner who can help you achieve your long-term aspirations. Things change very quickly – a company which can cater for your current needs may well not be best placed to do so in future. Your partner needs to be able to support you at a pace that is right for your organisation. Develop a 3-5 year plan of how you see your engagement programme evolving, make sure that your chosen supplier is able to support you at each stage of the journey and can give you practical advice about turning your vision into reality.

2. Assess your  internal capabilities
Based on this 3-5 year plan, be clear on how much responsibility you can take for supporting the design and configuration of your data collection and reporting. What internal resources and skills do you have to support the design of feedback and interpretation of results now and in the future? Few organisations have the knowledge and resources immediately available to conduct all aspects of a major engagement programme using a technology platform without support. However, even fewer wish to continue spending large amounts of money on consultancy support every year. Many organisations are therefore now looking for a partner who can help them to develop their internal capabilities, enabling them to take greater responsibility for elements of the programme over time. This helps to develop self-sufficiency and significantly reduces cost year on year.

3. Factor in complexity
Be clear on the degree of customisation you will need from your platform and the complexity of reporting hierarchies if you are a larger organisation. The market is awash with apps and stand-alone solutions which may look appealing, but cannot be customised and do not support complex reporting structures. Larger enterprises must therefore look to identify a robust, scalable system, which is built to handle complexity, can be tailored to your needs and covers the full range of feedback types easily and securely.

4. Link to business metrics
There is no point in measuring engagement for engagement’s sake. The whole purpose is to manage engagement to drive business outcomes. Your programme must therefore be able to reflect your business priorities and strategic objectives. This requires not only tailored content but integration of engagement data with HR, customer and KPI metrics. Ideally, this will also include the capability to generate interactive dashboard style reporting to bring all these data sources together in one place, providing leaders with a holistic view of engagement and its consequences for the business.

5. Cover the entire employee lifecycle
The needs of members of staff (and the feedback they provide) does vary depending where they are in their employee journey – for example, a new joiner has specific insight into the onboarding process. Therefore, ensure you choose a solution that is capable of providing a view of employee experience at key touchpoints, from recruitment and onboarding through to exit and alumni. This gives you tailored feedback that can be used to improve processes, ensure staff are productive faster and ultimately boost retention.

6. Partner with experience
However powerful and sophisticated it is, technology alone is not enough to create an effective engagement strategy. Engagement is a journey, so make sure you choose a partner who has real, hands-on and practical experience of helping organisations like yours transform employee feedback. Aim to find a company that can assist you in communicating your objectives to stakeholders such as staff and senior managers, and shares best practice to ensure that your project delivers maximum value.

7. Make it easy for the end user
As your engagement programme becomes more sophisticated, the end user experience should remain frictionless, simple and intuitive. Look at making it as easy as possible for staff to give feedback through mobile-friendly solutions that provide a single point of entry for responding to surveys and providing feedback. Give managers the ability to create their own surveys, analyse results and identify follow-up actions through a single online portal. Link feedback results to action – ensure that reporting and analysis clearly identifies priority areas for attention from quantitative and qualitative data, and shares best practice so that real improvements can be made.

Your employee feedback programme is an important initiative that can deliver significant benefits to your organisation. Therefore, make sure that you choose the right partner and technology in order to maximise its impact and to build a foundation for extending the benefits of feedback across your organisation in the future.

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