Ah yes, that time of the year is upon us; the annual employee survey. Just in case you are unfamiliar (highly unlikely if you’re on HRZone, but still), the annual employee survey is the practice utilized by most companies to receive feedback from every level in the company. From the entry level administration to the managers to the vice presidents, this is a great opportunity to collectively ask them all a series of questions, and hopefully use their responses to improve the company as well as employee happiness and retention.

But I have to say, the utilization of this data often times falls awfully flat. This is such a wonderful opportunity to hear from everyone that it should never be taken lightly. Trust me, I have seen my countless share of terrible surveys; from ones that ask nothing more than a few short and generic questions to ones that almost come across as propaganda in some attempt to sway responses to the positive.

So on that note, here is my four point guide to ensure you maximize the utility from this valuable opportunity:

Treat it like Market Research

Pretend for a moment that every employee in your company is a customer (and in a way, they are or very well should be). Think about how you would go about taking a survey of your customers. You might consider organizing a consumer panel or market research panel, as these provide valuable insight into the mind of your consumers. And think about how much you value any feedback, especially if it’s negative, as that is certainly the largest encourager of change.

So then why would you want to present the survey as a piece of corporate propaganda with language encouraging only positive responses? Certainly if someone that works under your company’s name, you want to know any negative feelings they may have. From top to bottom, everyone has a valuable opinion, and these surveys should be used to bring out every opinion.

Keep it 100% Anonymous

There should NEVER be repercussions from being honest on a company survey. If one of your employees harbors any negative feelings, this should be a great opportunity for them to be able to unload their thoughts without fear of any retribution.

The survey does not do any good if your employees can’t answer honestly, so it is important to make them feel comfortable about being able open up.

Publish the Results

I guarantee people are going to be curious about the results of this survey. While keeping the specific responses secret, reveal the statistical results. Perhaps even encourage the managers to write a response to their relative department’s feedback, perhaps with a list of actionables they compile to ensure improvement on areas that their team felt needed improvement.

Act on it!

People will certainly feel motivated if they see results because of their actions. If the general employee consensus is the need for more focus on specific areas, inefficiencies or a feeling of a lack of support, prove to them that you are actually listening by putting programs and policies in place to actually improve in these areas. I can promise that if your employees know you are listening, the next time the company survey comes around, you will get even more great ideas and notes about areas that need improvement that you might just be overlooking.

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