Employee surveys: What are the barriers to action planning and what to do?

Many organizations use employee surveys to assess levels of engagement, commitment, performance, or morale. Unfortunately, as research by the Kenexa High Performance Institute shows, in many instances the measurement does not translates into action. What are the typical issues and what should be done? You can read our white paper Barriers to effective survey follow-up, by Jack Wiley, or you can have a look at this brief summary (and contact me if you have any question!):
  • The most significant barriers to action planning are execution (follow-through and maintaining momentum after the survey), importance (management attention and support), resources (time, but also training, technical, financial resources).
  • These barriers all relate directly to senior management/management, mainly because – as we found – the survey programs assessed did not address the most important concerns of top executives (e.g., customer satisfaction, revenue growth, financial performance).
  • Most programs use participation rate or engagement level as the sole success metric, which might explain why it may be hard to get executive commitment and attention.
  • Overall we found that surveying is improving in sophistication and effectiveness, but more still needs to be done to maximize ROI. In particular, survey program managers should align their survey content with their business strategy, gauge the success of its action planning efforts directly and , look for strong business metrics to evaluate success.
  • Among the best practices pointed out by survey program managers, we found that (1) having the organizational processes in place for collaboration and follow-up on survey results, (2) communicating effectively about survey administration, results and action plans (3) clarity around ownership of the follow-up   and (4) senior leaders who champion the survey program. Interestingly, #2-3-4 are not about tools and information technology but about the “internal management” of the program.