Tuesday, 10 June 2014

A good staff survey?

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow!

What your staff survey could be telling you.

In the first instance our survey should be telling you is how your staff feel and how engaged they are.
We all know that to do this part, a staff survey must be meaningful and measurable with clear, relevant questions. We know that staff should be communicated with pre and post a survey, and encouraged to complete it in an engaging rather than forceful way. We also know that it MUST be acted on.

I have lead on countless staff surveys and what is sometimes missing is the why (rather than the what, when and how). Yes, we rightly give staff a voice and assure staff that we will use their feedback to make positive changes - the 'win' for them (if changes actually take place). But what is the win for the organisation given that a staff survey can be costly in terms of time and to some extent money (eg to conduct, communicate, analyse and carry out all the recommendations).

A recent staff survey I worked on focussed heavily on the here and now, with little focus on what had been happening in the organisation and on how people felt it was progressing. The focus on 'the now' was great as a snapshot, but it wasn't alone going to help the organisation plan for the future with an understanding of it's history and progress from a staff perspective.

A good staff survey, in my opinion, should allow the organisation to understand three things:

Where you've been and how far you've travelled (Reflective)
- Some of this will come from comparing historical data, but you can further assess this with questions like what went well and what could we have done better, eg around change; and how things are now compared to the past.

Where you are now (Current)
- How do people feel right now in the moment? And it really is in the moment - a heavy workload can limit open responses and a current issue can very much cloud opinion. (so obviously be careful of the timing of your survey - not always possible if external factors are at play combined with a fixed schedule!). It may with these questions, help to do a benchmarking exercise with others in your sector.

Where you might be headed (Predictive)
- Indicators may come from questions such as: what could we improve, do you see yourself in the organisation in x months time, are you confident in the organisation's plans for xyz. This is especially useful if you don't do interim and/ regular surveys or have regular means of getting feedback.

My tip therefore is to ask at least one of each type of question per section - 
How have we done, how do we do, how should we...?

Knowing all these things in time will actually save the organisation time and money in the longer term. The reflection can tell us what actually worked so we put money in the right place, the current can be used to market the organisation as an employer thus facilitating effective recruitment campaigns and perhaps support on-boarding/reduce turnover, and the predictive can help you review or put plans in place for the future.

Thanks for reading!
Denise x

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