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Overcoming the 3 most common challenges to employee surveys

Employee experience surveys are relatively easy to deploy but very hard to get meaningful insights from. And getting timely insight is more important than ever in the current world of work.

Even in a good year it’s estimated that lost employee productivity and turnover from disengagement costs business up to $190 billion a year in healthcare costs. Factor in the burnout that 75% of workers reported feeling lately, and it’s likely you’re seeing increased sick time, loss of productivity, not to mention escalating recruitment costs. It’s become more crucial than ever to monitor employee sentiment and to get a handle on discontent before employees jump ship, especially as the war for talent rages on. Yet many businesses struggle to get an accurate measure of employee engagement and satisfaction.

Employee surveys have long been the traditional tool to periodically do a pulse check. Surveys, done right, can be a quick, accurate and enlightening communication method. Unfortunately, they can also be problematic, and done wrong, they can even contribute to dissatisfaction. 

Here are 3 of the most common challenges of surveys and how to overcome them: 

1.  Employee surveys often ask the wrong questions

Many employee surveys ask very general questions in order to appeal to a large group of people. The surveys also lean mostly towards making it easy for employees to respond on a numerical scale. These types of questions often aren’t specific enough to get actionable insights.

How to overcome this challenge? Asking open-ended questions will yield you more useful information. They allow you to“hear” nuances in expression and depth of emotion. Open-ended questions also allow employees to get really detailed about what’s going on in their departments or teams. Often, survey facilitators avoid open text responses because they can be tricky to interpret and “roll up” into statistically accurate insights. Until now. Using artificial intelligence and natural language processing (NLP), you can analyze open-text responses without sacrificing accuracy.

2.  Survey results are only as good as the information employees feel comfortable sharing.

Another common issue with surveys is the lack of trust between employee and employer. Many employees hesitate to answer questions honestly, especially if they are reporting serious issues or even just negative feedback. It’s the digital age, and employees are very conscious of how easy it is to track their information. Gaining employee trust is a precursor to getting useful information out of a survey.

 How to overcome this challenge? Consider offering employees confidentiality through a third-party survey. Doing so offers full transparency on how the information in their surveys will be collected, interpreted, presented, and used. They even help clients convey this information to employees to help establish trust.

3.  Deep down, many employees feel ignored.

Often what companies perceive as “survey fatigue”, is “lack of action fatigue”. According to talent management research from Aon, a third of employees report feeling that surveys are useless, and fully 80 percent don’t believe management will respond to data they uncover in a survey. And no wonder – when it takes months to evaluate data by the time senior executives pull together a response it can feel like too little too late. But accurate and timely information can help solve this problem.

How to overcome this challenge? Communicate results and action plans as quickly as possible. We know it is easier said than done. This is where using the right technology platform matters. Most survey products, help with the data collection but leave the organizations (and most often the HR Teams) to figure out the actionable insights from the data. This can be very time-consuming especially when numerical scores and open-ended feedback from employees is involved. Leverage technology that truly enables analytics and gives you insights readily. Select employee experience solutions that handle the number-crunching and analytics, so you can focus on making decisions and taking action.

Remember, even small changes can really motivate your staff. Happy employees are 20% more productive and can increase business sales by 37%.

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