A while back, we talked about a controversial topic - survey fatigue. Why controversial? Well, because in many cases, employee surveying doesn't go as planned. Studies show that, in fact, many companies don't manage to achieve a response rate of more than 50%.
As you may imagine, the responsibility for this outcome usually ends up passed like a ping-pong ball from one department to another. Why? Because naturally, nobody wants to take the blame. As a result, the tool becomes the scapegoat.
So what's the solution? Is the tool really to blame?
Our last related article pointed out that organizations should understand that a transparent communication strategy is the right way to approach engagement surveys. But then why do you think we feel the need to write a follow-up piece? Well, basically, we received a comment from one of our readers that got us thinking.
“I would even argue that before a manager starts sending such employee surveys, they should do something that gives them credibility that they will act on the results of the survey.
In many personal cases, I did not have a lot of respect for certain managers of mine. So even if they shared an employee satisfaction survey, I either wouldn't have answered or not truthfully because I expected no real outcome. ‘It's just internal CSR, they don't really care’...
A manager first needs to create the environment for such a survey and it's an environment in which employees believe their opinion matters to the manager.”
- A reader
With this thought in mind, we did some research which led us to an insight. We discovered that this person, who took the time to give us their feedback, is not the only one feeling this way. No. There are many that feel that their response to a employee survey wouldn't make too much difference in the grand scheme of things.
In other words, we learned that employees are reluctant to answer such surveys for various reasons linked to management. First of all, more employees than organizations like to admit, feel a lack of motivation and interest from their managers.
As shocking as this sounds, a Gallup poll shows that not even 25% of US employees feel their leaders care about their wellbeing.
Furthermore, some even fear repercussions for giving an honest answer criticizing the company. Others simply skip the survey questions because they feel it will only end up being HR statistics and expect no actual outcome. Therefore, with this general feeling, it's no wonder that the response rate is low and also irrelevant.
This being said, as upsetting as it may sound, employee survey response rates reflect the leader's mastery of communicating, leading, motivating their teams and most importantly acting on insights from the data. And that is not just us saying. These are actual facts supported by studies and research.
As usual, we want to finish our article with a piece of advice. Before you start asking questions, prepare the environment for staff surveys. More importantly, make sure that your employees feel their opinions matter.
We know that this may be easier said than done. Yet, simple actions like communicating transparently with your teams about the survey's target, showing the outcomes of previous survey results, or keeping real-time track of survey answers are something every leader can and should do.
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