Employee experience surveys –everything you need to know
Employee experience surveys are an invaluable tool for employers. In this post, we provide a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know about employee experience surveys.
In this post:
- What is employee experience?
- What are Employee Experience Surveys?
- The key benefits of employee experience surveys
- How to implement effective employee experience surveys
- Analyse your employee experience survey data
- Moving from insight to action – do something with your employee experience survey results
- Keep your employee experience survey results visible
- Measure the impact of your employee experience surveys on levels of employee engagement
- In conclusion
What is employee experience?
Think about your work. How do you generally feel about it day to day? Is it positive or negative, or does it depend? What are the things that impact how you feel?
In simple terms, the employee experience is how every employee feels about doing the work they do in the company they work for on a day to day basis.
Where employees feel they have a positive experience of work they will be more engaged, more motivated, more loyal and continue to contribute to the organisation.
There is also evidence to show that the employee experience has a direct impact on customer experience.
Indeed, one of our own case studies shows that employee engagement has a direct impact on patient satisfaction.
What are Employee Experience Surveys?
The start point to improving the employee experience is to measure it through a well constructed employee experience survey. An employee experience survey is an online survey which collects feedback from employees on their personal experience of working for the organisation.
Employee experience surveys typically measure the key factors that impact employee engagement. Companies then use the data gathered from these surveys to analyse and improve employee engagement.
As we have seen though, the employee experience is a continuous thing so the gold standard is to measure the employee experience at every stage of the employee lifecycle using four different types of employee experience survey.
Each of these has a slightly different purpose and objective so it is essential to first be clear on your survey objectives, but the data they gather will give you a rounded perspective on how people feel about the organisation at different stages of the employee lifecycle.
- Onboarding surveys will help you understand how new employees felt about their experience of joining the organisation. This will help you ensure that your onboarding process is as effective as possible.
- Employee Engagement surveys will help you understand how all employees feel about their experience of working in the organisation.
- Pulse surveys will do the same as engagement surveys, but they can be used more frequently.
- Exit surveys will help you understand how leavers felt about their experience of working in the organisation. They are much more effective than exit interviews and a great way to outsource your exit interview process.
The key benefits of employee experience surveys
Employee experience surveys have a number of benefits which make them cost-effective to run with the potential for a high return on investment.
- They are easy to deploy and can be distributed to all employees.
- they can be tailored to ensure they measure the things that are most important to your organisation, the survey objectives you have defined and the groups of employees they are targeted at.
- They are reliable and provide an accurate picture of employee opinion. They minimize the ability to rely on hearsay and speculation.
- They are quantifiable. The data you gather can be analysed in a systematic way to enable you build a picture of where the issues are.
- they are actionable. A well constructed survey will enable you to identify where to focus your efforts.
- They are quick. Our survey platform gives you instantaneous real-time access to your survey results.
How to implement effective employee experience surveys
Our post on how to design an effective employee survey covers the main things you need to consider. These are:
Be clear on the purpose of your survey
Employee surveys tend to have one of are four main objectives – Research, Confirm, Explore and Evaluate.
If you have never run a survey before you might want to run an employee experience survey to do a bit of Research to find out where the main employee experience issues are in your organisation.
Where you have run a survey before you may want to use your employee experience survey to Confirm the findings by repeating the previous survey.
Alternatively you might want to use your employee experience survey to Explore specific issues that have been uncovered in previous surveys in more detail.
Over time your employee experience surveys will provide evidence of where you need to make changes in your organisation. As you start to implement change you can use your employee experience survey to Evaluate the impact of those changes.
Define what themes your employee experience survey needs to measure
There is no single model of employee engagement so our view is that engagement needs to be viewed, and measured, differently depending on your organisation’s specific context, challenges and needs. We use our core model of engagement to start the conversation around what themes your surveys will measure.
As we have outlined though, the employee experience is also impacted by additional things that an employee engagement survey might not cover so we would recommend that you give some though to measuring these things too.
Define your employee experience survey questions
The questions you ask, how you ask them and how you ask people to respond to them will influence the kind of analysis you can do and the information you will gather from your survey.
In our employee surveys we recommend three types of questions that work best in practice. These are demographic questions, quantitative questions and qualitative questions.
How many questions you include in your survey will be impacted by the purpose of your survey and the number of themes you want to measure.
You will also need to give some thought to the most appropriate type of rating scale to use in your survey.
Define when to run your employee experience surveys
If you are considering running several surveys to capture all aspects of the employee lifecycle there is the danger that you could have multiple surveys all running at the same time. This is one of the things that can lead to survey fatigue where employees start to become tired of responding to constant surveys. Giving some thought around when is the right time to run your employee survey will help minimise the possibility of creating survey fatigue whilst also ensuring your surveys help support the normal business cycle.
Analyse your employee experience survey data
Running a survey is pointless unless you can make sense of the data. Effective survey analysis will convert your raw data into information that you can use to tell a story that the organisation can use to make decisions around where to act.
Look for patterns in responses and overall trends in sentiment. Don’t forget to take into account demographic data such as age, gender, and geographical location if it’s available.
Our post on the best way to analyse your employee survey data provides more detail on how to analyse your survey data.
Moving from insight to action – do something with your employee experience survey results
After drilling into the data and understanding how employees feel about their experiences, you can begin to make changes based on these insights.
You should present the survey results to your senior leadership team to ensure they have an understanding of the key messages coming from the surveys and that they then commit to implementing specific actions.
There is a temptation to define lots of actions on the basis of your survey data. We recommend that you should only focus on a maximum of three things at any one time. We know from the psychology of behaviour change that it is extremely difficult to change behaviour – it takes time and lots of focus and effort. It is the same when it comes to organisational behaviour.
Keep your employee experience survey results visible
Once you have defined the actions the organisation is going to take as a result of your employee experience surveys you should communicate these and keep them visible.
Once the senior team has been updated you should communicate the survey results to the rest of the organisation. You should do this as quickly as possible to ensure the survey results are seen as relevant and valid. We know from our clients in the NHS that the annual staff survey takes weeks for the results to be made available. It then takes weeks for the results to be digested. It then takes weeks for the results to be discussed at senior levels within each Trust. All too often the conclusion is to then wait for the results of the next survey before taking action!
Focus groups are a good way to engage with employees as these allow you to open up the data for further discussion and it can provide additional insight into why people feel they way they do.
Maintaining a constant focus on your survey actions will help create a level of accountability across the organisation. This makes working on improving employee engagement part of the ongoing business cycle rather than something that happens once per year.
One really useful communication method is to publish infographics that summarise “you said we did”. Simple posters are a good way to maintain visibility and focus.
Measure the impact of your employee experience surveys on levels of employee engagement
The ultimate payback from any employee experience survey is that it will have an impact on levels of employee engagement and business results. There are two key ways to monitor the return on investment from your employee experience surveys:
Monitor business KPIs
Useful business metrics to measure might include things such as:
- Levels of employee absence
- Levels of employee turnover or attrition
- Numbers of employee relations issues such as grievances or disciplinaries
- Productivity at the team, location or business unit level
- Customer satisfaction scores
Continuously measure employee engagement
Repeating your employee experience surveys will provide an ongoing measure of how people are feeling. If the actions you define are the right ones and are being implemented then you should see improvements in survey scores and overall levels of engagement.
For our clients we often help them make the linkage between employee survey scores and business metrics. Doing this kind of analysis will help you demonstrate how employee engagement can have an impact on business results.
The evidence shows that where people feel they have a better overall experience of their work they are more likely to deliver higher levels of performance for the company and for customers. And they are more likely to continue delivering for longer. The employee experience is made up of lots of little continuous interactions that can have a positive or negative impact on overall levels of employee engagement. Well constructed employee experience surveys will help you ensure that you are continuously delivering the best possible employee experience.