Does your company conduct employee engagement surveys?  For some of you, the answer is an easy “Yes!”  But if I asked you how the survey results were used to make positive changes, you might find that question harder.

Unfortunately, this is not uncommon.

Gartner reports that 80% of employees don’t believe their company will act on survey results.  Engagement surveys give employees a voice, and we all know it is frustrating not to be heard.

World-class companies know that employees want to be a part of something important and meaningful. 

Yes, the paycheck matters, but employees want to care about their company, believe in it.  Top companies not only ask survey questions, they also listen and act in line with their values.  Laszlo Bock, former CHRO of Google, referred to their engagement survey as “the most powerful single mechanism for enabling employees to shape the company.”  So, just how did Google use their results? 

First, survey results were shared with all 50K employees within a month, letting employees know they were heard. Next, they focused on the values important to Google’s culture:  innovation, execution and retention of top talent.  Countless times I’ve met with a well-meaning leader to debrief survey results only to hear, “I’m ready to act!  What is my lowest scoring item?”  I know then that I have to educate the leader on how to effectively use survey results before we can dig into the results themselves. 

Lowest scoring doesn’t necessarily mean most important.

One well-known Fortune 500 company focused on their lowest scoring item:  satisfaction with workplace facilities.  Employees appeared to be unhappy about not having a gym when other nearby companies did.  This employer then went to great trouble and expense to convert a conference room into a terrific workout facility for their employees.  Imagine their disappointment when employee engagement remained unchanged after all of this!

Why did this happen? 

The workout facility was nice, no doubt.  But it really didn’t matter to employee engagement and it wasn’t a big part of their culture.  After reviewing the survey data, we found that what really mattered to employees was satisfaction with their work and having a pathway to advancement. 

It was not a coincidence that the company values included being passionate about what they do and only promoting the very best.  The company and I worked together, addressed some easy fixes on work satisfaction and created promotion pathways for their largest job-families.  The results were astounding – a massive improvement in engagement and an equally impressive drop in attrition. 

Does your company bring its values to life in its culture? 

Are your employees given a voice and if so, is your survey aligned with what matters to your organization?   With unemployment hovering just under 4%, anyone can find a job these days.  But talented, skilled workers want more than just a job.  They want to be a part of the bigger picture.  Having a values-based survey and analytical precision on the results can drive impactful actions and definitely give a company a competitive advantage.


Nancy Rusinak

Nancy Rusinak

Nancy Rusinak has over 20 years of experience with survey work – from design to implementation and back-end analysis. She is the owner of Linkage Analytics, LLC. Linkage Analytics offers small-to-mid-size companies an affordable approach to collecting and linking employee data to business outcomes.

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