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Post-Survey Follow Up Actions: What to do After Your Employee Survey Runs

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You’ve done the hard work of building an employee engagement survey. You’ve put together incisive questions, you’ve involved employees in the process, and now you’re getting tons of high-quality feedback. There’s just one question left:

Now what?

Woman working at her desk thinking what to do next

It’s one thing to know why employees are disengaged. It’s another thing to know what to do about it. 

Though employee engagement surveys are a critical step in this process, everything hinges on what comes next. Without a new engagement initiative, your survey results are just piles of bits and data on a computer. WIth the right next steps, your survey results can be game-changing. So let’s parse out the complex journey of turning your survey results into actionable steps you can take to improve your business:

Step One: Collect and Organize Your Survey Data

It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.” —Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The first step? Get out the digital lasso: it’s time to corral your data. 

Before taking any other step, you’ll have to compile your survey responses. Is the data accurately recorded? Anonymized? Can you view it in ways that generate key insights?

If it sounds overwhelming, don’t fret. Selecting a high-quality platform to manage your employee survey data will help. 

Let’s say you’re using Peoplelytics. You’ve sent out your engagement surveys and have received every employee’s response. What happens next? To parse your data, you can use a few features:

  • Viewing data by department: Want to compare how sales responds vs. the people in accounting? You can sort by department to get a quick eNPS score. Peoplelytics will also organize responses into three key categories: promoters, neutrals, and distractors. This will show you which department has the highest rates of disengaged employees.
  • Exporting data to CSV. You can process your own data if you wish. Simply export everything from Peoplelytics into a CSV. There you can organize answers, further anonymize the data, or even use AI to find patterns.
  • Refer to your KPI. Your KPI (key performance indicators) are the statistics you watch closely to track your success. Within Peoplelytics, for example, you can track eNPS over time. If this is your first survey, mark your KPI for future measurements. These will be your mile-markers in driving employee engagement success.

Don’t be intimidated if this all sounds complicated. A platform like Peoplelytics will automatically calculate key statistics to provide you with an easy-to-reference dashboard. Much of the information is color-coded for your convenience.

For example, Peoplelytics will display the average score/job satisfaction on a dashboard. This is like a shortcut between your survey responses and the insights you can glean. You’ll be able to identify core tendencies so you can begin brainstorming new engagement initiatives immediately.

Step Two: Analyze Your Data

With your survey responses compiled into a platform like Peoplelytics, your next step is to analyze that data. This is a key step because it’s when your responses start transforming into tangible insights.

African American man analyzing data on his computer

Look for patterns in the responses

One bad response won’t make or break your company. If Jane or John Doe believes that your leadership style is terrible, but the remaining 99% of your employees rave about your leadership style, the criticism isn’t a pattern. It’s an outlier. If that’s what your data looks like, you should probably look at other problems to address first.

The problem is that not every pattern in the data will look so cut and dry. It’s rare for 99% of your employees to agree on anything. You’ll need a few additional steps to cut through the data and find your patterns:

  • Sort the data. In Peoplelytics, you can view data by department, employee location, and soon, gender, role, and manager status. You can export data to CSV, or browse the data for individual questions. Whatever your choice of sorting through the data, here’s our recommendation: try to find the most overwhelmingly similar responses. Do 90% of employees rate your leadership style a 1 out of 10? Then that’s clearly a key area in need of improvement.
  • Run the data by a second set of eyes. One reason exporting to CSV is so powerful is that you can use external tools. Have AI glance through the results and come up with patterns—then double-check those patterns yourself and see if you notice the same.

Create summarized reports from the data

It can be very helpful to create a summary of the main findings for both sharing internally, remembering on your own, and for generating buy-in on future plans you setup. Think about key themes or areas where there’s plenty of feedback (both positive and negative).

It can be good to put this information into a PowerPoint, a PDF, or even in a Google Doc.

Include both quantitative and qualitative data as both will help paint a clear picture as you go forward and examples can help illuminate points you are making and requests you may have for budget or support as you go forward.

Step Three: Set goals and objectives for future surveys

You’ll likely notice a pattern or two when running the steps above. For example, maybe you noticed that satisfaction is high except for low responses to a question like, On a scale of 1-10, I feel valued as a member of this company.

The best way to move forward is to address the most pressing engagement needs, so focus on those. Use the SMART goal framework to set goals and objectives for future surveys.

Senior HR leader creating plans on her computer

In SMART, the goals should be:

  • Specific: i.e., do you want to improve the average score from 2 to 4 in a quarter?
  • Measurable: i.e., are you choosing a KPI like average survey response?
  • Actionable: i.e., can you identify specific steps you can take to improve this response?
  • Relevant: i.e., are you choosing the most pressing need, or simply pursuing vanity metrics that might look good to leadership?
  • Time-bound: i.e., do you know when you want to achieve these goals?

If you choose a relevant goal and say, “we’d like to boost our score for this answer by 50% in the next quarter,” you have a goal that meets all five variables.

What if you don’t notice any particularly bad engagement responses? You can still improve. You have another choice here: internal benchmarks vs. external benchmarks. You can also weigh industry-wide statistics if you don’t want to set goals based on internal metrics. If 70% employee engagement is a good benchmark in your industry and your results suggest you’re at 65%, setting overall engagement responses as your goal can be a great way to pursue excellence. 

Step Four: Develop Action Plans

Your action plan is when the data stops being data and becomes the backstory for your next initiative. In the previous section, you’ve set a SMART goal. Now you have to ask yourself: what’s the best way to achieve it?

Mock illustration of planning

Plan the next surveys you may need so you can identify and stay on top of trends

Employee engagement is just a single snapshot of how employees feel now. It’s inherently limited to the present moment. That’s why features like regularly updating employee sentiment with quick “pulse surveys” can be so powerful. You can automate your check-ins with employee engagement and run specific pulse surveys on individual topics, or cover a few things in one survey on a monthly or quarterly basis.

True: when you run your first survey, you won’t have access to this data. So remember that while this data is important, it’s also a benchmark. It’s the mile-marker by which you’ll measure future results. You can use it to see the road ahead, but future surveys will tell you if you have to address clear, emerging trends.

Our recommendation? When you perform the steps above, make note of the areas you’d like to see the most improvement. Jot down your goals for the next survey—which might go out a quarter from now—and use your best-guess estimation for the steps to take.

Match the initiative to the need

Your first step is to take the area you want to improve and create an initiative that creates its positive opposite.

For example, let’s say that employees feel disengaged because they don’t feel your company is dedicated to solid environmental or sustainability practices. If you were to start an initiative like Patagonia’s “1% for the Planet” program, you’d likely expect those numbers to improve by the next round of surveys. In that program, Patagonia awards cash and donations to environmental groups involved in local communities. Patagonia also publicizes this outreach so employees and customers alike are aware.

Hard for environmentally-conscious employees to stay disengaged when they know what their company is doing to help the planet.

Or maybe your corporate values are to offer exceptional customer service. Yet your employee engagement surveys showed you that your employees don’t feel particularly incentivized to provide this. In that case, your employee engagement initiative might be more like Hilton’s, which allows employees and customers to submit “Catch me at my best” reports to highlight exceptional customer service. If employees feel like someone’s noticing their efforts, they’re more likely to give you their best.

Draft a communications plan

It’s one thing to have a plan. But if that plan occurs in a vacuum—if no employees are even aware it exists—then it’s probably not going to move your engagement needle.

That’s why no engagement plan is complete without a plan for how you’ll communicate it. Will you…

  • …regularly feature updates on the plan in your employee newsletter?
  • …highlight your latest initiatives on social media?
  • …address the engagement issue and highlight your plans in company-wide meetings and teleconferences?

You don’t want employees to say they didn’t get the memo. And speaking of communication…

Step Five: Seek Input from Key Stakeholders and Build Your Planning Document

These initiatives are great. But if they only come as initiatives from on high—the person making the decisions—then they won’t create the engagement you signed up for.

Group of HR colleagues discussing plans and gathering feedback and buy-in

Instead, engage with everyone involved:

  • Gather feedback from employees as to the changes they’d like you to make
  • Find out what managers have to say about these changes, and whether they’re possible within the current structure
  • Involve leadership to get different perspectives and make sure the entire company is bought in from the top

Employees are the key here. Two things will happen if they feel like they’re invested in the solutions to their lack of engagement. First, they’ll be aware of your changes, highlighting that your surveys had a real purpose behind them. Second, they’re more likely to feel engaged with the results. They’re becoming just as much a part of the solution as leadership is.

Build your action plan

Once you’ve got sign-offs from employees and stakeholders, draft the action plan document. Include the following:

  • Background and analysis. Include key data from your Peoplelytics reports. This explains the why behind the changes. Try to include key benchmarks from your industry to create a more compelling case for why the action plan exists—for example, are you generating 40% engagement in an industry that has 70% on average? 
  • SMART goals. Include all five elements of the SMART goals. You don’t have to write that you chose a SMART goal. Simply include the specifics of your goal, including why you chose this goal. Then, highlight the KPIs from future surveys to show whether you achieved these goals.
  • Expected outcomes. What do you want to see as the result of your initiative? Which responses will specifically highlight your improvement? Can you see other tangible results, such as reduced employee turnover rates?

Next, review and revise based on your sharing with key stakeholders. Include HR and department heads. Create a separate “editing” document for people to comment on. You can then incorporate these edits before the next step: the presentation.

Present Your Plan to Leadership

Now you have a more polished, thorough document ready to go. It should include your survey results, the issues you’ve identified in the surveys, and the next steps. 

But that doesn’t tell the entire story. Not if you want leadership to approve the plan.

Remember that there is one key question you have to answer: why? Why is it so important that you make these changes? Why should leaders sign off on a new initiative that may cost the company time, effort, and treasure?

It’s this presentation’s job to answer those questions. You can highlight the benefits of employee engagement and mention where your company is missing key industry benchmarks. But you’ll likely succeed more if you frame everything in terms of ROI: return on investment.

For example, one study found that companies in the U.S. lose about $500 billion yearly due to disengaged workers. Is there a way to frame that in terms of lost revenue for your business? 

Frame this new initiative not as a “nice-to-have,” but more like a leak you’ve discovered that requires immediate patching up.

Next, address any questions or concerns from the executives. With their formal sign-off, you’re ready for the next step: making the plan a reality.

Step Six: Implement the Plan Using Full Communication with Employees

“The kinds of errors that cause plane crashes are invariably errors of teamwork and communication.” -Malcolm Gladwell

Communicating to employees

If you don’t want your plan to crash and burn, we have one word for you: communication. 

By now, you should have been fully transparent with both leadership and employees. You’ve highlighted key trends in the survey findings. Leadership knows where the shortcomings are. Employees know you’re drafting a plan to fix those problems. What’s next?

Good employee communication

The first step is to take your presentation outline and make it digestible. If the plan you brought to executive leadership was a novel, now it’s time for you to trim it down to a short story.

For example, maybe you’ll take a full PowerPoint presentation of 20 slides and distill it into five key points. Give employees something they can hold in one hand, digest it, and offer quick feedback. And make sure those points include:

  • The reason for the initiative. Even if you’ve already covered it, highlight any shortcomings in your employee engagement survey results. This is the “why?” behind the initiative.
  • Your action plan. You don’t have to get into detailed specifics here. Just explain the nature of your plan, what you’re calling it, and the key milestones for launching it.
  • Give employees a recourse for feedback. This shouldn’t just be an announcement. It should be an invitation to participate. Tell employees who to reach if they have feedback or suggestions. This is employee engagement we’re talking about, after all. It would be awfully ironic if you didn’t feel the need to engage them at all.

Develop and implement your next steps

You have your SMART goals, making your objectives measurable and reachable within your timetable. What next? Reverse engineer it. Ask which milestones you need to hit if you’re going to arrive at the destination on time.

  • Schedule an “all-hands” meeting to get your team on the same page. This is when you’ll kick off the initiative. Address any remaining concerns and ask your team about realistic timelines for your first milestones.
  • Work backward from your goal to create the ideal timeline. Let’s say your goal is to turn around your eNPS scores by X amount of points within a year. You plan to take employee engagement surveys every quarter until then. You now have a simple timeline for measuring your progress: can you get one quarter closer to the new results with each survey?

Step Seven: Monitor Your Progress and Adjust as Needed

Dwight D. Eisenhower said plans might be worthless, but planning is essential. In other words, even if your plan doesn’t work, the act of planning itself will help you prepare for what goes wrong.

Charts and data tables on computer screens

Your plan should include contingency plans if you miss your milestones. What if you’ve gotten through three quarters of the year, but your survey results haven’t improved by 75% of your goals? That’s when you can adjust your engagement initiative to address what’s working and what’s not.

To facilitate this, you’ll need two key elements as part of your plan:

  • Progress monitoring. With Peoplelytics, you can use employee pulse surveys made from premade templates to gauge employees’ temperature quickly. Don’t overuse this, of course. But you can schedule these before your milestones to run monthly, quarterly, bi-annually, or annually. Let employees know why these surveys matter (because they’re steering your direction for the initiative), and then parse through the results to see if you’re on track to meet your objectives.
  • Hold all-hands meetings to make any adjustments. Schedule a few all-hands meetings in advance so you can review the results of these surveys. Let your team know what to prepare in advance, such as suggestions to improve lagging results or highlights as to which aspects of the new engagement initiative are working so well, so you can double down on those results.

Even when done right, your adjustment might sometimes feel like you’re doing it by the seat of your pants. But if you know your strategies for digesting employee feedback in advance, you’ll have a step-by-step guide for tackling your initiative if results are lagging.

Step Eight: Evaluate Your Success and Generate a Report on the Outcomes

Congrats! You’ve reached your milestone. What’s next?

Checklist

If you’re using Peoplelytics, you’ll have a pile of data at your fingertips. Parse through the data by focusing on your KPIs, then prepare a reporting document you can present to executives and employees. Make sure to include:

  • Final results: Did you or did you not achieve your SMART goals? If you exceeded your goals, highlight that—and mention why you think you did.
  • Evaluations: If you did meet your goals, what was the key driver of your success? Can you highlight one particular part of the initiative that drove improved results? Don’t be afraid to hypothesize here.
  • Feedback for future improvement: Whether you achieved your goals or not, you likely learned something about your employees. Maybe you learned what initiatives won’t resonate with them. Maybe you learned new key levers that drive up engagement. Include that feedback as suggestions for future initiatives.
  • Impact: Finally, address the impact you believe your engagement had. For example, if you rose your employee engagement levels higher than industry benchmarks, you can create a rough estimate for the cost savings this creates in reducing employee churn.

Turning Answers into Actionable Insights

It’s amazing how one employee’s click on a computer screen can dramatically impact how engaging your company is. But when you use a platform like Peoplelytics, clicks become data—and data leads to solutions. Complete the steps above to create a smart, actionable plan based on your employee survey data, and you can drive up engagement, increase revenue, and raise employee morale.


Ready to start? Book a demo with Peoplelytics and find out how it can change your business for the better.

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