One of the common worries about employee surveys is that people won’t tell the truth. When you spend the money and go through the trouble of doing a survey, you want to believe that you’re getting the truth about what’s going on. Here’s some bad news. People lie on surveys. Sometimes they tell small lies and sometimes they tell big ones. Sometimes they don’t even know they’re lying. In fact, even on customer surveys, some experts suggest that as many as 50% of people are less than truthful in their answers. So, even when people have little to nothing at stake, they aren’t totally honest.
My job requires that I fly pretty frequently. Over the past few years, the airline I use most often has adopted the practice of sending me a survey following every flight. The email with the survey invite usually says something about how much they value my opinion. When these first started showing up in my inbox, I would occasionally respond. Typically, it was after a less-than-optimal flight experience when I was a little disgruntled. These were the moments when it seemed my feedback would be most valuable. Or at least, it was the time I most wanted them to hear me so future flights might be better. I took them at their word that my opinion mattered to them (although I’ll admit to being skeptical). Each time, after clicking send on the survey, I’d wait for some kind of response. I’m still waiting.
A well-executed employee survey can be a powerful tool to improve engagement and performance in any organization. At the same time, a poorly executed survey can actually create confusion and disillusionment that negatively impacts these same outcomes. As you prepare for your next survey, take care to avoid these mistakes to ensure you make a positive impact instead of an unintended negative one.
Listening is one of those things that you probably don’t spend much time thinking about but ends up having a big impact on your life. For example, I’m the parent of a “tween” daughter who is finding it more and more challenging to listen to me. Just yesterday, I asked her nicely to clean up the mess she’d left the evening before. She had nodded when I first asked. To ensure that she heard me, I reminded her again a bit later. She nodded again. I assumed we were good and that I was understood.
It's become easier than ever to survey your employees. The technology is at your fingertips to create and send a survey whenever you want. This is both a good and a bad thing. While a survey can be one of the most powerful tools at your disposal in HR and management, the data you collect through a survey is only as good as the employee survey design. Poorly designed surveys can result in misleading or unusable data. And to make matters worse, they’re confusing and frustrating for your employees. Good design is essential to ensuring that your survey has its desired effect.
If you’ve been in HR for at least a few years, you’ve probably either administered or supported the use of employee surveys. Surveys have become one of the go-to tools as we try to create a better employee experience. As someone who loves surveys and collecting data, I’m thrilled that the use of surveys has become so commonplace. Employee surveys can be incredibly valuable and powerful when used the right way. The problem is that far too many surveys are poorly conceived and don’t ultimately solve the problem that prompted their creation.
This is the last of my 8-post series about preparing your organization for the future of work. In each post, we looked at a data-based trend that is or will be disruptive to work as we know it. In the last post, we explored the impact of the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). Today, we’re going to dig into the increasing diversity of our workforce.