Monday, October 1, 2012

Eliciting Honest Employee Feedback

In the office I spend part of my time researching the ROI on employee happiness.  One of the toughest parts to figure out before culture shocking your company is to establish the current situation as told by each employee, not the HR Director or the CEO.  The simple method of initial discovery is through a company wide survey or a couple of poll questions.

One of the most effective approaches to eliciting honest employee feedback is to start with high level questions and exaggerate the anonymous nature of the survey.  Set expectations as soon as possible by anonymously reporting the results back, participates will learn the process and begin trusting the survey process.  Trust leads to honest feedback.
Here is your happiness survey checklist:
  1. First thing stated is the policy of confidentiality
  2. No more than 5 questions in one survey
  3. All questions only allow for one dimension answers, no room for unclear responses
  4. Each question is very valuable and provides specific information
  5. At least 1 question is quantifiable for stats and graphs, at least produce variability in responses
  6. None of the responses assumes a certain state of affairs, provide a ‘none of the above’ or ‘other’
  7. Super clear, easy to read, no unfamiliar words or abbreviations
  8. User friendly, if electronic be sure to test it out yourself and on a colleague
  9. Has an expiration date and time
  10. If possible, offer a simple incentive
After you get results back, it is very important to share information on what the collective data means and/or what will be done with it.   If people do not feel the company is committed to positive culture change, they will not value the importance of completing these surveys.  Something actionable must be witnessed to prove that the voice of the employee is strong enough to invoke change.  Video record the CEO announcing the results, what they mean and what he plans to do next is a great way to capture employee interest and buy in.
After the 3-8 min video is approved, send to each the team lead and schedule a time for everyone to stand around and watch it together on one monitor.  Since each team lead with play an important role in evangelizing the happiness initiative, he/she will need to be prepared to listen closely to the reactions from each team member.  If the team is comfortable enough, you can basically get a rating on the response immediately.  In any case, you must always rate the quality of the follow through.
In conclusion, be sure to administer your first couple of survey’s using anonymous approaches, provide immediate response and send a poll to rate the effectiveness of the response.  Do this in iterations and keep improving your methods at every opportunity. Happy Surveying!

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