In lots of ways, running the survey is the easy bit. This came home to me this week as I spent two consecutive days running post survey feedback workshops for a prestigious organisation with a long history and a conservative, somewhat deferential culture where there is no tradition of employee involvement. Every member of the organisation (it employs over 500 people) was invited to a workshop where the results for their part of the business were presented.
After the survey findings were presented, participants took part in break out sessions where they discussed their reactions and put forward their ideas and suggestions for ways to make theirs a better place to work. And what an impressive set of suggestions we received! In each case, the relevant senior management team member attended the workshop for their people. Each responded openly and constructively to the comments made and the proposals received. In a number of cases it was clear that the workshops produced completely new and valuable insights. Even when critical comments were made, it was clear that both employees and managers learned from the experience.
The act of running these sessions sent a powerful message to employees, a number of whom had expressed serious doubts about whether there would be any response to the feedback from the workforce. Many were surprised that they were being invited to such a carefully prepared event, where a 'warts and all' picture of the results was given. Cynics were confounded by the honesty of very senior managers who acknowledged the need for change and committed to a series of follow up activities.
The public commitment to a progress-checking survey later in the year completed the impressive statement made by the SMT.
This business was already pursuing a change programme geared to the creation of engagement culture and the survey has been a central component, enabling progress to be measured and publicised. The profile of the top team - previously very low - has been raised dramatically.
Of course it remains to be seen whether the high levels of engagement (which many participants reported) will be sustained, or if business performance will continue to improve, but a major transformation of the organisation is now visibly underway and employees, who were previously unsure about the future, are visibly excited by the prospects that lie ahead.
This post-survey workshop programme is part of a complete cycle of activities which are undertaken in businesses which are committed to getting the most out of their engagement surveys. That process begins with data collection, is followed by feedback and action planning which involves employees directly.
Implementation in this organisation is now underway, and later in the year we'll be re-measuring levels of engagement.
It's almost too obvious a comment that you get out what you put into the survey process. In this case the investment has been considerable but the gains are already enormous.
I'm looking forward to reporting progress early next year.