How to make survey measures count

I saw a lot of organisations reach for the survey lever during the pandemic – a genuine interest and concern to understand or a case of ‘let’s gather some data and insight and that will help us feel like we are doing something’ when it comes to the mental health and wellbeing challenges that most of us are facing across business today?

Not judging

It’s not a bad thing to do, don’t get me wrong – indeed at Calm In A Box, we often recommend that we begin with a CALM survey to kick start the culture change process – particularly when being able to track the impact of an ongoing bundle of activity is going to be important to understanding how much progress is being made.
Nevertheless, having been involved in global employee surveys (as well as the often dreaded action planning that should come thereafter) there are some key considerations when it comes to using surveys across your team, however big or small and whether it’s your first survey or you’ve been through this a number of times already.

Keep it simple

Gone (hopefully) are the days of extensively long global employee surveys which end up long forgotten by the time the results come out. More and more the trend is to move to pulse surveys which are shorter and carried out more frequently. This is a much better way of getting people to take part and enable you to take more meaningful and more timely positive action in response to feedback afterwards.

The survey is not a solution in itself

It’s good to listen but it’s better to talk. It’s essential that there is good communication at all levels, in all directions, before, during and after the survey. Think of the survey as a talking point in itself – a reason to engage and connect – as well as a tool to gather people’s views. Leaders should not hide behind the survey or use the survey as the only way to gather insights from their people. A survey should always sit as a wider consultancy piece if you need support with facilitating this dialogue as it’s not always easy for many leaders, particularly those with very long to do lists, to create space for listening and engaging.

Follow up is key

There is no better way to disengage people than to ask them their view and then do nothing about it – especially when it comes to mental health and wellbeing challenges. At the same time, you don’t have to fix everything either. Involve rather than solve is a good mantra here – people often just want to feel included and listened to as well as that there is hope that everyone, particularly their leaders, are invested in creating a calmer, happier and healthier organisation. Much of this is around signposting commitment around positive intentions as well as coming up with practical small steps forward.

It’s so not about performance

The old, traditional, management mindset was all about focusing down on metrics that would tell us what and who was ‘good’ or bad’. Poor leaders today struggle to let go of this obsession around numbers because they can’t maintain the same control over the grey space when it comes to people and culture. Survey results won’t and shouldn’t give us a polarised view on whether things are ok or not because culture, behaviour and how your people think and feel are constantly shifting. Use the results as insight into a moment in time to start or continue an ongoing dialogue to really understand how to move things forward more positively.