Five Tips on Avoiding the "Survey Slump"

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A TNS Employee Insights’ analysis of the time period following employee engagement surveys, known as the “survey slump”, highlights the value of action planning. When employees feel they have an opportunity to provide feedback, and management communicates effectively throughout the organization, it is possible to keep momentum going and to maximize results. TNS provides five tips to help organizations avoid the “survey slump”.

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"Managers who talk about the importance of engaged employees or promise to act on engagement issues can severely damage their team's contribution and satisfaction if they focus only on result and fail to walk their talk."

TNS Employee Insights, a global leader in employee research, recently conducted an analysis of a common pattern known as the “survey slump” that is often observed following its clients’ employee engagement surveys. This time period, falling between the delivery of the survey results and the launch of the next survey, has proven equally as detrimental to an organization’s success as poor execution or insufficient action planning; all of which TNS says can be avoided with five guiding principles.

1.)    Share survey results, then ask for employees' input regarding the entire survey process. As a team, clarify the results, determine root causes of issues, and develop a plan for the future.
2.)    Maintain excitement and momentum, while balancing everyday work and professional responsibilities.
3.)    Track progress to stay on target. It doesn’t matter if an organization has developed an impressive action plan if its employees cannot find the time or energy to implement its strategic plan.
4.)    Encourage strong commitment throughout the organization for the entire survey process. Action will begin with senior leadership stressing the importance of sharing results with their employees, in addition to taking action based on survey results.
5.)    In the next survey administration, review the action planning agenda from the previous survey. Determine how well the organization's goals were attained.

“Together these principles create a tracking mechanism to measure improvement in key results areas,” says Mike Schroeder, CEO of TNS Employee Insights. “This is crucial to any organization’s success to determine if the action-planning and results-sharing efforts are in alignment.”

Pulse or interim surveys are also often implemented to determine if action-planning efforts support the organization’s sharing and action-planning goals. With these shorter surveys, key driver questions focus on specific action items or management behaviors that drive action planning.

Research shows that sharing results and taking action makes a difference. In 2010, two hospitals within a large healthcare system carried out a survey focusing on key management behaviors that drive action planning. Respondents were asked if their department leader presented the employee survey results in a complete and open manner; and if the individual felt that action would be taken as a result of the employee survey.

This TNS research found that overall when results were shared and action was taken, the group scored 27 percentage points higher than those groups who said no results were shared and no action was taken. These results highlight the importance and significance of sharing results and taking action, as noted by Allen Kraut in Getting Action from Organizational Surveys: New Concepts, Technologies, and Applications.

According to BlessingWhite Research, “Managers who talk about the importance of engaged employees or promise to act on engagement issues can severely damage their team’s contribution and satisfaction if they focus only on results and fail to walk their talk.”

Overall it is evident that the real value in the survey process happens when action is taken. Because employee surveys generate all the information in one place, it is important to remember TNS' five guiding principles suggested to avoid the “survey slump”. Mid way through the survey cycle, take an assessment of how people are doing. Ask questions to gauge if employees feel that results of the survey were positive and if it provided the organization with an indication that the results-sharing and action-planning efforts are moving forward.

To read the full six page article, please download “Avoiding the Survey Slump” here. For additional research or more information about TNS Employee Insights, please contact TNS or visit the company website.

TNS Employee Insights – Measuring and Inspiring Higher Performance

TNS Employee Insights partners with organizations to measure the vital link between employees and customers. TNS offers creative solutions for increasing: retention of top talent, engagement, brand experience and growth. Additionally, TNS provides an end-to-end solution with our survey platforms and consulting services.

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