5 Things Managers Can Learn From Employee Survey Data (And What to Do Next)

5 Things Managers Can Learn From Employee Survey Data (And What to Do Next)

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Alice feels she’s being micromanaged at work, so she decides to bring it up with her manager immediately. The conversation goes smoothly and the micromanagement stops. Sound familiar?

If not, it’s because this idealized scenario is far from the norm. In reality, we live in a world where many employees suffer in silence or leave their jobs. They do this instead of voicing their concerns.  Yet, those uncomfortable truths (often surfaced only through employee surveys or exit interviews) may hold the key to building a more engaged workforce.

This article covers five buckets of critical information managers can learn from employee survey data, and what to do with that information once you have it.

1. Employee Engagement Levels

As recent Gallup data suggests, U.S. employee engagement has plummeted to an 11-year low. Failing to acknowledge low employee engagement  can lead to several negative consequences, such as reduced productivity, employee retention, customer service, quality of work, or company profitability. For employers, regularly asking questions like, “On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you with your current job?” – especially when asked in an appropriate setup like an anonymous survey – are critical to obtaining a real understanding of employee morale.

Survey response rates tell you whether your employees care about their work and the team’s success. But their answers to your questions on the work culture, connections, and the impact of their work let you know the story beyond the data. What are their joys, frustrations, and aspirations? Why is the engagement high/low? With these insights, you can then plan how to engage your workforce.

2. Team Dynamics and Communication

Another piece of data organizations can gather through employee surveys is whether or not there are communication barriers within the team. It may sound cliche, but strong communication remains key to business success.

If you work in hybrid or remote environments, it’s important to ask your team if they face any collaboration challenges. The problem can sometimes lie in the communication technologies and platforms your company uses. It can also come from how infrequently people communicate. And, at times, challenges may arise from bad conflict management.

These communication obstacles prevent your team dynamics from being effective. Identifying them early helps you select the right communication tech and training to refine your communication processes.

3. Work-Life Balance

It’s not an employer’s obligation to remove every obstacle in an employee’s life. Yet more employees than ever are complaining of burnout in their workplaces. And we all know (maybe too well) about how bad burnout is for job performance. So, it’s worth paying attention to their well-being and giving them support.

One way to gauge your team’s work-life balance is by asking the right questions. Surveys about workload, stress levels, and work-life boundaries can provide valuable insights for this.

  • Do they often feel stressed or burned out?
  • Do they find it hard to disconnect from work outside of traditional office hours?
  • Can and do they take breaks and recharge outside of work?

Understanding these dynamics helps you tailor support where it’s needed most. Plus, creating a psychologically safe working environment doesn’t have to be expensive. Still, it can go far in showing your talent that their employer cares. Also, employee assistance programs are a great way to demonstrate commitment to employee wellbeing. These can include preventative care for mental and behavioral health to life challenges and crisis management.

4. Career Development Opportunities

New research finds that workers may be quitting less. But, they still want career advancement and feel employers aren’t giving it. Most employers (62%) say their company offers internal promotions. But, only 36% of workers agree with this assertion. Similarly, 90% of employers say they offer career development. But, only 69% of workers say this is true.

Do your employees feel supported in their career growth within your company? Are they satisfied with the recognition and feedback they receive for their efforts? Knowing how employees view career development shows how effective your current strategies are. It also tells you the type of recognition, mentorship, training programs, and career pathways that resonate with your team.

5. Feedback on Management Effectiveness

This statement won’t surprise anyone: providing feedback to your manager is anything but easy. It requires lots of courage to share thoughts, especially when they might be critical. So much so that oftentimes, employees would rather sweep their thoughts under the rug than confront them.

Pro Tip:   Anonymous surveys can offer a safe space for honest feedback. They allow employees to openly share how they feel about management skills, leadership styles, or other team decision-making dynamics.

Move from Listening to Action

When your employees have the chance to say, “You might have overlooked this,” it makes them feel valued. It also adds a great layer of collaboration. But, it’s essential to remember that listening means nothing without action. As Gethin Nadin puts it, “Nothing will boost engagement more than asking someone what they need. Nothing will kill it quicker than not acting on what they said.”

Once you receive your employee survey results, take a look at the following five steps to identify the right action plan to begin making progress in key areas.

  1. Review feedback results.
    Take time to analyze the feedback received from employees. Sometimes, the issues are not clear from the data alone. They need employee segmentation, benchmarking, or additional analysis to surface what’s more important.
  2. Choose areas to prioritize.
    Employee feedback may highlight many areas for improvement. But, focusing on a select few (our rule is three at most) ensures each gets enough attention. You should include your people in this process, too. For example, a one-on-one is great for discussing an individual’s growth plan and ongoing goals and development opportunities. Meanwhile, an open dialogue where team members can agree on top areas to address probably makes more sense for broader issues surfaced in a survey.
  3. Plan.
    With top action areas and employee priorities in hand, it’s time to create an action plan. A good plan should outline specific steps, responsibilities, and timelines for each action. Transparency is just as important. Be sure to put the plan in visible places. This way, everyone can see the plan and track progress against the plan over time.
  4. Take action.
    Execute your plan hand in hand with your team. The shared ownership of the improvement process not only enhances team engagement, but also increases the odds of success.
  5. Establish a culture of continuous feedback.
    Responding to feedback should be an ongoing process and should become part of your organization’s normal culture. Utilizing frequent feedback mechanisms, such as regular pulse surveys, can help you stay connected with how employees feel. They let you iterate on your efforts and adjust as needed.

This article was contributed by Anh Nguyen from Select Software Reviews.