Improving the process will get more from worker surveys

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Many companies conduct regular employee surveys to find out what staff are thinking and assist in talent management.

Survey programmes are typically aimed at supporting an organisation's overall business and human capital management strategies. Results are used to influence executive decision-making and create change across the organisation when needed.

Despite widespread use, HR practitioners continue to face challenges related to survey feedback and action planning processes. The Kenexa High Performance Institute (KHPI) surveyed a large group of survey practitioners to identify the cause of these challenges and provide answers to address them.

KHPI found the top three barriers were: the execution and importance of the survey programme and the resources associated with action planning post-survey. Together, these issues accounted for 81 per cent of all identified barriers and all three directly relate to senior management - for example, leaders fail to implement action plans, need to be more vocal in their support of the importance of follow-up, and struggle to find time to implement.

Research has also shown the importance of employee engagement with 16 per cent of changes emanating from survey programmes identified as improving employee engagement.

There are three key areas for improvement: match business strategy and survey content, secure greater management accountability in survey follow-up and action planning, and secure the best support from the leadership team to maximise return on investment (ROI).

Many organisations survey because it is a good thing to do, it shows interest in the welfare and morale of employees, and because competitor organisations are doing it.

These are understandable reasons, but will only produce the greatest ROI when seen as part of an organisation's business strategy. The more relevant the content of the survey to business strategy, the more it informs progress by giving executive management critical feedback.

The Kenexa Best Workplaces Survey is run in association with the New Zealand Herald and supported by Kiwibank and the Department of Labour. The survey is now closed for 2012. Please call Kenexa NZ for more information on (09) 378 2003. On the web:

- NZ Herald

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