Your 6-Step Survey Follow-Up Plan
Gathering anonymous employee feedback (through a culture survey, employee engagement survey, or any type of employee satisfaction survey) is a core step in managing your company culture.
But you can’t stop at one employee engagement survey. Your follow-up is just as important as sending a survey in the first place; employees whose managers follow up with them following a survey are 12 times more likely to be engaged.
This post will provide you with six concrete steps to take after sending your employee satisfaction survey, so you can feel confident tackling this process.
Step 1: Thank your team
Immediately after your survey closes, send an email to all employees thanking them for their feedback. Explain that you are working as a team to understand the results and develop a plan of action. If possible, mention any concrete deadlines, such as an upcoming company-wide meeting where you will share results, so that employees know when to expect more news.
Pro tip: This email should come from a senior leader to demonstrate that employee feedback is taken seriously.
Step 2: Understand the results
Now to the fun (or perhaps scary) stuff. The next step is to understand what the information you gathered means for your organization. At this point, refrain from jumping to conclusions or forming a plan of action too quickly. Instead, focus on synthesizing your data and identifying a few key trends among the results.
A few data points to consider:
- Absolute scores – which culture or engagement scores are high or low?
- Relative scores – how does your score compare to benchmark data?
- Trends over time – have your culture or engagement scores increased or decreased over time?
- Demographic comparisons – how do scores compare across department, location, tenure, or organizational level?
- Employee comments – these are filled with golden nuggets of information!
- Response rate – did employees feel comfortable responding? Is this dataset complete?
- Response rates by group – did certain departments have higher or lower response rates? Why might this be?
- Driver analysis – how do the culture scores relate to each other, or to other metrics within the organization?
Using all of these data points, we recommend organizing the feedback into 2-3 key themes (or storylines) that touch upon pain points and strengths. Your pain points will show you the areas to develop action points around, and your strengths will give you insight into what’s replicable and repeatable in other areas within your organization. They might also reveal opportunities for recognition among employees.
Another tip is to not hog the results. Whether you share results with a stakeholder or a peer, the fresh pair of eyes might notice patterns in the feedback that you missed.
Step 3: Dig deeper into your key themes
Now that you’ve identified 2-3 key themes from your data, dig deeper to better inform your findings. One technique is to send a quick follow-up survey. For example, if your results revealed that your company has weak communication, send a survey with a few questions specifically focused on communication. Sample survey questions are:
- What is one piece of information that would most help you in your job?
- What do you receive too much information about?
- Which of these tools are important in helping you work?
Focus groups are another opportunity to dive deeper into the results. Host a group of volunteers to discuss specific pain points and how to improve them in the organization. This will provide additional context around the feedback and draw on different strengths and viewpoints, all while gaining employee buy-in.
Step 4: Develop an Action Plan
Based on your initial findings and your deeper dives, you now have the resources to develop an informed, data-driven action plan.
Focus is key here. We’re serious, if you can take only one thing away from this whole post, it should be to focus your efforts. Rather than creating a laundry list of suggested improvements, build out 2-3 initiatives that most directly address your findings.
Just as importantly: get feedback on your plan to ensure it’s measurable, actionable, and impactful. For example, take your plan the company’s leadership team for their input and support. Or, you could follow up with your focus groups here, for instance. However you approach this stage, make sure you’ve built a watertight action plan that the company can put into play immediately and has some sort of accountability attached to it. What can employees expect to see in 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Have the answers to these questions ready. Leading us to the next step…
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Step 5: Communicate survey findings and action plan to employees
After you have reviewed the results and have a plan of attack, share it with employees. This step is key. According to a Towers Watson study, companies with effective change and communication are 3.5 times as likely to significantly outperform their peers. Communicating the survey results and action plan establishes shows employees that their feedback has legs, while also establishing accountability around taking action.
During this step, explain what the company’s 2-3 areas of focus are and what distinct changes, initiatives, or programs employees can expect to see in the near future. Further, be sure to mention if the survey feedback informed long-term, strategic plans. As with the initial communication in Step 1, this presentation is best coming from a senior leader.
If you’re using CultureIQ, you can auto-generate a visual report from the results. Otherwise, manually create a report to distribute or discuss. We’ve detailed three best practices on effectively communicating your survey results here. They include:
- Providing an overview of top-level results across the organization, ideally at a company-wide town hall.
- Managers sharing the details, team-level results, and team-level changes in a team meeting. Managers should be prepared to discuss what each company-wide initiative means for their team, as well.
- Managers asking for feedback in one-on-one follow ups with their team members.
6. Take action and repeat
After you have prioritized and shared your feasible initiatives, press start! Culture should be treated just like any other strategic initiative with goals, timelines, and accountability.
Culture is ongoing and dynamic, so this process requires refining along the way. Continue to collect feedback on the initiatives you implement to assess their effectiveness and make improvements going forward. Whenever appropriate, explicitly mention how the survey results informed specific programs and decisions.
This all ties into creating a culture of employee feedback and open communication. To create an employee feedback culture within your team, consider implementing simple measures like:
- Establishing an open door policy and reminding employees you’re open to feedback
- Posing targeted questions to your employees after meetings or new process changes
- Hosting events, like happy hours and team lunches, to open up channels for informal feedback
Want to learn more about creating a culture of employee feedback? We’ve covered this topic here in a previous post.