ESAT Key Steps
Acting on the Results of an Employee Satisfaction Survey

Your company has committed the resources to survey its employees, the employees were enthusiastic about participating and now you have the survey results in your hand. What do you do with the survey data? What are the next steps in improving the satisfaction of your employees? How should the results be distributed? How do you identify the most important areas to focus on? Once the areas are identified, what's the most effective method of realizing improvements in those areas?

While the answers to many of these questions are largely the product of a company's organizational culture, it's crucial that the employees be actively involved in the post survey phase if an organization is to attain significant improvements in employee satisfaction with minimal resources.

Distribution of Survey Results

From the beginning, senior executives must determine who gets what type of report. Should department managers receive reports from other departments? Are divisional reports needed and who should receive them? Should supervisors receive specific reports and line managers receive reports? Who should review employee comments? See sharing the results for more information on this.

Once the survey results are distributed, an action plan must be created to decide which areas are most important to the employees and how best to improve those areas.

Communicate Survey Results and Action Plans to Your Employees

One of the biggest mistakes organizations can make in the survey process is to fail to communicate to everyone the findings of the survey and the plans created to improve weak areas. While we do not suggest distribution of the complete survey report to everyone, we do recommend an open and honest discourse of both organizational strengths and areas for improvement at the department level if possible. Along with the survey findings, dialogue of what action the company plans to take to address those organizational weaknesses also must occur.

Admittedly, the method of company communication and the content of those messages are again, influenced by the company's culture. Failing to reveal the results of the survey and to take action to correct shortcomings can prove detrimental to company satisfaction. In fact, companies are better off not surveying at all if they don't plan to take action. Inaction by company decision makers results in an almost immediate decline of employee morale and a general feeling of apathy. Furthermore, failing to act can severely impact future attempts to gauge the satisfaction of your employees in the future. It's been our experience, however, that those organizations that solicit input from its employees both in terms of deciding which areas to focus on and creating novel approaches to deal with those areas are the ones that achieve the greatest amount of improvement in the shortest amount of time with minimal resources.

Develop Action Plans To Improve Employee Satisfaction

Once the survey results have been distributed and critical areas identified, organizations must decide upon the most effective means to improve those items. Some executives charge the individual department managers with creating and implementing improvement processes. Other more culturally dynamic organizations involve employee in the process by making them part of task forces and focus groups to better understand and act upon the survey findings. Effective use of employee groups creates new levels of employee trust and organizational commitment. In addition, focus groups facilitate the implementation of meaningful changes, which have a real impact on employee satisfaction. A recent client in the pharmaceutical industry which surveys its employees semi-annually has realized valuable gains in employee satisfaction using focus groups, decreasing employee turnover by nearly 50% in a 2-year period. Whichever method is used, there are three keys to success:

  1. Goals and incentive setting at the lowest possible organizational level,
  2. Periodic follow through by senior executives to ensure improvement plans are effectively created and implemented,
  3. Rapid deployment.

Also, don't forget to have a plan in place to bring new managers up to speed on the survey findings and resulting action plans.