What you put into something is what you'll get out of it.
That statement is true for most areas of the life – the more effort you exert, the better the returns. It holds true for survey demographics. Demographics are critical to uncover what parts of your organization are thriving and which could use some work. But if you don’t take the time and effort to create representative demographic groups, your data will be all over the place and won’t tell a complete story.
Here are five common mistakes we see organizations make and how to overcome them:
PROBLEM: Employees are only broken down into generic demographic groups such as age, tenure, and gender. The results from these groups can yield some insights, but the broad parameters make it difficult to take meaningful action. You’re not likely to treat people differently based on that data.
SOLUTION: Consider how your organization functions and break down employees into more targeted groups like division, department, job level, and location. This will more accurately pinpoint strengths and weaknesses.
PROBLEM: Employees are broken down into too specific of groups based on job title. For example, your organization might have employees with the roles of “Director of Insights,” “Senior Analyst,” and “Analyst.” They’re all doing fairly similar jobs but are separated in your demographic breakdown.
SOLUTION: Create new demographic groups that pull in similar employees with slightly different job titles. Instead of getting insufficient results at each level, you can examine your teams of analysts as a whole.
PROBLEM: The same boring demographic groups are kept year after year. While it’s useful to have results to compare, you’re not actively looking for ways to uncover more meaningful data.
SOLUTION: Put some thought into more targeted groups that are a bit outside the norm. For example, let’s say you recently conducted a pulse survey to capture employee perceptions about leadership accountability. Create a demographic for the surveyed employees and judge whether their engagement scores improved. Other possibilities include groups of employees who were recently promoted, were assigned as mentors, or have been in a certain role for years. Get creative.
PROBLEM: Your demographic groups don’t give you a solid understanding of your managers. Managers are a vital piece of the puzzle in creating an engaged culture. You’re missing a critical opportunity if you don’t capture their perceptions. For instance, if you managers don’t understand your organization’s plans for future success, how are they going to be able to get their direct reports to understand, let alone buy into those plans?
SOLUTION: Break your managers into groups. Employees tend to fall into one of three groups: contributors, managers, or managers of managers. You can break down your managers into deeper groups if you wish, but starting with those three classes will really help your data.
PROBLEM: It’s assumed that breaking employees into cleaner, updated, and accurate demographic groups will be time-consuming and difficult.