Why Organizations Fail to Take Action Post-Engagement Survey and How to Avoid It

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In some organizations, the closing of the annual census survey represents the conclusion of employee engagement efforts until next year. The results of the survey are delivered, but no action is taken. After the next survey, employee engagement remains stagnant or, even worse, declines.

Hopefully, the above scenario doesn’t sound familiar, but if it does, we’ve identified four primary reasons survey results are left by the wayside and ways to overcome these hurdles. After all, there’s little reason to survey if the results aren’t acted on.

Employee feedback is disappointing

Maybe the survey didn’t yield the expected results, and engagement levels are lower than expected. It seems the results would paint the organization in a negative light and make leadership look bad.

How to overcome: Don’t focus so heavily on “the score” – that’s not what the survey is about. Its true purpose is to give employees a voice in what’s working well and what can be improved so action can be taken. Instead of fretting over the score, view employee feedback as a road map to help your organization become even stronger.

No one has ownership over the results 

The survey comes back, but no one knows who’s actually responsible for it. Nothing gets done and employee feedback is left unaddressed, decreasing engagement.

How to overcome: Provide clarity for the role each person plays in employee engagement. Develop a plan before the survey launches: what role will HR play? How will managers act on the results? How can leaders hold everyone in the organization accountable for prioritizing engagement? Assigning responsibilities will ensure that the results lead to action, not escape notice.

Engagement feels like just another duty on the to-do list 

Everyone is plenty busy – who has time to actually address the results? Employee engagement isn’t deeply embedded in the organization’s culture, and it’s not viewed as a big deal.

How to overcome: Position employee engagement as a framework for how you operate. You shouldn’t need to take time out to address employee engagement – it should be a part of your everyday culture. You should always be actively seeking ways to improve the employee experience, which will ultimately help retention and profits.

The process is too complicated, so it’s not sustainable 

The survey results present information overload. Upper management has to see and digest the results first, delaying the opportunity for managers to act on the results. Everything about the process feels too complicated.

How to overcome: Have a strategy coming into the survey. Communicate expectations about who will handle what. The best organizations empower managers to take action with their teams, make the process streamlined, set their managers up for success with resources, coaching, and clear expectations.