In a dynamic work landscape, companies are confronted with challenges such as increasing competition, growing attention to employee well-being, and changing needs of new generations. Against this backdrop, an employee satisfaction survey (MTO) is increasingly recognized as a crucial tool for success.
An ESS enables an organisation to understand what motivates and keeps employees happy, and which aspects of the working environment need improvement. This helps create an environment where employees want to be and contributes to talent attraction and retention. It encourages development, increases productivity and reduces absenteeism.
The popularity of free survey tools has led more organisations to choose to conduct their ESSs internally to save costs and have more control over the process. However, this brings unique challenges. Designing an effective and fair questionnaire requires special attention, taking into account issues such as scientific validity and a balanced mix of open and closed questions. Moreover, approval must be obtained from the management team and the works council, which can be a time-consuming process. In addition, factors such as ensuring anonymity and survey fatigue can affect response rates.
After the survey is conducted, the hardest part actually still has to begin: interpreting the data collected and creating action plans. To support organisations through these challenges and help develop a data-driven talent management strategy, Learned has formulated a modern vision for employee satisfaction surveys (ESS). This vision is based on six crucial elements:
1. Use of an academically validated questionnaire:
To get the right insights, it is important to focus on scientifically proven themes, such as leadership, communication, development opportunities and work-life balance. These are some of the factors that have a significant impact on employee engagement. The quality of the research depends on the themes chosen and the questions asked.
This is where the Learned Engagement Model comes in, which we have developed based on extensive academic research. This model highlights 18 themes that have a positive impact on employee engagement, which in turn influence key business outcomes such as Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS), absenteeism, turnover and productivity.
The benefits of the Learned Engagement Model are as follows:
- Scientific questionnaire: By working with a science-based model, we eliminate the risk of differences in interpretation. This ensures that your organisation actually measures what it wants to know, without bias or subjectivity.
- Simplified interpretation of results: The model is built around 18 themes, making it easier to interpret the results. You first analyse the main themes and then zoom in further on the underlying questions. This structured process helps you better understand the findings and determine targeted actions.
- Benchmark results: We provide organisations with insight into benchmark data for their specific industry. This allows you to assess whether a score on a particular theme can be considered “good”, or whether there is room for improvement compared to other players in the market.
2. Continuously measure, gather feedback and implement improvements:
A modern ESS goes beyond a one-off measurement. It should be a continuous process, with regular feedback collected and used to improve the organisation. Modern methods such as continuous pulse surveys are a powerful tool in this regard. By regularly conducting short surveys, organisations can collect real-time feedback and continuously improve employee engagement.
Our advice for a modern ESS cycle is as follows:
- Zero measurement: Start with a basic questionnaire covering all topics, but limit yourself to 2 (or 3 at most) questions per variable. This keeps the questionnaire concise and encourages participation. The baseline measurement provides an insight into the current situation of the organisation based on the 18 themes.
- Pulse Survey: Follow up the baseline measurement with a pulse survey using the full questionnaire, consisting of 90 questions measuring the 18 themes. Determine a frequency of 1, 2 or 4 weeks, asking 2, 3 or 6 questions each time. This continuous process measures engagement, collects feedback and provides insight into the effectiveness of potential improvement plans.
- Additional Surveys: When the organisation is comfortable with the process, add other surveys, such as onboarding evaluations and exit interviews. This provides valuable insights into the onboarding process and collects structured feedback from departing employees.
- Sentiment measurement: If you don’t want to start with a pulse survey right away, consider a sentiment measurement. With just 5 questions, you can constantly measure sentiment within the organisation. This helps to identify which employees are more engaged and who may be less satisfied. However, if you opt for the more comprehensive pulse survey, these questions are redundant as the 18 themes provide broader and deeper insights.
- Custom Surveys: As an organisation, you also have the freedom to send other surveys. For example, do you want to know the team’s opinion on a specific event or get ideas for a new marketing campaign? Create your own template and get started. You can choose whether answers are given anonymously or non-anonymously.
3. Data-driven decision-making:
The ultimate goal of an ESS is for an organisation to gain insight into usable and reliable data that can be used for data-driven decision-making. This means that the data collected should be quantitative and qualitative, providing insight into the key drivers of employee engagement. Based on this, strategic HR initiatives can be developed and implemented.
Applying the Learned Engagement Model provides insight into scores by variable. Filtering these scores by team clearly identifies challenges within the organisation. Thanks to this method, it is possible to maintain effective reporting even with a set anonymity limit (at least three respondents per team). This enables the HR or project team to identify exactly where action is required to improve employee engagement.
4. Anonymity and confidentiality:
Ensuring anonymity and confidentiality is crucial for a contemporary ESS. It is essential that employees feel safe and free to give their honest and sincere feedback without fear of any negative consequences. The anonymity of free survey software is often questioned by employees, as it is often linked to their IP address or e-mail address.
In Learned, we can guarantee this anonymity. This is also clearly communicated throughout the process. Moreover, the Learned platform allows employees to communicate anonymously. This allows them to receive support and advice on their challenges without having to reveal their identity. In this way, active participation is really encouraged.
5. Agile methodology
A modern ESS should focus on encouraging active improvement actions within the organisation It goes beyond just collecting data and identifying problem areas, but is about taking targeted action to increase employee engagement and satisfaction.
According to our vision, organisations work in short sprints to address specific areas of concern. This starts with creating a project schedule together with the project group. Decide when you will tackle which issues, how you want to improve them and when you will present the results. Through support from the Customer Success team, organisations benefit from the best practices of other companies. By taking a targeted approach to each topic, organisations can make targeted improvements, measure impact and achieve success. To support organisations in this process, we also offer a clear 10-step plan for carrying out a modern ESS.
6. Active stakeholder engagement
Active involvement of stakeholders, including management, team leaders and employees, is essential for a modern Employee Satisfaction Survey (ESS) It is advisable to present all results to all employees during a joint meeting. This focuses on the positive findings, but also discusses the less favourable results. Ignoring negative results can undermine the credibility of the survey. It makes sense to make these sessions as interactive as possible so that you can also gather feedback and insights from colleagues.
In addition to a joint presentation, it is important to integrate the action items that emerge from the sprints into regular meetings within the organisation. These topics can be put on the agenda of management team meetings and discussed with managers by HR business partners. Actively involving employees in the process, discussing results and jointly developing improvement actions increases employee acceptance and commitment to improving the working environment.
In summary, a modern ESS is a continuous process based on a scientifically validated questionnaire, data-driven decision-making and the active involvement of stakeholders. It should provide a safe environment for open feedback, focus on taking concrete actions and use an agile approach. By applying these principles, organisations can effectively improve employee engagement and satisfaction.