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HR Best Practices
HR Best Practices

Reinventing the Employee Survey with Innovative Tooling

Through our daily work with over 1300 organisations, we see many examples of innovative thinking in HR. In this series of 14 best practices we define true "best practices" in HR nowadays. In this seventh case study of this series we will focus on reinventing the Employee Survey with Innovative Tooling with two examples of Top Employers within the Consumer Goods-, and Construction Industry.

Top Employers are taking innovative approaches to allowing their people to share feedback on the things that will make the biggest difference in terms of engagement.

Reinventing the Employee Survey with Innovative Tooling in the Consumer Goods Industry

In 2017, this Top Employer (Global, 80,000 employees) refreshed its employee survey using an innovative format. The company is currently going through a culture change, and the new survey format uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse employee responses and connect the dots between behaviours, actions and outcomes. The focus of this survey looks at different aspects of the company’s transformation journey. Based on the results analysed through artificial intelligence, each round of the survey is adapted to dig deeper into those areas where employees have voiced their concerns. This way, the firm can reliably track improvements over time.

Instead of pushing the survey out to all their people, the company uses a small-scale distribution sample, with each edition going out to around 10,000 employees. The survey follow-up is mainly driven at a local level. Each market/region developed an action plan to follow up on the local results, and different countries could view the progress of each other’s initiatives so they could see what worked in different contexts.

We believe this is a best practice because the survey uses an innovative format. Features of the survey include gamification and word games, which mean teams cannot manipulate their answers. (Many companies experience cases where managers direct employees how to respond to certain questions and this is no longer possible with this kind of format.)

AI is a new frontier in HR. For companies considering using AI in their employee surveys or other HR practices, possible limitations include the cost and the scale needed to make the outcomes impactful. Employers will also want to keep in mind that management will often be resistant to changes in employee surveys, because new versions can produce more negative scores (which reflect badly on management) than previous measurements. 

Reinventing the Employee Survey with Innovative Tooling in the Construction Industry

This Top Employer (Europe, 1600 employees), a French construction firm, is running its employee engagement survey using a collaborative feedback tool, hosted by an external vendor, which is a way for employees to voice their feedback in real time on the issues that matter most to them. Rather than release the survey at set intervals, the online feedback tool is available to all employees all year around, without time restrictions, and is updated daily to show results in real time with the latest responses. In fact, the open comments are viewable to all employees and this is known upfront by respondents and therefore encourages people to share quality feedback.

On an annual basis, the survey shows a higher overall response rate than with a ‘traditional’ engagement survey. The employee group showing the highest response level is middle management and since the new concept was launched in 2017, some managers have taken the initiative to launch the suggested improvements with their teams in response to the feedback. HR continues to play a key role in the process. Towards the end of each year, HR kicks off the “official” follow-up process, to ensure that the follow up actions remain business-aligned.

We believe that this collaborative engagement survey is a best practice because of the high overall response rates and because the process comes across as less ‘regimented’ than a traditional engagement survey that is sometimes forced on employees. For companies considering this kind of collaborative survey approach, the challenge remains on the “social” scale, therefore making sure conversations focus on possible action plans rather than possibly ignoring could be going wrong. Also, Top Employers will want to make sure managers and teams move away from a “waiting” position where they expect the company to propose actions and initiatives, so that they can truly take improvement into their own hands. Employers should also keep in mind that this kind of survey may be impractical to implement for blue-collar workers given the high dependency on technology and year-round connectivity. 

Our Conclusion 

Feedback from employees remains crucial for measuring the impact of the strategies deployed by companies as well as to monitor the quality of the work environment. With external actors proposing new methods of measuring pride, motivation and cultural issues, all Top Employers have an opportunity to truly involve their people in shaping the future direction of their companies.

Curious about the previous topic we've discussed in this series of case studies? Gain more insights on Driving Cultural Change through Leadership Commitment