If you’re like most talent acquisition leaders, you probably pay close to a couple of top line metrics from your eSat surveys. You may be able to rattle off your latest NPS score, or perhaps you keep a close eye on the percentage of your employees who are satisfied or dissatisfied. And honestly, if you’re going to pay attention to just one or two outputs, these aren’t bad choices. They provide a pretty good 20,000-ft view of what’s going on with your workforce.
But what about the other 20+ questions in your survey? Effectively designed (and analyzed) eSat surveys should bring you much closer than 20,000 feet to both your employees and target talent. They should also deliver a range of metrics beyond NPS that you’ll want to keep at your fingertips in between surveys.
Ask Better Questions
When designing an eSat survey (or any survey for that matter), a good rule of thumb is to ask: “How will we use this?” before including a question in your final draft. If the answer isn’t immediately obvious, you might be better off omitting it altogether. Including questions without clear actionability often muddies the water when interpreting results, and worse, it can undermine employee engagement. If you’re not sure why you’re asking the question, there’s a good chance your employees will wonder, too.
Do you really need to ask for ratings across 37 different aspects of the employee experience? Maybe, but probably not. For instance, if your organization’s health benefits are a known sore spot for employees, but there’s nothing you or leadership will (or can) do to address it in the near term, continuing to ask for feedback on this dimension only serves as an unpleasant reminder of the sore spot…and worse, it can cause employees to feel like their feedback isn’t being taken to heart.
Another common misstep is asking for open-ended feedback from employees without having the resources in place to follow-up. If you’re going to include a question like “How can we do a better job of supporting you?” be sure to include a follow-up that asks if the employee would like to be contacted by HR in response to their feedback. And more importantly, set clear expectations for when the employee can expect to hear from HR and have a team in place committed to meeting or exceeding this deadline.
So what should you be asking?
As the voice of your employees, eSat surveys are a great place to keep tabs on your employer brand pillars – that is, the aspects of your organization that your happiest employees find both relevant (something they’re seeking in an employer) and authentic (something they think you’re good at). If you’re not sure what your employer brand pillars are, using an eSat survey to create an employer brand perceptual map is a great place to start.
Once you identify your pillars (also known as your core strengths), employee ratings on these dimensions become key metrics to track along with NPS and other topline metrics. Say, for instance, you determine your happiest employees stay with you because of your work-life balance and supportive leadership. An eSat survey can help you quantify how strongly your employees associate these attributes with your brand, and keep track of how well your brand is performing on these dimensions over time.
For example, our clients often track the “top box” or “top two box” ratings on their brand pillars…in survey-speak, this simply means the % of employees who rate the company “excellent” (top box) and “excellent or very good” (top two box) as key employer brand health metrics. This adds valuable context to shifts they observe in their NPS scores. Seeing a quarter/quarter decrease in your NPS score from 35 to 29 begs the question…why? By keeping tabs on their brand pillar ratings, you can hone in on changes in employee sentiment that may be driving this decrease (or increase) in satisfaction.
eSat surveys can also provide valuable inputs into your recruitment marketing strategy. Do you know how your more satisfied, tenured employees first heard about your company? Even if you have good source tracking in your ATS, chances are it’s not well connected to your HRIS, making this question nearly impossible to answer.
For this reason, we encourage our clients to include a simple question: “Where did you first hear about careers at (company name)?” in their eSat surveys to get a sense of where your best hires are coming from. The results may surprise you, as the cheapest sources of applications and even hires don’t always deliver employees who thrive and will stay with your organization for the long-haul.
One recent Change State client learned that although their employee referral incentive program was immensely popular, it was actually more popular with their least happy employees, who were referring applicants just to earn the extra money. Their happiest employees would likely have referred people even without a financial incentive, meaning the program was likely adding unnecessary cost to the TA budget, while encouraging disgruntled employees to serve as their employer brand’s “voice.”
At the end of the day, the ultimate test of whether your employee satisfaction survey is effective is whether you find yourself using it as an ongoing resource to help you better understand your employees and hone your recruitment marketing efforts. If you have trouble remembering when you last looked at the data, or where the data even lives within your organization, it might be time for an overhaul.
Do you have questions about how to make employee satisfaction surveys more actionable? We’re here to help.