Strategic Associate Surveys

What makes associate surveys strategic?
The main reason why an associate survey should not be conducted as an ordinary routine HR-project, is that the survey itself impacts the organization, so this intervention should be carefully considered and leveraged for strategic opportunities.

We do not have to apply Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle or other quantum mechanics theories to understand that when we measure the satisfaction level of associates about certain aspects we are at the same time directly affecting their expectations about these aspects. This in turn implies a change of their satisfaction level, i.e. the very thing that is being measured. (Remember that satisfaction is always the delta between experience and expectation. See EUCUSA Methodology for details.)

In our hundreds of survey projects we have discovered that our method is not only superior to other known approaches to employee surveys across company sizes, industries, sectors and cultures. The EUCUSA method is especially suitable for the very best companies, those that want to go “From Good To Great” (© Jim Collins), or want to preserve their excellence.

Spiral of success
It is well known that employee satisfaction strongly correlates with measured customer satisfaction. Satisfied clients mean good business and successful and thus more satisfied and motivated employees who in turn achieve higher satisfaction levels for their customers. This virtuous circle can be preserved by protecting and nurturing the concrete aspects that are responsible for the improvements.
During the time-tested Target and Planning Workshop, representatives of all relevant stakeholders of the company agree upon common goals. This is possible by virtue of the systemic approach of EUCUSA (see Methodology), which focuses on the process and leaves the details to the expertise of the client. The project team develops the survey media and content (i.e. the questions, which we call “aspects”). A concise project plan clarifies the concrete steps, timelines and responsibilities. The project team will also agree on the communication strategy regarding all aspects of the survey, i.e. the amount of openness or secrecy to be maintained within the company and towards the public.

At EUCUSA, when we think about results, we usually ask the following question beforehand: “How will we know afterwards, that the process has been successful?”

  • Ideally, a strategic associate survey
  • Identifies areas of success that need to be preserved and celebrated
  • Identifies problem areas that need immediate attention
  • Identifies opportunities that represent untapped potential
  • Identifies those successful aspects that could create major problems if not preserved
  • Credibly communicates management’s concern for the organization’s associates
  • Includes a feedback strategy and communication of the results to all participants
  • Helps implement cultural change or reinforce cultural values
  • Helps explain strategic goals and to what degree employees are aligned with them
  • Is a fun project rather than a cumbersome burden on associates
  • Is inclusive by involving all stakeholders and decision makers in all phases of the project
  • Has a high participation rate of above 80%.
  • Conveys respect and appreciation both during the survey and in the post-survey feedback sessions
  • Directly leads to action for improvement
  • Immediately raises dedication (motivation) and productivity
  • Helps management understand key drivers for value creation

In more than a decade of servicing clients, EUCUSA has consistently achieved mostly all of these survey benchmarks. This can be verified quite simply by asking our clients. (References).
By comparing their own results with the EUCUSA benchmarking database our clients learn where exactly the company stands. Through internal benchmarking best performers within the organization (such as the best organizational unit) can be showcased and expose potential. A section about benchmarking is included in all EUCUSA main reports. For more details on our benchmarking see EUCUSA Methodology.

Consider the implications on trust before commissioning your HR service provider with an employee survey or doing it yourself.
In associate surveys, anonymity is of pivotal importance. Employees have to be sure that the data is not available to HR, management, trade unions or other entities inside or outside the company, but that the results will only be available in the aggregate. If this principle is violated, participation rates will suffer and – more importantly – the validity of the obtained answers will be seriously jeopardized.

One strategy to safeguard employees’ privacy, is to guarantee that reports are only generated if there is a minimum of 10 responses per group available. This prevents identification by inference. Our tested process for collecting and evaluating paper-based questionnaires (even in large companies with many associates in multiple countries) as well as state-of-the-art security for online questionnaires ensure that employees can feel safe, answer the questions with confidence and reveal their true opinions about critical issues.

Project Timing
The average duration of a survey project, from project kick-off (Target and Planning Workshop) to the presentation of the survey results, is two months. Sophisticated technology ensures that we will beat any survey provider’s time when it comes to collection, evaluation and report generation.

In principle, members of the client-side project team do not have to invest much time: usually, one day for the Target and Planning Workshop and half a day for the presentation of results are sufficient. During the project, the main task of the project team is to promote the survey.

It is a common pitfall that associate surveys are conducted – even if for the right reasons – as some kind of “must-have”, but the process stops with the presentation of the report. The first question most companies try to answer is the usual “Now we have the results, so what?” They try to decide what actionable measures seem necessary or advisable in the light of the survey results (such as suggested by the EUCUSA Action Portfolio). However, this activity is often lacking a structured process and a follow-up strategy.

EUCUSA often assists in this (sometimes quite sensitive) task by conducting or organizing “reflection workshops” at all hierarchical levels of the organization in order to facilitate the development of concrete action plans prompted by the Action Portfolio summary present in every EUCUSA survey report. But EUCUSA can also provide a scalable online monitoring tool to keep track of progress towards identified goals even in very large organizations. In this case, the survey follow-up can take many months or even evolve into a continuous quality loop leading all the way to the next periodic comprehensive employee survey.