The start of the New Year is always a time for personal reflection, and this should be the same for business – especially within the area of engagement. It’s also the time of year when the results of the big staff surveys are published.

The surveys are a gold mine of information, perhaps at times providing too much information without offering solutions. Often, businesses tend to focus on their strong points – rather than weaker ones – when looking at the results.

It’s all too tempting to have your next set of HR initiatives reinforce what you already do well – where you get great internal feedback and score highly in the survey results. But is this what the business really needs?

Is there value in also focusing on your lower-scoring areas, in addressing these points of concern that may be out of the business's comfort zone? 

In short, yes – as these are the areas with the greatest capacity for improvement.

However, doing this in isolation may yield results that don’t address the root cause of issues – or sometimes they only address part of the issue. One path for a more embedded solution is to use more of the data you have at your disposal and not just the survey results. It also helps to test your potential solutions with the very people who will benefit from what you’re trying to improve.

Some suggestions to make any initiatives you are planning as successful as possible:

Recruit Champions

People who are positive ambassadors for subjects such as culture, diversity or wellbeing within the business. Your Champions will act as advocates for your new initiatives. They can also provide valuable intelligence and feedback in their area, so you’ll increase your chances of making each initiative a success.

Use your exit interviews wisely

Include questions in your exit interviews that specifically address the areas that have been highlighted for improvement, for example, ‘where do you feel we could have done better in X?’ or ‘how does your new company compare in the area of Y?’ Talking to someone who is leaving the business may unearth a gold nugget of information that you can use to great effect!

Use focus groups

These are small feedback sessions that delve deeply into the areas of biggest concern. This way, you can look for the root causes of issues, test ideas and seek open and honest feedback. Ideally, you should run the focus groups on Chatham House rules to try and obtain the best feedback you can.

 It may be that you need to run multiple focus groups over time, or to have extra sessions with groups or individuals that you feel are particularly candid with you. Similarly, you need to consistently change, challenge and test your exit interview questions to see if they really are what you need. 

Look beyond your strong points, assess where you can make the greatest impact, work with your staff and don’t be afraid to change things as you go along. Employee engagement is about progress, not perfection!

Robert Hicks

Robert is the Group HR Director at Reward Gateway. While running is his top way to unwind, he also loves going to gigs, watching football and cricket, and is known to enjoy the odd ski weekend.

Group HR Director

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