Employee surveys: Time to take action

by Cameron Edmond28 Nov 2013
Despite conducting them, many organisations are failing to take action based on annual employee survey results. This means that problem areas aren’t addressed, driving up recruitment costs and lowering retention.
“The business world has known for years that the insight from employee surveys is invaluable and can directly impact on financial results,” Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays in Australia & New Zealand, said. “The link between happy employees, customer satisfaction and profit is strong. So why aren’t more organisations using this information?” Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays in Australia & New Zealand, said.
Deligiannis stressed that employee surveys can, when used correctly, offer an array of data. It allows HR to tap into the knowledge, experience and opinions of employees, but many still fail to leverage this information.
The impact of action taken from employee surveys can be seen in department store group Sears, who managed to turn around a net loss of US$3.9bn. This turn around was successful due to the creation of the Employee-Customer-Profit measurement model, of which collected employee data was a big part.
The Harvard Business Review detailed the progression of this model, which began by setting three pillars for the organisation: employee, customer and profit.
Sears’ goal in each area was to make it “compelling”: a compelling place to work, a compelling place to shop and a compelling place to invest.
To help achieve the first point, Sears analysed the responses to 10 questions out of a 70 question survey, as these had a higher impact on employee behaviour:
  • I like the work I do.
  • My work gives me a sense of accomplishment.
  • I am proud to say I work at Sears.
  • How does the amount of work you are expected to do influence your overall attitude about your job?
  • How does the way you are treated by those who supervise you influence your overall attitude about your job?
  • I feel good about the future of the company.
  • Sears is making the changes necessary to compete effectively.
  • I understand our business strategy.
  • Do you see a connection between the work you do and the company’s strategic objectives?
These questions informed Sears of employees’ attitude about their job and about the company. Together, these equated to the majority of employee behaviour.
It was then found that employee behaviour fed into service/helpfulness and merchandise/value, both of which made up customer impression, which then translated into revenue growth.
In essence, the model begins with designing a ‘compelling place to work’, which will inform and heavily influence making Sears a ‘compelling place to shop’ and a ‘compelling place to invest’.
Deligiannis stated that fear of personal criticism is often a reason why employee survey data is not properly assessed. “That’s where strong leadership is critical. The survey data must be recognised as a way of identifying problem areas and training needs before they become too serious,” he said. 
Key HR takeaways
Hays recommends the following tips for HR to optimise employee surveys:

  • Stop conducting surveys only yearly/biannually. Switch to more real-time data through online technology, deriving more precise insights. Short polls to staff of one business unit, for instance.
  • Do not analyse in isolation. All data should be looked at in unison. How does the information from staff surveys correlate with new hire and exit surveys, as well as customer feedback?
  • Look beyond basic data. Ask why the data is the way it is. What do the results tell you about a location with below average or low performance?
  • Act. Above all, you must act on this data. Identify problem areas and address training needs. Otherwise, you are just wasting time.


  • by Jon Williams 28/11/2013 1:13:14 PM

    We've found this quite strongly - building action into your surveys is essential. And should be done from the ground up: http://blog.cultureamp.com/encouraging-action-based-on-survey-results

Most Read