Driving Employee Engagement Through Surveys

Written By: Brian Potts
Date: September 30, 2020

We continue to stress, over and over again, the importance of Organizational Change Management (OCM), yet many organizations are still failing to execute on this core concept as part of their digital transformation. Part of the reason may be because while it sounds good in theory and the “why” is self-explanatory, few people truly understand the “how” of OCM.

Today we are going to share one of the core tactics (the “how”) for engaging your workforce during an ERP implementation or other form of digital transformation: The Organizational Readiness Survey.

It sounds simple, and it is. Simple is what will keep people engaged and supportive during your implementation. We recommend a number of surveys as you progress through your transformation, starting with the base readiness survey. Here are a few pointers to help:

1. Determine the Survey Purpose

This step is commonly overlooked and it is usually more than just wanting to “get people’s opinions”. Here are a few targeted reasons to use surveys; these reasons are more than often combined:

  • Often, a survey can be used to determine employees’ desire for change, asking questions around job satisfaction, satisfaction with current technology platforms, and the understanding of or the desire for different systems to help in their jobs. This can also be a great input for a business case to pitch to executives.
  • Surveys may also be used to determine needs around levels of training or communication for a pending transformation. Starting points for this type of survey question would be asking about perceptions of past and current training, thoughts on communication models, etc.
  • Surveys can and should also be used for communication purposes. Because surveys will include pre-read material, this is an ideal time to share what is happening, why it is happening, and explaining that by responding to this survey each employee’s voice is being heard.
  • Finally, surveys can also be used to identify “hidden” areas of potential concern or resistance to a change. In almost every transformation there are pockets of resistance, and readiness surveys can begin to identify where these may exist.
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2. Timing

Sending surveys at the appropriate time is important, and the purpose as outlined above will help to determine when it should be sent. Sending too early and before there is a defined initiative in place might get people excited prematurely and create a “Boy Who Cried Wolf” situation later on. If surveys are sent too late, people may get the impression that things are already happening without them and not give it too much attention.

3. Participation

Generally speaking, you should consider sending a survey to anyone who may, in any way, be impacted by the change. In the case of an ERP transition, this may be the majority of your company. The reason for this is you do not want to create any areas of resistance through non-inclusion. Regardless of what you do with the survey data, include everyone who may be affected. There are times where this may not be feasible or you have a strong hierarchical structure, and each situation should be evaluated based on what will work for your organization.

4. Who Should Send the Survey

This one is important. If you are intending to send a survey anonymously, which is recommended, you simply cannot send it from an internal resource. Most companies will initially assume that a survey from HR or executive team will be respected, but this is not the case. Most employees are fearful and are aware that their personal responses and associated data are sitting on internal systems and are at risk of eventually being viewed by their coworkers or supervisors.

For this reason, you cannot assume that the survey response is accurate if run internally. Ideally, this is run through a third-party firm, and if you are working with a consulting group, be certain they are independent of technology. We have seen the results of surveys sent from system implementers or resellers, and while the data may be accurate, the results are always positioned in a way to push a particular software program.

In summary, a survey can set your digital transformation off on the right foot with data that not only helps steer decisions but shines a light into what may not have initially been so obvious.

To bounce ideas around or explore more survey topics and best practices, feel free to connect with us. We are always happy to help!

Brian Potts

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