Measuring employee engagement annually via a survey is a regular practice in many companies. A good thing, if you take this process seriously. This blog shares the do’s-and-don’ts when conducting a employee engagement survey in your company. Valuable reading for management, hr and anyone who leads people.
Engagement survey? A good idea!
Engaged and loyal employees are the best ambassadors for any organisation. Not surprisingly, the engagement survey is well established at numerous medium sized to large companies. There are quite a few providers on the market that make sending out an engagement questionnaire to all your employees quite easy and that provide you with insightful reports on the results.
But what is the best way to go about this? How do you get the most out of this survey?
Moving beyond HR
A staff survey creates expectations. You offer employees the opportunity to have their voices heard, express their satisfaction and commitment and share any concerns or suggestions. It is therefore logical that they expect something to be done with their input. Think about this in advance. A common pitfall is to appoint only human resources to work with the survey results. But fostering engagement is not just the work of HR. Achieving engagement is an everyday task and has more power through direct managers, with the help of HR.
Communication and customisation as accelerators
Timely and clear communication about the engagement survey with proper framing is necessary to generate impact. One e-mail, often sent centrally, calling for people to complete the survey will get less response than if the questionnaire is additionally framed and motivated by the direct manager, at a team meeting for example or through an additional messaging. It’s important to explain the context, why you are launching this survey and what you will do with the results.
“Can I share my opinion anonymously?” “What happens to my answers after the end of the previous survey?” “How will we be informed about the results?” These are just some of the questions you should answer in your accompanying communication when sending out the survey.
The results are available, now what?
The management team puts its heads together and chooses a number of targeted actions . Driven to move from result to action, they sometimes forget to give proper feedback to employees: What were the main results of the engagement survey? What did we as management learn from it? What are the results we already want to work on or the actions we have already identified?
If you want to get the most out of your employee engagement survey, go one step further and actively involve the employees themselves in working with the survey results: As a manager, enter into a dialogue about your own team’s results, ask for additional interpretation, let team members make their own suggestions or set up small working groups around certain themes.
Say what you do, and do what you say
As well as a few ‘quick fixes’ that can be implemented quickly and are easily visible to everyone, there are also issues that take more time and may be less visible. Employees are often left wondering where the survey has led, and if this is not clear to them, the desire to have their voice heard next time will diminish. Square Circle therefore stresses the importance of communication and follow-up communication. “Say what you do, and do what you say”. Link back to actions that have been taken or are in progress, and take the liberty to say where you do not plan to invest for example. Continue to involve employees wherever possible and systematically strengthen their commitment to your company.
Square Circle’s senior hr and communication experts are available to strengthen your hr, communication and leadership skills within this framework, making your next edition a success.
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Listening sessions that reduce distance and increase engagement
Square Circle deepens your employee engagement survey with listening sessions. Confidential group discussions with several employees holding different positions in preparation for or after the survey. They allow you to delve deeper into hot topics, discover drivers and throw up initial solutions. Our experience shows that listening sessions give more meaning to survey results. This leads to higher awareness among management, HR and leaders on the one hand, and to more commitment by staff on the other. A win-win!
Anyone who has ever organised a party knows Sabam as the Belgian association of authors, composers and publishers that collects copyrights for the music you play. But Sabam is so much more than an administrative collector. On the eve of its 100th anniversary – in January 2022 – new CEO Steven De Keyser presented its future: to be a solid, transparent and reliable partner for authors and users. Helping turn that vision into reality is a daily task for Head of HR Sofie Vlaeminck and her team. They enlisted the help of Square Circle to help support this transition. We asked Sofie to share her experiences with us.
Square Circle: We help companies strengthen their teams and individuals, how have we at Sabam contributed to that?
Sofie: “Sabam is in a big transformation, we have a new CEO who has implemented a different organisational structure with some big shifts for the employees, with a number of employees also moving from an expert role to a leadership role. So we have relied primarily on your support to coach those people in their leadership growth. For them, you also organised a New Leader Assimilation workshop to strengthen the connection between the leader and the team. In addition, you also coached the sales team to introduce a more commercially focused way of working and mapped out a customer journey of our customers.”
Why did you look for our help?
“The transformation is of such magnitude that we quickly felt in our small HR department that we could use some support for this. For example, we also moved to a new, smaller building where only about 100 people can work at a time. So we introduced a new, hybrid way of working In addition, we also went through a year of social negotiations on salary costs. In short, we understood very quickly that we needed support to manage that change.
“The transformation is of such magnitude that we quickly felt in our small HR department that we could use some support for this.”
How have the trajectories gone? What is the feedback from the coachees?
“Very positive. You know, a number of our managers are people who, mainly from their expertise, got the chance to take on a managerial role at some point. But they are not used to people management, Partly thanks to your coaching, we now notice change. For example, a people manager who struggled to hold difficult conversations and until recently always called on our help for this, now does so on her own. There are also managers who are somewhat insecure by nature, but after the coaching they dare to bring up certain things, whereas before this always went through us. The common thread in all trajectories is that our leaders become more autonomous, that we are much less solicited to provide support in certain matters.”
“The common thread in all trajectories is that our leaders become more autonomous, that we are much less solicited to go and support in certain matters.”
What does Square Circle’s help mean for you as an HR team?
“Until recently, HR was the typical payroll HR service. But human resources and working with people did not receive enough attention. We are now trying to make that turnaround. That means mainly focusing on people development, and making sure you create a working environment that is pleasant and in which they have every opportunity to develop themselves. And we cannot do that all by ourselves. When we feel an employee needs more support than we can offer ourselves, we call in external support. Actually, coaching is a job in itself, so why not call in expertise – which may be external – but with people who really have the experience to help someone further in concrete terms? A coach who really works with people day in day out, and who also does this in other organisations, is going to be able to offer support much more from his own experience.”
“It’s actually a specific skill, coaching, so why not call on expertise – which may be external – but with people who really have that experience to help someone concretely move forward?”
How did the collaboration with Square Circle go? Was there anything noteworthy you’d like to share?
“We always started with an intake interview. And we immediately felt – that time was taken to ask questions from different angles so that we got to the heart of the problem. What we also like is that you can offer different profiles as coaches. Depending on the problem, we can then choose a coach who is the best match. We then put you in contact with the coachee, and if that clicks, you’re off. We don’t have to stay so close to it because we know it’s going well and if there would be something, you signal it. And most importantly, we also see results in people.”
“We shouldn’t stay so close to it because we know it is going well and if there would be something, you signal it.”
Would you recommend these cooperation to HR colleagues?
“Yes definitely. The added value is that you have a very broad spectrum of areas in which you can provide guidance. And that you are reliable: the agreements that are made are really kept. You are also open and transparent, so if at any point something is not going well, or if we come up with certain questions, you take the time to solve it.”
Are you, like Sofie Vlaeminck, looking for professional support in a transition within your company or team? We give you access to more than 25 years of
practical experience in HR and Communications. Want to meet to see what we can do for you? We do this while maintaining the strictest confidentiality. Book a no-obligation mini-consultation right away or contact us via our website.
Rudy Coenen joins the team of Katrien Decroos, An Dewaele and Ludovic Goethals with a communication expertise forged by 20 years of experience in leading companies in various sectors such as banking, insurance, asset management, the public sector, training, energy and associations.
With a career marked by diversity, Rudy has been able to embrace all the finer points of the professions linked to corporate communication. He has held several positions related to communication in a broad sense, up to the final responsibility of a communication department. He puts his know-how at the service of companies wishing to engage in a constructive dialogue with all their stakeholders.
At Square Circle, Rudy will use his talents to help companies facing changes and transformations to develop engaging and human communication with a particular focus on exchange, transparency and relational aspects. He will also actively participate in the communication training programme developed by Square Circle and by himself during his career.
Rudy Coenen: “What attracted me to Square Circle, apart from the solid expertise of the partners, was the integrated approach to Human Resources and Communication issues. Starting with a situation, a project or a need related to the human factor in the company, Square Circle will develop a complete solution that will encompass the typical HR or communication aspects in a totally integrated manner in line with the client’s needs. Such an approach is much more effective than the traditional approach where HR or communication experts or consultants go their separate ways”.
Square Circle, or the house of practical expertise in management, HR and communication, has been working closely with a business world in change for 20 years. From transformation projects, strong leadership and corporate culture, to crisis prevention and crisis management; they help realise the ambitions of tomorrow’s companies, each time using an integrated and practice-oriented approach.
Over the past 20 years, Square Circle has encountered the same needs at many companies: motivating employees to move ahead and convince them to tackle change in a constructive way.
“We often see that communication is only one aspect of the issue. People Management and HR are at least as important in the continuous changes a company faces,” Katrien Decroos points out. She herself has been advising organisations on managing their communication in business developments and transformation processes for more than 25 years, together with Ludo Goethals. Since the very beginning, both have formed the basis of Square Circle.
All too often, management has the idea that communication is simply words you utter top down. That a word creates a mental image is often forgotten. “We help management to speak a language with rational as well as emotional elements, because it is precisely the latter that gets people moving. Communication starts from people’s perception and should always be close to their own context,” says Ludo Goethals.
Square Circle consciously opts for a partnership and coaching approach and strives to provide real practical assistance and relieve the company where necessary.
At the same time, it takes time to get people and consequently whole companies moving. Often, management has been working on a specific change for a long time and employees cannot be expected to be as quick on the uptake. “Daring to show that taking time is really necessary is one of our challenges,” says Katrien Decroos.
A third partner joined in 2021. An Dewaele has been making a career in the HR sector for 30 years. “With An on board, we have an even broader base to help companies with an integrated expertise, where communication and HR come together,” indicates Ludo Goethals.
Companies knock on Square Circle’s door asking for guidance, not only in the event of major changes or when a crisis occurs, but also in positive trajectories.
An Dewaele: “The best way is to participate in a company’s project as a close partner. That way, we are not the consultants that bring the theory and then leave, instead by working hand in hand, the organisation learns and evolves and can then use the gained insights themselves going forward. In the future, we want to be able to remain a true sparring partner for the CEO or management of organisations more often. We already have this relationship with certain companies, but we are sure we can expand our role in this; we feel there is a need for it. More and more, we want to be the house where you can simply come in, where we listen to the issues, and then think and work flexibly with you on the basis of our expertise in HR and in communications. There is a noticeable evolution, a need and urge for a more integrated approach, and that is exactly what we can offer with Square Circle.”
Copyright text: HR Square
Victor has to announce some changes in his department. He has spent hours preparing 58 slides to explain the objectives, the new structure and the rationale for the change. In short, Victor is very satisfied with his presentation and so is his boss. On the announcement day, his employees listened to Victor. In a deafening silence.
Silence is the primary form of resistance
In the weeks that followed Victor continued to ‘defend’ his project. Always with the same words, the same ideas, the same concepts.
Six months later, the project is still not operational. Three employees have left. There are still gaps in the structure. Nothing is going well. The morale of the troops is close to zero. And Victor is seriously thinking of leaving the company too. ‘They don’t want to change’, he told his boss. ‘They don’t want to understand’. ‘They are resisting’.
Words and numbers
The presentation’s 3,400 words, 27 tables and graphs did not convince his employees. Worse still, they sowed doubt in the minds of the employees. Because the story Victor told was about him, the management and the company. Not them. They felt excluded from the project from the start.
On the very day of the presentation, the project took a nosedive. What followed was the chronicle of a predicted failure.
Victor did not know:
- That words create mental images, produced by our brain
- That only strong mental images, which resonate within us, make us ‘move’
- because they appeal to our reason but also to the emotion we feel
- That an emotion that is well experienced by employees opens the door to trust and commitment, a requirement for any change
- That the majority of ‘managerial’ words commonly used in communication during transformations do not succeed in convincing because of their lack of content and human feeling: in short, they do not create the mental images that will have an impact.
Convincing is about making words speak
Victor signed up for a ‘convincing through communication’ training course. He wants to learn how to use the words that will create the right mental images to engage employees in change. In other words, he wants to learn how to communicate for them and not for himself. He is ready to abandon his classic managerial lexicon which does not work, because it is meaningless for most people. Starting from what his employees feel, he will focus on the ‘real’ words, the mental images that speak and that will make his team evolve.
In short, Victor will learn to convince by communicating!
He has made it his mission to succeed in the next change mission. Because he has changed employer. And he has been given a major transformation project.
If you have to communicate in your professional life, wake up the Victor in you… you’ll be surprised by the result!
Antonissen Development Group is a dynamic real estate group that selects urban locations with exceptional potential and has a preference for transforming existing properties into high-quality, modern buildings that are accessible to all.
The company wants to support its growth by standing out in the market with a dynamic vision of its activity. But that is not all. Antonissen wants to involve all its employees in this exercise, namely the development of a motivating reason for existence (the ‘mission’), an inspiring vision and strong corporate values.
At first glance, involving all staff members in such a project seems utopian. Yet the company managed to achieve this with excellent results. After two days of working in small groups, all the objectives had been achieved.
What lessons can be learned from this process?
Does it make sense to involve the staff in creating a vision? Isn’t that the job of management?
Involvement of all staff members is an undeniable asset, as experience has shown time and again. In this case, we were able to get the entire team of 30 staff to work together in one workshop. For larger organisations, we recommend going beyond the strict framework of management by organising mixed working groups that reflect the different layers of the company. Here too, the results are surprisingly rich and insightful. In the end, of course, it is always management that validates the work done.
What do you have to do to get results?
Careful preparation and continuous coaching during the workshop are essential. Each group has a pilot who is well prepared to lead the entire exercise. Square Circle takes care of the focused approach and facilitation during the sessions.
What if staff proposals are not accepted? This can demotivate the staff!
Practice has shown that the results of the group work are highly relevant and rich in strategic insights and proposals. The management was always impressed and pleased with the quality of the work.
What happens when everything is validated? The expectations are high!
Now that Mission, Vision and Values are on paper, we want to take action to really bring them to life and integrate them into our daily operations. Here, the Results Roadmap™ was used to carry out concrete actions in a decentralised but synchronised way.
All this is framed by dynamic and mobilising communication. Since there was broad participation in the creation of the vision, we see great commitment in the teams afterwards to realise the vision.
My department is changing, can such an exercise be done to refocus all employees on our goals?
We strongly recommend this. The raison d’être of a service may remain unchanged, but the vision of its activity may evolve significantly. Knowing that a vision is a set of ambitious but concrete goals to be achieved in a certain period of time, building it together is the best way to motivate employees to achieve it.