The two words you must say after every engagement survey (and why)

We're all taught from a young age to say "thank you." So why don't HRDs say this when staff complete engagement surveys?

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May 17, 2023

It’s kind of obvious (to me anyway), that as soon as any engagement survey is completed, its results need sharing immediately with the rest of the workforce, with staff having no doubts about what the current engagements strategy is going forward.

It’s especially important that every employee gets to drill-down and be able to see the survey results for their own department or workgroup.

Plus, this data shouldn’t be shared solely via a memo. Managers need to discuss the results directly with their team.

Lack of sharing means lack of caring

But the points I make above are all things I wish I didn’t have to say.

Shockingly, it’s still the case that few companies are managers sharing their survey results with employees.

A recent Leadership IQ report on employee engagement surveys finds that only 29% of companies say that all of their managers share the area results with their employees.

Just as bad is the finding that 30% say that only a few managers share the results, but far worse than all of this is the revelation that 20% of companies say that none of their managers share the area results with their employees. Only 21% say that most of their managers share the area results with their employees.

This really is poor form.

When you survey your employees, you’re essentially making a promise to fix the issues measured in the survey.

If you survey employees about whether they’re getting enough feedback or appreciation from their manager, you’re de facto promising that you will fix those issues.

If you survey employees about whether they think the company holds people accountable, you’re tacitly promising that you will fix that issue.

So if you survey employees and fail to share the results, you’re essentially telling people that you have no intention of solving anything.

Two words mean a lot

Assuming that you are committed to sharing the survey results however, there’s still one more thing you have to do: Say: “thank you.”

Literally, say the words thank you.

It doesn’t matter if all your employees gave you a one out of seven on every survey question; you still have to say thank you.

You can say, “Thank you for taking the survey,” “Thank you for sharing your insights,” or “Thank you for telling us what we really need to work on,” but the key here is not to escape showing some form of appreciation.

Recognize that employees shared their views

The simple fact is that employees took the time and effort to share their thoughts.

They had the courage to be honest.

They displayed faith in their leaders to do the right thing with the data.

For all of those reasons and more, the very first words out of the mouths of every executive and manager need to be “thank you.”

If there’s even a hint of defensiveness from leaders, you’ll seriously undermine your efforts to engage employees.

In the study, The Risks Of Ignoring Employee Feedback, we discovered that only 23% of people say that when they share their work problems with their leader, they always respond constructively. But if someone says their leader always responds constructively, that employee is about 12 times more likely to recommend the company as a great employer.

There’s always a reason to say thank you

No matter how low your scores are, there’s always a reason to thank your employees for taking the survey and sharing their thoughts.

Far too many leaders think that sharing their low scores will make employees even more disengaged.

Ironically, that’s exactly the wrong way to think about this.

When employees give low scores on a survey, they’re implicitly testing their leaders.

Will leaders ignore, dismiss, or hide these scores?

Or will leaders express gratitude, accountability, and a willingness to improve?

Leaders can drastically improve employee engagement, no matter how low the scores on an employee survey.

As long as leaders are willing to share the results and thank their employees for being so candid, even the most disengaged workforces can be transformed.