What a difference a year makes… It is 12 months since ‘Lockdown 1’ began. What has followed since has forced enormous changes for huge numbers of workers and businesses. Of course, many restrictions and practices will remain in place in the ‘new normal’ but Spring, the vaccine rollout and the Government’s roadmap are all bringing optimism. So, what next for businesses?With so much change, there is an opportunity or perhaps even an obligation now for organisations take stock. To reset before rolling out their own roadmaps for their people and business. This should start with a diagnosis; from engaging with your people before taking any action…

Who, what, when, how?

There is so much being said and written about how work is changing, what new skills are needed, and who should be the priority for development support. We ourselves have also speculated on some of these things based on what we are hearing from our clients and network.However, the truth is that this may look markedly different from one organisation to the next – the specific skills shortages, the development priorities, current engagement levels and the broader employee experience. And there’s no way to be clear on exactly where you need to focus without speaking with and seeking the views of your people.

Diagnosis: survey?

What’s needed first then is a clear diagnosis. You need to get on the same page – to be clear on exactly how your people feel and understand pain points and things that have come up or changed for them over the last year.By taking a data-led approach and pinpointing the key root issues or challenge areas, you’ll get a clear prescription for action to address these things. To do this, running a ‘deep dive’ employee engagement survey remains arguably the most effective tool.

But not just any employee survey…

The real and lasting value with an employee survey strategy comes from understanding and acting upon the data that comes from it. Naturally then, getting the design right and ensuring total alignment to business strategy and goals is imperative. After all,

“There are no right answers to the wrong questions.”

We are, and always have been, hugely sceptical of the value provided by generic, fixed employee survey questionnaires. Some established employee survey providers have run such exercises for tens of thousands of organisations. And, I dare say, not a whole lot changed in those organisations. It’s perhaps a reason why engagement globally has remained stagnant. As Engage For Success tell us, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to employee engagement.

Getting under the skin of your organisation

Now, I don’t mean this in an annoying way. Our team is lovely, honest! But we are also driven to get a deep understanding of every organisation we partner with, to inform what their questionnaire design should look like. To measure what matters most for your business and people. We do this by:

  • Spending time conducting interviews with senior leaders, ideally including the CEO
  • Speaking with other key stakeholder groups to better understand the current context
  • Reviewing at length what has gone before and other elements of your people strategy.

This process gives us the basis to then create a bespoke questionnaire featuring engagement and whichever other indices are most needed (we typically advocate using our EX3 model – more on that in this video). What this all adds up to is a survey programme that is guaranteed to generate actionable insights that are completely aligned with your business priorities.

Data deep dive

The next thing is to analyse and interpret. One stick often used to bash large-scale surveys is how long they are and how much data they can generate. And it’s true that you don’t want them over-long, and yes, there is invariably a lot of data to sift through.How we help our clients at this stage is by running different analyses on their survey data, and by circling back to what we know of their context, strategy in goals. In doing so, we see it as our job to help separate the ‘signal’ – the key area or areas to address – from the noise (everything else). This is what development roadmaps are made of…

Setting out your own people roadmap

The point I’m making is that now, perhaps more than ever, it pays to look before you leap. Stuff like leadership development, team effectiveness training and behavioural values framework design often doesn’t come cheap, So, surely you want to know you are investing in the right things, the things that are crucial to providing the very best employee experience, and are pivotal to achieving your business strategy. Right?By running a comprehensive diagnostic exercise (like an employee engagement survey) first, you can plan with that confidence. It provides a solid foundation from which to launch your people roadmap and to move your organisation forward.