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Engagement Planning – Setting Up Your Data

As mentioned in our Engagement Planning Guide, setting up your data is the first of the five key steps to getting the best return on investment for your survey efforts.

Arranging your data whilst maintaining a confidential survey process for your workforce is crucial to success: you wouldn’t run a marathon without preparing properly (you’d be crazy to do so!), and it’s much the same with your engagement survey.

It also provides a great opportunity to create some buy-in to the survey from across the company; depending on your size, you may need to include managers and department heads to confirm which employees fall under which demographics, and involving the right contacts not only guarantees the validity of the data you’ll get back from the survey, it also creates a sense of accountability and focus from key stakeholders in your organisation.

If you’re new to this process, it may feel like there’s loads of information to capture. However finding the right information is getting easier as time goes by, and the benefits of ensuring your setup is accurate far outweigh the time spent here.

The key thing to remember when setting your data up is making it relevant to you; the more you customise your data, the more detail you’ll have to work with. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the key aspects that many engagement survey providers look at, and that we at Best Companies emphasise.

Anonymity Measures – Are your groups the right size?

In our Survey Communications Guide, we discussed anonymity being key to ensuring a great response rate and giving you valuable a data. However when setting up your data, anonymity plays another role.

If you report on very small groups of employees, there is potential to cross-reference this data with other demographic groups, and identify how a specific individual has responded. Anonymity measures are there to make sure this can’t happen.

At Best Companies, we are unable to provide data back on a group of individuals with fewer than five respondents, regardless of how they are grouped.

Let’s look at an example. In the diagram, we can see an overall Operations division that breaks down into four teams. Provided that at least five people from each team responds, Innovation, Marketing and Finance will all have data available for you to view.

However, the IT team is only made up of four people and therefore won’t be a group that we can report back on. Why not incorporate them into another team? Well, the IT team’s data will still be used to make up the overall data for Operations, and not including them in the other three teams ensures that there is an accurate reading for the engagement levels of each of those groups.

If you are working with Best Companies we will consult on the most appropriate way to break down your structure whilst keeping accurate. Irrespective of who you survey with, it is important to bear this in mind when compiling your structure.

Defining Leadership

Most engagement surveys make reference to the ‘Leadership’ of the organisation; our surveys have statements that your employees respond to about ‘the Leader’ and ‘Senior Management’ of the organisation.

Because of this, it is important to highlight who you want these descriptions to refer to. For example, ‘Senior Management’ might refer to your Board of Directors, Leadership Team or Executive Board. It is essential that you establish what these terms refer to. When the survey is launched, this clarity will ensure your employees know who they are being asked about.

Demographic Groups

Grouping employees demographically offers valuable insight into your engagement levels, and provides another way to view different populations and find areas for improvement.

At Best Companies, we recommend gathering a variety of demographics including salary banding, time at the organisation, and gender to give you different engagement views. Two demographics that we give special consideration to are job roles and job grades.

Job Roles and Job Grades

Job roles and grades are one of the first things we at Best Companies consider during survey setup, and are an important demographic group to capture to understand your engagement levels.

When considering job roles, it is important to understand that this should reflect the job an employee actually does on a day-to-day basis. Our setup at Best Companies has a variety of standard job roles, such as Accounts & Finance and Sales & Marketing. This is by no means exhaustive, and we encourage organisations to customise these where available.

Job grades refer to the responsibility hierarchy of your organisation. This doesn’t necessarily consider whether an individual manages others, but focuses on their influence, decision-making capability and responsibilities. Typically, we recommend the grades shown here as a basis from which to work and that there are fewer employees in each job grade as you go down the list, though again this should be customised where appropriate.

Employment Groups

It can be tempting to follow your organisation structure when creating your employment groups. However, there are tweaks we suggest that eke out more insight into engagement levels across your organisation.

As we mentioned earlier, including department heads and managers when going through your data setup creates accountability and buy-in to the process, however when it comes to employment groups there is additional importance in doing this. If a group’s structure isn’t correct, it will create frustration for managers who won’t be able to share accurate data about their teams, and lead to them and the company disengaging from the process.

In addition to including managers in your setup verification, we suggest focusing on how managers are placed within your structure. A manager’s engagement experience can be very different to that of the team they manage, and we therefore recommend that managers should sit within a clearly-defined group at each level of the company.

The following example shows just how different results can be when managers are included and excluded from other employment groups:

When managers are placed into their own group, results across the remaining teams are significantly lower. This example indicates that managers are more engaged across the board, and that those who are not managers would be a key demographic to focus on when trying to make improvements.

Is there anything else to consider?

We recommend running a confidence check on your setup, be it an internal survey or one provided by a partner such as Best Companies. Going through the data setup with a colleague who has a strategic understanding in particular is beneficial as they may have insight that isn’t common knowledge; this typically involves confirming information that at first glance might seem odd, such as a Team Member earning more than a Director. If you are working with Best Companies, we will run a report on your setup to ensure nothing is duplicated or missing, and that your employees align with your demographics.

Now your data is arranged, the next step is concentrating on generating the highest response rate possible. We will go into detail on this in our next article, so be sure to keep an eye out for it!

Oliver Stokes
by Oliver Stokes
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