Employee surveys have become common practice in today’s workplace. Typically, employers use employee surveys with hopes of boosting engagement, improving retention, and increasing workplace morale and productivity.
When employers see employee surveys as opportunities to create real change at an organizational level and commit to develop and execute action plans, the results can be astounding. After all, top performing employees are one of your greatest assets. It only makes sense that their thoughts, ideas and even frustrations be taken seriously.
On the other hand, when employers choose to sit on survey results rather than take any action that promotes real change, the surveys can have the reverse effect. A recent survey of more than 3,000 HR professionals revealed that only 22 percent saw a visible improvement in employee engagement after conducting workplace surveys. The problem for these companies wasn’t that they weren’t collecting valuable data, it was what they did, or more importantly what they didn’t do, with this data.
You can avoid this risk by tasking managers to help with the development and execution of a well-defined action plan that ensures the company takes realistic and actionable steps to improve productivity, strengthen workplace morale, build teamwork, and more.
How do you do that?
Building an Effective Action Plan
Turning employee feedback into positive change in the workplace isn’t always easy. It takes time and commitment, but the results are well worth the extra effort. Positive change can bring with it enhanced comradery in the workplace, higher levels of productivity, and improved employee engagement. The good news is that as a manager, you already have all the skills you need to make this happen.
Brainstorm Ideas – The first step is to brainstorm some action plan idea. Take 5-10 minutes and write down as many action ideas as you can. Don’t worry if some of your ideas seem unrealistic. The idea is to use this time to generate as many ideas as possible.
Narrow the Selection – Once you are finished brainstorming, look over your list and select 2-3 of the best ideas. Be sure to choose ideas that are both realistic and actionable.
Create Smaller, Actionable Steps – Now, take these ideas and break them down into smaller, more actionable steps. For example, if your action plan is to “Improve Communication Between Departments,” you can break it down into three steps.
- Determine where communication is breaking down and which departments are involved.
- Build a multi-department team to recommend and develop best practices for workplace communication.
- Train your team on the new plan.
Write an Official Action Plan – These smaller steps can be used to develop your official action plan. For example, using the above scenario, you would create an action plan that details the best practice for workplace communication. Your plan should include your opportunity area, selected actions, actionable steps, plan to measure progress, date of expected positive change, and plans to celebrate both quick wins and plan completion.
Share the Plan with Supervisors – Finally, share your plan with your supervisor and your team.
Share the Action Plan With Your Team
Once you have the official action plan in place, it is time to communicate this plan to your team. Keep in mind that many people tend to resist change, and your team will be no different. Some employees may even experience anxiety at just the thought of change. How you communicate your plan with your team will make all the difference. If you want to bring your team onboard and ensure your action plan is executed seamlessly, you must communicate several key things with your team.
Why the Change Is Necessary – It is crucial that your employees understand the need for change. Use the results of the employee survey if necessary to highlight the problem this change is designed to fix.
What’s in It for the Employee – Your employees are only human, and it’s human nature to ask “What’s in it for me.” Communicate the benefits of the action plan and how the changes you are ready to implement will improve productivity and make a positive impact on the employee’s workday.
How It Will Happen (the Action Plan) – Clearly explain the new action plan to your team, and provide them with the tools and training needed to succeed. Be prepared to answer questions and let the employees know where to go for additional resources or support, if necessary.
Setting Accountability for Plan Execution
As a manager, there is no doubt that your work days can become very hectic. Even if you begin implementation of your action plan with the best of intentions, it’s easy to get caught up with your everyday work responsibilities and lose sight of plan execution. You can avoid this risk by creating an accountability plan right from the start by scheduling regular check-in meetings with all team members who have a role in executing your action plan and set milestones to track the success of the plan.
However, your team members are not the only ones who need to be held accountable. As the leader of the action plan, you need to hold yourself accountable too. Send your manager a copy of your official Action Plan and ask him or her to keep you accountable for executing the plan. Set dates to provide your manager with updates as to the progress of the plan.
In addition, ask your team to hold you accountable for your part of the plan. Be sure to create an open line of communication with your team members, so they feel comfortable coming to you with concerns or issues about the action plan.
No action plan would be complete without setting up a method for measuring results. First, you will have a better chance of selling your action plan to your supervisor and the c-suite if you can show measurable results. Secondly, your employees are more likely to stay on track with the changes if they how it is improving their workday.
You also can go a long way in keeping your team engaged with your action plan by rewarding them for a job well done. Set both short- and long-term milestones and celebrate with your employees when your company attains these milestones. This will help to energize your staff and keep the momentum going.
You have the option of using the feedback from your employee surveys to make real change in the workplace or simply sit on this data and allow your staff to become part of the 67 percent of employees that feel disengaged at work. If you want to let your team know that you’re listening and that you want to work together to build a positive and productive work culture then these best practices can help any manager take the necessary steps to put their plan into action.