Companies run engagements surveys to discover their weak spots and gauge their employees’ interest and passion for their mission, but what happens when the very thing designed to help you increase employee engagement actually does the opposite?


In previous posts, we explored how poorly designed survey practices can undermine trust and accountability, This post will discuss employee empowerment.


Empowerment is essential for employee engagement


Placing accountability on your employees while empowering them to make decisions is a cornerstone of new-school management culture. Accountability without empowerment, however, is a dangerous game. If you hold someone accountable without empowering them, you increase their potential for frustration, and ultimately, disengagement. If you empower someone without holding them accountable, you risk a lack of effective results.


Millennials tend to be comfortable with the idea of personal accountability in the workforce and, as a result, have expectations about the levels of freedom and empowerment necessary to do their work.


Disempowering survey practices


    •  Team results are carefully cascaded top-down – Team results are often distributed down the food chain, meaning frontline employees are the last people to see them, if they see them at all. This sends the message that employees don’t truly own the data and aren’t involved in developing a stronger company.


    • Results require specific training to interpret – The models, reporting and sometimes even survey question wording are complicated and not quick to digest. This means the people who get the most out of them are the executives rather than people on the frontlines of the organization. This can be especially true in manufacturing or retail environments.


    • Employees are not expected to do anything about the results – Usually the manager of a team is responsible for inputting action plans or setting the agenda for what should be done, rather than a group team effort. This precludes buy-in from the most important individuals—those most directly impacted by proposed changes.


    • Employees are usually deferring to their manager – Often, a team isn’t formally given the chance to discuss the results without their manager present and often results in a skewed discussion of results.


Tips to empower your people


  1. Let employees have access to team-level data – Where possible, team-level reporting should include the same data a manager sees.


  1. Avoid lengthy cascading processes – Give employees access to data as soon as possible after their manager sees it. Avoid delaying this access by giving high-level executives or an HR representative prolonged time to review the data before you distribute it to your frontline employees.


  1. Host a team meeting to discuss results – Prior to discussing feedback with a manager present, set aside up to 30 minutes for the team to discuss the results without the manager in the room. Then, have them distill their thoughts on the results back to the manager when they join the meeting.


  1. Give employees access to any action planning systems – If they want to create an action plan in the meeting, let them. If there’s an employee who feels passionately about something, give them the chance to create an action plan on it.


  1. Allow as much sharing and transparency of action plans as possible – Open up the organization and let employees involve themselves in initiatives across the organization, not just from the top-down.


Every organization wants their survey action planning to be driven from the bottom up. The crucial thing to remember is that employees must be empowered to act throughout the entire process.


To watch an on-demand webinar with more tips for building successful employee engagement programs, click below!


Employee Engagement Best Practices

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