Laying the foundations
Establish a culture of feedback and transparency: Forward-thinking organisations encourage employees to say what they think through regular feedback surveys throughout their employee lifecycle. Be quick to share the results, favourable or otherwise, for the common interest of improvement.
Get executive leaders on board: Empower managers to embrace feedback as an integral driver of enhanced employee experience and organisational improvement. Set them up with analysis tools and dashboards so they can access and understand the data readily and be able to draw up action plans for improvement.
Have the right tech: Set up a system with the right tech and tools to be able to gather and analyse feedback at every stage along your employee lifecycle. It’s important that your tech platform is scalable so that even if you start small, your program can grow with your business.
Planning your program
Set your goals: An effective employee lifecycle program is always goal driven: attracting and recruiting the best quality candidates, onboarding them quickly and efficiently, developing their capabilities, keeping them for as long as possible, and getting useful feedback when they leave. Once everyone understands that their feedback is targeted and has purpose, not measurement for measurement’s sake, you’ll get greater buy-in and accuracy.
Prioritise for the greatest impact: focus on those measurements that have the most impact, such as the greatest ROI for the business or alleviating the most troublesome pain points identified by employees. For example, where your staff retention is good, it’s unlikely you’ll need a lot of investment in exit feedback; instead, maybe focus on streamlining your recruitment processes.
How often to survey: Many employee lifecycle stages are triggered automatically by events, such as first day at work, training completion or exit. The development and retention stages are less clear-cut, so you’ll need to decide how often you want to survey your employees. Will you stick with the traditional annual employee satisfaction survey, do it every six months or offer a quarterly pulse survey? You may also wish to build in touchpoints specific to your employees; relocation or parental leave, for example.
Choosing who to survey: Will you survey all your employees? Or just a sample? If you go for a sample instead, bear in mind that you need at least 5,000 employees in your organisation for effective sampling.
Choose a start point to roll out from: employee lifecycle survey programs are substantial, and many organisations will not be ready to implement a full program immediately. You’ll need to work within your means, the feedback culture of your workplace and gauge readiness for change. A natural place to start is with onboarding, where surveys at key milestones can pinpoint any new employee issues. Get this right and it sets a positive tone for the employee’s whole journey.
Surveying at the five stages of your employee lifecycle
Recruitment: Make sure your employer brand is true to your mission, vision and values, and your organisation has a good reputation. Listening to and acting on feedback is essential to this – manage it on social media and job sites such as Glassdoor. Ask candidates for feedback, using pre-hire surveys on the job ad, and application and interview processes.
Onboarding: ‘ramp time’ is the time between hiring a new employee and the point at which they become productive. It makes sense for this to be as short as possible and training to be efficient and effective. Onboarding and training surveys will identify where new hires found the process easy or difficult.
Development: How productive an employee is, how they interact in a team and how they are promoted are all aspects of their development. Metrics such as sales figures take care of productivity; 360° surveys allow subordinates, peers, managers and the employee themselves to rate their performance.
Retention: Happy, satisfied employees are more likely to stay with the organisation, minimising staff attrition. It’s essential to run regular engagement surveys to gather employee feedback, and even more essential to act on the findings. Beware of over-surveying, leading to survey fatigue, though.
Exit: You’ll probably get your most honest feedback at the exit interview, a vital, but too often fudged, stage in employee lifecycle. Conduct exit interviews in a professional manner to demonstrate you’re still listening and caring; insights gathered here can resonate across all the lifecycle stages and provoke action.