Oh no, your survey follow up failed! Here's why.

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

Yes, there is lots of talk in the market about nifty tools to collect employee opinions, shrewd technical analysis of results and clever report outputs. Yet, when asking key stakeholders, they point out that another step in the process should receive far greater attention: The follow up on survey results. 

While companies meticulously map out the actual survey and immediate surrounding process, I'm often surprised by the lack of detail my clients exercise when it comes to planning their survey follow up. Timelines are vague or non-existent, accountability is passed around like a hot potato and staff is kept in the dark of their cubicle.

It shows: Confidence rates in the survey follow up are low, less than half of Singaporean employees feel that significant actions have been taken after their last survey. In a recent WTW study, experienced practitioners have now unveiled the most precarious roadblocks for a successful survey follow-up.

Here are the top three: 

1) Lack of management support 

Without senior buy-in, your follow up is doomed to fail. I often see HR or report owners at lower levels come up with brilliant suggestions for change - but even the most crafty and targeted action plans will not bear any fruits unless top managers endorse the efforts. 

Best practice: Remind senior managers in a short briefing of the purpose of exercise, ask for their input when designing the survey and emphasize their responsibility during the presentations of the results. 

2) Disregard staff during action planning 

True, they have given their opinions already. But keep in mind: Survey results are rarely unambiguous. The root cause of high workload could be an increased amount of tasks - but it could also be an inefficient IT system, unnecessary layers of approval or unclear responsibilities. To get to the heart of most issues, we need to ask for staff opinions even after the survey. 

Best practice: Engage employees in open discussions, focus groups, task forces, etc. Tap on their ideas and give them the feeling that they are part of the solution. Truly sophisticated organizations provide individual engagement reports to each staff member and enable them to make their own contribution to a better company culture.


3) Poor progress monitoring 

Often my clients get embarrassed when I ask them about the progress of their follow up. Months into the planning few are able to point out which actions have been taken and if progress has been made. Once the next survey comes up, many realize that the previous results have hardly been acted upon. Main reason, I believe, is a lack of rigor and tools when monitoring the follow up. 

Best practice: Establish a detailed timeline with milestones. Assign responsibilities and hold people accountable. Share best practices. Successful organizations use anintegrated action planning tool for tracking actions and monitoring of results. Perfect if the tool also includes a library of best practices to inspire managers.


Of course there are other pitfalls you want to be aware of. Among them are insufficient communication around the follow up process, unclear responsibilities and the inability of line managers to follow through on the findings. By no means are these issues impossible to fix. If you want to discuss further, share your view or learn more, leave a comment here or hit me up for a coffee. We might find the answer together - at the bottom of the cup.