Employee Survey Results: Finding the Real Story in Your Data

by Energage

Meet Jack. He’s 20 and started working for your company eight months ago. It’s his first full-time job. His pay is low, but fair enough. He rents an apartment in the dingy student housing area of the city. Things don’t work all the time, but it’s what he can afford. He drives an old hand-me-down car he doubts will pass the next inspection.

Now meet Jill. She’s 43. She works for your company too, but this is not her first job. As a seasoned executive, she has a wealth of professional experience. She receives a competitive salary, and over the years her role — and compensation — have increased substantially. She owns a new home that requires little maintenance. When repairs are needed, she gets things fixed right away because she can. She leases a new car that’s under warranty.

It’s time for your annual employee engagement survey

Today, your organization launched its annual survey. Both Jack and Jill were given the opportunity to respond to the same series of survey statements. Here’s an example:

Energage Survey statement: Execution
“At this company, we do things efficiently and well.”

This is what we call the  “Execution” statement, one of the 24 items included on the standard Energage Survey. Let’s say both Jack and Jill respond to this statement with “Slightly Agree.” Looking at the employee survey results, we see the same response.

Similar survey responses don’t always tell the same story

Here is where things go wrong. Because there’s more to the story than meets the eye.

Jack and Jill are two people at very different stages of their careers. They have different salaries and live in different environments. Outside of work, Jack is surrounded by things in need of repair. But when he shows up at the office each morning, everything is in working order.

Jill expects things to be in working order. And when they’re not, she has the means to get them fixed.

They responded to the same statements. The survey responses are the same. Yet, we see two different stories. Why?

Employees have different expectations, experiences, and priorities

When you treat the survey responses from Jack and Jill as equal, you’re ignoring the context each brings with them to work. And this can lead to misguided decision making.

The survey statement, “At this company, we do things efficiently and well” is a great example. Our research and experience show that highly paid employees tend to respond more negatively to the Efficiency statement than those who are paid less.  

Let’s look at another example.

Energage Survey statement: Appreciation
“I feel genuinely appreciated at this company.”

Adam is an account executive at your company who makes approximately $100,000 each year. He’s new to the team, joining your organization only 6 months ago.

Cole is also an account executive. In fact, he and Adam are on the same team and his annual salary is similar. The biggest difference is that he’s been with your organization for 15 years.

When survey time rolls around, Adam and Cole respond to the “Appreciation” statement with “Strongly Agree.” That’s great, right? Not so fast. Once again, there’s more to the story, and it’s important to interpret these responses correctly.

While Adam answered “Strongly Agree,” his response is considered more negative than Cole’s.

While both answered “Strongly Agree,” Cole’s response is a more impressive score than Adam’s. This is because new employees tend to respond more positively to the Appreciation statement. Long-tenured employees are less likely to ‘Strongly Agree’ with the Appreciation statement, making Cole’s response cause for celebration.

The best employee surveys consider context

Energage Survey takes these nuances into consideration and we factor them into our analytics when calculating your results. And we take it a step further. Instead of making assumptions based on general trends, we determine what’s true for different groups within your specific benchmark. You benefit from a tremendous volume of insights, to quickly get to what’s meaningful — and what’s not.

The science behind Energage Survey ensures you get the best possible insights with the least possible noise. And this is what separates our survey from the rest. In fact, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office agrees — so much so that we received a patent for it.

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