Why identifying employee motivators is key to optimizing satisfaction surveys.
Our approach to surveying company culture seems to be working! In short, we see that being able to identify what employees care about yields higher quality responses when asking them how satisfied/ engaged/ happy they are with their work environment.
Employee listening has come a long way from the days of lengthy annual surveys. “Continuous listening” in the form of shorter pulse surveys has had great success, and we’re taking it one step further. Irrespective of survey cadence, the majority of existing options only survey satisfaction, i.e. how happy are you with a particular issue. On the back of this data, what should a People leader choose to focus on? The areas with the lowest scores? This would certainly correlate with where the biggest fires are burning, but it’s not a perfect correlation. The missing piece of the puzzle is whether that issue is actually important to people or not, and this is what we’ve been able to provide.
Let’s take Compensation. Say you discover that one team is reporting a very low satisfaction score (⅕), but they don’t care much about their pay package. Compare this with another team that is reporting a relatively low score (⅖) but they are motivated a lot by compensation. Which team would you attend to first? Clearly, the second team.
The Valuebeat methodology allows you to identify this at scale - we jokingly call it workplace triage. Valuebeat starts by asking employees to carry out a points-based ranking of 12 workplace values, to discover what’s important to them. This data has a variety of applications across the talent lifecycle, one of which being the foundation of highly targeted employee satisfaction data. We define a Value Ambassador as someone who ranks a value in question as one of their top three. For any individual, their top three values are much more likely to drive their overall satisfaction at work than their bottom three values.
We have now seen, from a sample size of over 7000 survey responses, that being able to identify Value Ambassadors yields higher quality data.
Asking employees about satisfaction levels with their top 3 values yields 14% higher response rates than asking about other values. Response rates for people who are not Value Ambassadors is 62%, whereas it is 71% for those who are Value Ambassadors.
In addition, it yields more distributed responses. Value Ambassador scores are more spread across the range of 1-5, whereas non-Value-Ambassadors cluster around 4-5. This is presumably because people are more engaged with the survey and take time to think about the value at hand, if they are an ambassador of said value. If they do not care for it, they seem to be more likely to punch in an answer slightly above average and be done with it - we’ve all been there.
So what does this data suggest for how to conduct your surveys?
Targeted surveys are less likely to create survey fatigue and are more likely to give useful data. Beyond the basic concepts of only surveying when you have the capacity to take action, and not sending the same survey every week, we suggest targeting your surveys to specific groups based on their individual underlying motivators (so long as you can obtain these anonymously).
After all, you don’t need all the data, you need the right data.
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