Is HR focussed on what the business deems important? Conducting an HR survey of internal clients helps ensure that the HR function is connected to employees and the business. By asking the right questions, the survey can confirm the priorities of the business and HR are aligned.
A survey is relatively easy to do and should include both management and employee feedback. You’ll need the two perspectives. HR can run the survey itself (with tools such as Survey Monkey), or go through a variety of low/or no cost providers that specialize in this field. There is a plethora of boutique firms that specialize in conducting HR surveys. Many of the more experienced providers will assist with survey design and many other elements of the process. Up-to and including analysis of the data and recommendations.
Web-based surveys are easy to create. Make them brief, but touch on key areas. They allow for customization, language preferences, and report-writing capabilities. Not all employees have Internet access, so in some cases provide alternate mechanisms for survey completion, such as kiosks or even paper-based.
What are the benefits to HR of conducting a client survey?
1. HR as a Business Partner
If HR professes to be a partner with the business, conducting a survey is one method of determining if the HR function is on track or not. For instance, does HR understand the business? Is HR contributing to business success? Is HR leading necessary change for the business? Are they focussed on the right deliverables? Ask survey questions to confirm. If the survey results are positive and demonstrates alignment between client feedback and what HR is focussed on, then the positive results will concur a strong linkage of the two. If there is strong alignment then be sure to communicate that to the broad-based company when the survey results are shared back to the company. Why not highlight it!
The survey results should hopefully confirm if the priorities HR is focussed on are in alignment with management expectations. If HR truly understands the business needs, then they should be demonstrating that alignment by delivering on previously agreed to key priorities. The survey will confirm what the employees and managers find as important and whether there is alignment with HR or not. I have always felt that any time HR has an opportunity to “market” (through sharing survey results back to the organization), that it’s focus is in alignment with business goals, then take that opportunity to communicate it. Conversely if HR is off track, then HR needs to correct course and demonstrate, “We heard you”. And what HR plans to do about it.
Doing an internal survey takes courage. It’s HR wearing its heart on its sleeve. Because HR clients will not be afraid to tell you what they really think. Yet, if done properly it provides an opportunity for HR to communicate to the business what it stands for. What HR values and what they will do to ensure they walk the talk. It provides an opportunity to improve service on a go forward basis.
4. Customer Service
One of the underlying goals of the survey should always be to ensure that strong customer service is in place. Not only will the survey solicit feedback regarding strategy, alignment, and HR program effectiveness, but also on the administrative side of HR. How is the team doing on day-to-day activities? Such as; customer focus, accessibility, availability, responsiveness, confidentiality of the HR team, HR subject matter knowledge, and employee relations. Drill down on what HR needs to do to improve its overall administrative effectiveness.
Remember the old survey adage: “survey, feedback, action”. If you are asking for their feedback, you better be prepared to do something about it. You need to prioritize and follow-up on the results. Doing something about the results helps support the vision that HR is a trusted and reliable function. And it’s never a bad thing to demonstrate a willingness to change direction if required.
A survey provides an opportunity to feed the results right into the HR Scorecard, alongside other key people strategy metrics that HR should be tracking. The results for key areas measured in the survey should be included in the Scorecard and tracked for improvement over time. This provides tangible evidence to the executive team and the employee base that HR is demonstrating an understanding of the survey results and their accountability to improve them.
When the data has been analyzed, and whether it is good or bad news, HR needs to circle back to the organization with a full summary of survey results with a clear roadmap to address any issues.
Always welcome comments or questions.