The success of a company’s diversity initiatives is notoriously difficult to measure. Businesses can spend time, money, and effort on initiatives to promote diversity, but the efforts seem fruitless unless business leaders can observe measurable results. On the other hand, at times numerical results may be obvious, such as higher retention rates for diverse employees, but this does not confirm with certainty that implemented diversity initiatives were truly successful. How, then, can businesses know whether their diversity efforts are effective? The best method is to speak directly to diverse employees! Only the people who are directly affected by the initiatives can determine their effectiveness.
Since sitting down with each employee individually could be a challenge, the best way to give every employee an equal voice is through annual or bi-annual employee surveys.
Read on to learn the 3 best practices to make your company’s employee surveys inclusive!
Why Creating Employee Surveys is Beneficial for Your Organization
Employee surveys offer employees a voice. Surveys demonstrate to employees that upper management wants to hear their perspective on initiatives that they’ve enacted. And only employees – particularly diverse employees – can offer valuable feedback on whether the policies in place are actually changing their professional lives for the better. Diverse employees are more likely to remain hopeful and motivated in their workplace when they know that they’ve been given an opportunity to share their struggles in a constructive way. Surveys also empower diverse employees to take more control over their professional experience by being open, authentic, and honest in their feedback about current company diversity programs and initiatives.
Surveys pave the way for a better employee experience for both current and future diverse employees.
Best Practices to Solving the Problem
#1 Ask neutral questions that encourage honesty.
It can be easy to create survey questions that “lead” survey-takers to answer in a particular way. When creating surveys, try to voice questions in a way that allows employees to answer simply and honestly. This can be done by using uncomplicated, neutral language. For example, instead of asking, “How do you benefit from our diversity initiatives?,” you could ask, “Do you currently benefit from our diversity initiatives? Why or why not?” The first question assumes that the initiatives have been helpful; the second question invites positive or negative feedback.
Additionally, when structuring the survey, aim to only address one issue per question to minimize confusion. A question such as “Do you feel included in meetings, in interviews, and in special events?” offers too many variables. Survey-takers are not likely to break the question down into individual parts. Instead, it would be better to simplify the question: “Do you feel included in manager meetings?”
#2 Keep it anonymous.
Requiring employees to submit their name with their information can cause some problems with survey results. For instance, some employees seek (even subconsciously) to come across positively to their managers or the executive team. This might influence employees to bend the truth or answer questions more optimistically than they truly feel. Likewise, diverse employees might feel obligated to come across a certain way to the leadership team when answering questions about company diversity initiatives.
In most cases, it is preferred to distribute and collect surveys anonymously in order to receive the most accurate results.
#3 Don’t stop with data-gathering.
The problem with surveys lies with the action steps following the survey submissions. When employees take the time to fill out a survey openly and honestly, they expect that their complaints, feedback, or opinions will be heard and acted upon. However, many companies fall into the trap of only tracking the survey data. While it is helpful to have statistics to measure progress, the goal of surveys is not simply to gather numbers – it’s to make changes based upon the needs of employees. Employees who make their voices heard but never see a change often deal with frustration. In their eyes, leadership begins to seem hypocritical: they say with words that they want employee input but never take action to make employees’ lives better.
Employees will not take surveys seriously if they don’t see true change.
In order to create an inclusive and diverse workplace, it’s essential that you create opportunities with inclusive employee surveys. Regularly providing opportunities will help you retain your top diverse talent. Our guide, “Retaining Diverse Talent: Employee Surveys Guide”, will walk you through the process of how to do just that. It’s easy to do, and you can get started today! So what are you waiting for? Download our Guide today! Happy recruiting!