360 Feedback Surveys have been around workplaces for years. In fact, they are a staple of how human resource practitioners learn what drives employees to perform. However, when not managed properly they can become a hassle rather than a useful tool. So too, employees can smell 360 surveys from a mile away and may resent them because they are overly focused on employee skills and contributions – instead of addressing the important “What’s in it for me?” concern.
How can your organization best manage 360 Feedback Surveys to get value from them, and are there better ways to increase employee engagement levels? Let’s get down to some best practices, limitations, and alternatives.
Best Practices for Managing 360 Feedback Surveys
There are some best practices and methods for using 360 Feedback surveys to gather information about employee values, ideas, and factors that increase employee morale. Following these tips can lead to more meaningful use of a survey tool like this.
- Understand the intended purpose – Before you reach for a 360 Feedback survey to start sending out to random employees, you may want to stop for a moment and more closely examine the purpose of this tool. They should be focused on gathering information from a specific group of employees to identify certain areas that need improvement.
- Link surveys to performance metrics – A big mistake that far too many companies make is conducting 360 surveys right around the same time that performance reviews are taking place. Of course employees are going to be more vocal during this time, but it will mostly be out of fear or frustration over not getting an expected promotion.
- Timing the survey counts – Do not send out a survey at a random time. Instead, focus on a time when you need to get a glimpse of what’s happening before or after a challenging time in the company. For example, the survey can be most useful if conducted at the beginning of a new fiscal year, to gauge employee satisfaction following a stressful period. Another example of a prime time to run a 360 Feedback survey is after a change in leadership.
Limitations of Employee Feedback Surveys
Just as there are with any HR tool, there are some limitations with 360 Feedback Surveys. The first and most obvious is that the survey must be administered by someone over a period of weeks – this takes a serious commitment. The survey must be carefully rolled out with messaging that appeals to employees, yet firm enough to gain compliance. Then reminders must go out, over and over again until everyone gets theirs turned in. HR must also get management’s buy in so they can make sure employees participate.
By the time the entire process ends, then the real work begins – sorting out the data and generating reports. Even if a third-party administers the survey, it’s time consuming and tedious. Then there is the follow up factor. How, when, and whom is in charge of following up with employees who share concerns, have questions, or need information? How can this be handled swiftly when data is already getting cold? It can get confusing.
Alternatives to Employee Feedback One-Time Surveys
Fortunately, there are alternatives to the traditional 360 Feedback Survey, that’s easy to manage. The alternative provides a more timely and accurate picture of the organization from the standpoint of employee satisfaction. Real time employee engagement surveys, which are simple to set up and use, have become the go to way that companies stay in touch with their employees on a more personal level.
The advantages of real time engagement surveys vs. 360 surveys include:
- Faster turnaround of the report from start to finish – no more than a day to wait for responses.
- Less complex and employees are more apt to voluntarily participate because it’s one step.
- Ability to respond to employee concerns almost immediately.
- Ease in creating custom reports using the data, including monitoring changes over time.
Keep in mind that even with real-time data that employee engagement surveys measure, there is a bit of administration and a learning curve involved. It will still take effort on behalf of your central HR department to manage. But, the value and responsiveness of this is worth the effort.
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