Conducting a wide-ranging climate, satisfaction, or engagement survey can be costly in both time and money. In previous articles, I’ve argued that measuring engagement is critical for any organization, but as an OD or HR professional, you have to ensure you get maximum value from the exercise. Here are three lessons we’ve learnt at Omnicor in helping our clients realize the value of surveying their employees:

  1. Make Data Meaningful

Too often survey data is reported in endless spreadsheets and bar graphs that almost nobody can make sense of. This is then followed by the by-now-familiar death-by-PowerPoint approach where the presented throws all the numbers at the audience, hoping that something will stick.

At Omnicor, we’ve invested heavily in learning the ins and outs of proper data representation. By using graphically-driven reporting featuring infographics and heat maps, we show our clients what’s going on in their organizations in ways that anybody, not just statisticians, will understand.

The key here is to make data actionable through simplicity of representation. Overly obscure and complex data often ends up lining the 13th files of managers. Crisp, clear reporting, by contrast, allows managers to act on data and make a difference.

  1. Analyze the Data

While clear reporting is essential, don’t discount the value of doing more sophisticated analyses on your survey results. Take a careful look at how your data matches or contradicts existing data within the organization. If you’re partnering with a vendor, make sure they know how to analyze data properly (i.e. the ability to generate a pie chart does not equal data analysis.).

As an example: In a recent engagement survey we conducted, we helped our client investigate the relationship between performance ratings and certain engagement dynamics within employees. By using regression analyses, we uncovered a robust relationship between performance scores and employee’s degree of experiencing meaning in their work.

These sorts of insights are only possible through careful, scientific analysis of data.

  1. Measure more than once

Don’t be too stingy with your application of surveys. Yes, it can be hard work gathering the data, but doing just one survey can give a skewed view of your engagement landscape. Make sure that your surveys allow for longitudinal data analysis — if engagement or satisfaction change over time, you need to know about. That way, you can evaluate the effectiveness (or not) of intervention aimed at increasing employee satisfaction.

At Omnicor, we’ve built systems that specifically allow for the measuring of engagement across time, and then represent the data in such a way to make comparisons across time possible and easy.

For me, the most interesting and powerful results often come from these time-based surveys.