You are a people leader. Your earnest desire is to build and keep positive sentiment from your employees. You pored over the employee survey results six months ago to find where you can improve. You worked on those low-scoring items. Your new survey results just arrived and the scores did not change much. UGH! What went wrong?
One hypothesis is that you worked on the wrong things.  
To make a meaningful difference, people leaders need to stop trying to improve their ‘weaknesses’ (i.e. low scores). Instead, work on the Critical Few items that employees say are the most valuable.
Knowing those valuable items requires more sophisticated analysis of the data. Dr. Gary Harding and I have developed a rubric that illuminates the most valuable and critical areas to improve employee sentiment.

  • We start with the Net Promoter Score (NPS) Framework. Be sure to score your survey questions so that you can calculate NPS.  
  • We build a structured equation model using the NPS recommend question as the dependent variable, and all other questions as the independent variables. We now know the strength/value/importance of each question related to whether an employee would recommend.
  •  NPS scoring has 3 buckets: promoters, passives, and detractors. The biggest opportunity for improvement lies with the passives. We build a matrix for the questions with a high passive count AND a high statistical influence.  
  • We compare the items in the matrix against NPS promoter list and detractor list just as a gut check.
  • Our last step is to overlay the themes from employee comments.
  • The combination of NPS, statistics, and comments yields those critical few areas that will indeed improve employee sentiment.

My encouragement to HR and people leaders is to join the data analytics journey. Use the sophisticated tools that are available to make a huge difference. People Create All Value. Therefore, the work environment and experience must allow employees to flourish.
Let me address a few of the impediments / objections I have heard from HR professionals:

  • “Math is not my strength.” You do not need to be a math wizard! There are plenty of people and companies who can DO the math. You need to be the vision for results framework, analysis, and synthesis.  
  •  “That costs too much.” Sophisticated tools exist in everyday desktop applications and SaaS offerings. Most likely, you already have access to the tools…you are not using them YET.
  • “That sounds too complicated.” The alternative to analysis that actually yields the correct action items is guesswork. Using conjecture to build employee engagement action plans is a poor use of time and money. The rubric I described is not complicated to build, and after year-1 setup, is repeatable.

This article is intended to whet your appetite. If you are interested in the details, or have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn.

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