The power of climate surveys

I am sure that even today there are still many people who wonder: Do climate and engagement surveys really work? Of course they do, but beware!

Find out more about the power of climate surveys. Learn about the importance of getting to know your team as people.

Gaspar González Jurado-Gutiérrez

Reading time: 8 min

For them to be effective, it is crucial to take them seriously and not just focus on the period immediately after the results and action plans have been delivered and then, if I’ve seen you, I don’t remember you.

This article is based on my experience with climate and engagement surveys, which has taught me that knowing how to manage them not only contributes to a more authentic engagement of your team, but also collaterally leads to the achievement of business objectives in an environment of overall well-being.

The 4 Keys to Effective Climate Surveys

Here are the four little things that I consider essential when it comes to managing an effective climate and engagement survey:

It is essential to understand that climate and engagement surveys are not one-off events, but part of an ongoing process of evaluation and action. It is necessary to maintain a long-term commitment to monitoring results and implementing corrective actions.

My career has led me to reflect on the relevance of not only collecting data, but also analysing it and reflecting on its meaning. It is essential to delve into the reasons behind the results obtained and to understand the areas of opportunity they reveal.

Furthermore, it is essential to share the results obtained with the team, dedicating the necessary time to deepen and evaluate not only the results, but also the causes and concerns behind these results, in order to reach a consensus on improvement actions.

For surveys to be effective, it is necessary to create an environment of trust in which employees feel safe to express their opinions and concerns honestly and openly. This requires empathetic and responsive leadership that encourages transparent communication.

From Theory to Practice: Proven Tidbits to Improve the Work Environment

A few years ago, I was faced with one of the biggest challenges of my career. I was assigned the responsibility of leading a team of more than 100 people spread across different cities in Spain, with an average climate and commitment index of 50%. In less than two years, we managed to raise this index from 50% to 92%, focusing on those aspects that for me are essential, which I will share throughout the article, and which, as you can see, worked effectively. It was a challenging journey, but with focus and dedication, we all managed to generate a more positive and committed working environment, and of course to collaterally achieve all our business objectives, and in some cases, even exceed them.

During that period, the final result of the survey was calculated through a weighting of ratings that answered different questions, such as: Does your leader exercise exemplary leadership, always delivering what is promised? Are you clear about your objectives and what is expected of you at work? Do you feel that your ideas are listened to and valued appropriately in your unit? Do you feel included at work? Do you feel that a healthy work-life balance is promoted in your area? Do you feel that a job well done is recognised and valued in your professional environment? Do you feel comfortable giving feedback to your leader, among others?

The importance of team engagement

Work climate and engagement surveys are fundamental tools for understanding the internal dynamics of an organisation. However, their effectiveness depends to a large extent on how the results obtained are handled and used. It is not only about collecting data, but also about implementing concrete actions to improve employee satisfaction and engagement.

In my case, the climate survey is my compass, telling me the direction we are heading as a team. It is my main management tool, providing me with information beyond the state of my team: it helps me assess whether we are making progress towards our business objectives and, above all, whether I am encouraging genuine behaviour in my team. Let me explain: there are two types of behaviour, normative and spontaneous. Normative behaviour is behaviour that is expected, such as working eight hours, otherwise there are consequences. Spontaneous behaviour, on the other hand, is behaviour that arises out of one’s own free will, out of commitment to colleagues, superiors and the tasks performed, in short, to the team. This type of behaviour reveals whether the management model I am implementing fosters a healthy working environment, where everyone feels valued and treated with respect.

Well-being and engagement: keys to business success

Employee well-being and engagement are key determinants of productivity, talent retention and company reputation. When employees feel valued, listened to and supported, they are more willing to give their best and contribute to the success of the organisation. Therefore, prioritising wellbeing and engagement is not only ethical, but also strategic from a business perspective.

In my case, I put the well-being and commitment of my team before business objectives, although I do not underestimate the importance of the latter. I firmly believe that demanding results, whether at group or individual level, can be counterproductive at times, given that there are always internal or external factors that can influence the final result. However, what I do consider fundamental and demandable is the commitment, responsibility and effort of each member of the team to achieve their best performance, especially in difficult moments. I can assure you that a team with high results in work climate surveys experiences a positive effect on business achievements in a natural and collateral way.

The importance of knowing your team as individuals

Getting to know each team member on a personal level is critical to building strong relationships and fostering an environment of trust and collaboration. This involves understanding their motivations, concerns and aspirations, and tailoring your leadership style to each employee’s individual needs. By treating employees as people and not just resources, the bond between the team and the company is strengthened, leading to greater commitment and loyalty.

In my approach to team management, I have a motto that guides my actions: I consider my teams to be made up of people, rather than professionals. Let me explain: each of us has different areas of influence in our lives: family, leisure and professional. Being professional is a condition we adopt when we work, but first and foremost we are people. My motto is simple but profound: ‘Don’t WORRY about people, WORRY about them’.

This philosophy is what I apply and pass on to the people who, together with me, coordinate teams. It is essential to know the team members as people, to treat them as such, to understand their concerns, worries and needs, and to build trust and genuine connection with them, not out of obligation, but from the heart.

I firmly believe that, if we follow this approach, positive results will come naturally. While I understand that there may be external factors that influence the results, what I can assure you is that we will have the best of each team member: commitment and accountability raised to the highest level.

Cultivating Collaboration for Continuous Improvement in Teamwork

Climate and engagement surveys provide valuable information about employees’ perceptions of various aspects of their work and work environment. By carefully analysing the results of these surveys, leaders can identify areas for improvement and develop specific strategies to address them. This direct feedback from employees allows the company to adapt and evolve proactively, creating a more satisfying and productive work environment for everyone.

In my own case, I dedicate careful study to the survey, not only at the global level, but also by team, as do my colleagues who work with me and manage teams. At Telefónica, the survey format has evolved over time. Some data comes from personal evaluations and answers general questions about the company as a whole. However, there have always been questions that directly affect the team environment, where we all have the responsibility and power to improve or maintain it – which, mind you, is more challenging to maintain than to improve.

When I say everyone, I mean every individual that makes up the team, as we all have a responsibility to implement actions that foster a stable, healthy and enjoyable work environment. While a leader must set the example and help team members clearly understand their roles and expectations, this responsibility also falls on each of us. Solidarity, collegiality, empathy and active listening skills are essential elements in creating a high-performing team, and this depends not only on the leaders, but on all team members.

Each year, I meet with my team to carefully analyse the results of the survey and make consensual decisions on how to act on them. Afterwards, I visit each centre to analyse the survey with a focus on each co-ordination. I spend as much time as necessary in this process, as I believe that sharing and discussing the survey in a trusting environment is crucial. An important factor is to agree among all of us what certain questions imply, as some questions can be interpreted in different ways. We also agreed on a common approach to rating. Because it happens that for some people a score of 7 or 8 could be considered positive (a B+), but in reality they are classified as neutral ratings that do not influence the final result. I always tell them that I prefer to receive negative feedback (in red) rather than neutral (in yellow), as it provides more valuable information. However, I also urge them that if they feel they are in the yellow zone, it is best to think green.

This commitment and dedication to the survey shows people how important it is to me. That is why I never put pressure on my team to do it, but despite this, participation rates are always above 80%. If we exclude absentees or drop-outs, we could reach 90% participation.


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