Linkage Analysis: Get More Out of Your Employee Survey

Want your employee survey data to have an even larger impact?

Linkage research ties employee opinions directly to specific business metrics, such as sales goals, customer satisfaction, or employee retention. For organizations that survey employees, linkage research provides a valuable opportunity to create meaningful connections and learn which improvement efforts are most likely to create real, positive change. Linkage research can illuminate strategic choices, inform decision making, and highlight challenges or areas of risk. In many cases, linkage research can identify the survey items in which employee opinions or observations can predict success, risk, or other operational outcomes.

One of the common misconceptions in the survey world is that simply ensuring your employees are engaged will lead to higher levels of productivity, and ultimately organizational success. Employees can be engaged in their work, but by itself, that doesn’t always mean that the organization is running effectively. Take a farmer bringing wares to the market; if he or she drives a sports car instead of a truck, there won't be a lot of food to sell. Employees can dedicate all the effort in the world, but must work effectively, and on the right things, in order to drive success.

At OrgVitality, we recommend our clients use strategic surveys, tied to the critical aspects of the business, rather than simply measuring engagement. Incorporating linkage research into your survey efforts can help focus your efforts on your strategic goals, opportunities, or challenges, and allow an organization to go beyond engagement.

For linkage analysis, you need to collect robust business metrics that match the organizational structure. When these business metrics are aligned with strategy, the results are illuminating. For example, if an organization’s strategy is focused on top line sales growth, the appropriate metrics are sales figures.

Among the most common linkage analysis we do involves connecting customer data (whether surveys or operational metrics) or employee retention with employee opinions, but we also use a variety of other measurable business metrics such as audits, mystery shopper reviews, or financial metrics.

Here’s one example of a successful linkage analysis: The long-term goal for one financial services client involved driving service and profits; the short-term goal was to inspire leadership at all levels to focus on “softer” metrics such as surveys. Ultimately, the linkage “story” was framed in terms of the client’s strategy. The employee survey we designed embedded a Customer Index, which included the employee opinions most related to customer satisfaction and loyalty. Beyond energizing the traditional survey follow-up, many quality and service programs were initiated across multiple business units as a result.

Other organizations have used linkage research to drive impact in other ways:

· A call center identifying the questions most related to customer satisfaction in order to craft an impactful, short survey to repeat quarterly.

· A law enforcement agency identifying the questions in which opinions predict safety risk areas.

· A financial services organization identifying which questions characterize the top performing teams in order to drive the development of new relationship management teams.

· A tech organization identifying which items most identify employees likely to turn over in the following months.

Ultimately, linkage analysis is a powerful tool that helps organizations use their data in targeted, impactful ways. But as will all organizational development work, the key is start with an understanding of the strategy, and determine what makes the most sense for the organization’s unique position.

Want to learn how OrgVitality can help you with linkage analysis? Contact us to speak with one of our executive partners.

And while you're here, register for our upcoming webinar, "The Three Types of Individuals Every Organization Needs," on July 24th at 12:30 PM EST. Join OV partners Jeffrey Saltzman, Scott Brooks, and Victoria Hendrickson as they explain why a successful organization needs Executors, Explorers, and Boundary Spanners - and how to ensure you have the right mix. Register today.

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