“As a participation body, you are there for your constituency. You want to find out how everyone thinks about certain topics. With other tools, you only speak to a small group. Dialogue offers insights into what really matters to our entire constituency.” Shuwei Loo is a member of the works council within the municipality of Breda, which employs some 3,000 employees. He is happy to share his experiences with CircleLytics’ dialogue.
Shuwei Loo: “We have been using the dialogue for several years. The fact that the anonymous dialogue consists of a round of questions (input) and in the second round (validation) participants rate the answers of their colleagues from the first round, adds value to the overall conclusion. Employees do receive an extensive employee satisfaction survey from HR and management, but we experience survey fatigue among employees. Moreover, such a survey is a single snapshot in the year, whereas we can use dialogue more often and over days to one or maximum two weeks really get people thinking.
In our first dialogue, we asked one question; what do you think is important as colleagues? Please explain your answer. This revealed as number one of the top five most valued answers, that good internal communication was lacking with reasons why. We shared our findings and conclusions with the municipal secretary, and they took concrete action on this.
We previously picked up through dialogues that employees find it important to express their opinions on topics that are in play within the organization. Participation in dialogues obviously varies by topic, and overall we are very satisfied with the percentage of employees participating. Throughout the year and measured over several dialogues, you do reach everyone.
We keep the number of questions limited in the dialogue by asking only 2-3 questions. I think this is also the strength of the dialogue; it keeps it a small-time investment for employees to participate. From the requestor side, it is a convenient tool to use because the number of participants makes no difference to the analysis. The system automatically reveals a top 5 of most and least appreciated answers. That saves us filtering and minimizes the subjectivity of interpretation of the answers.
Second round makes a difference
We do notice that second-round participation is regularly higher than first-round participation. It’s nice to see that this second round therefore makes a big difference compared to a regular survey consisting of only one round. Apparently, it still triggers employees who did not participate before to now appreciate the answers given by colleagues from the first round. We keep emphasizing that second round as an added value, also in our communication with employees beforehand.
We post the announcement of a new dialogue on our intranet, use the available news tickers and, of course, employees also receive the newsletter. We will also again use break times to inform people collectively about an upcoming dialogue. Moreover, we will continue our efforts to involve even more people in the dialogue and offer solutions for participation to people who are digitally literate, for example.
The ball is in our court
With the dialogue, we – as a participation body – have an instrument at our disposal in which we are leading. Of course, we coordinate the topics and questions in advance with various stakeholders within the municipality, but the initiative, implementation and analysis of the conclusions and findings comes from us. We find that the results from the dialogue that are black and white on paper are hard to ignore. The dialogue certainly carries weight during these discussions.
Several dialogues annually
Dialogues can be used more often. In our case, we want to carefully attune both the content and the concrete questions we ask in the dialogue with several stakeholders within the organization. That does take some preparation time. We also always test the questions with CircleLytics and we are very satisfied with their advice in this. We use the dialogue about four times a year for topics ranging from the policy for personnel activities, major reorganizations to how do you experience workload within the organization?
A tailor-made conclusion
In the dialogue on workload, we asked two open questions in addition to age category and department, namely: How high has your workload been in recent weeks? Zoom in on a period and explain your answer. This is how we wanted to avoid cliché answers and really find out whether there was something going on in terms of workload. Moreover, if employees give examples, it gives more context to the data we obtain from the dialogue. The second question was: How do you currently assess how you dealt with the workload over the last few weeks?
Overall, our conclusion was that although there is a high workload, employees cope well with it, and it is not perceived as negative. Because we asked about the employee’s department, we saw deviations by departments. This allowed us to zoom in and question them further based on the concrete explanations they gave. We then discussed these findings and conclusions with the HR department, which was able to take targeted action. These conclusions were also shared with the employees.
We share all findings and conclusions from our dialogues with the WOR director, HR and at the same time with our employees. We think it’s important to be transparent and communicate well with our constituencies. As an employee participation body, we owe that to them.”