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How Generative AI Is Transforming Engagement Surveys


How Generative AI Is Transforming Engagement Surveys

One area where generative AI (GenAI) has moved beyond its considerable hype to having real impact on the daily work of HR professionals is in the use of engagement surveys. Monthly pulse surveys, life - cycle surveys, and annual engagement questionnaires take considerable time and expertise to create and analyze.

But HR leaders are now using GenAI tools to help their teams design effective employee surveys quickly; analyze responses to open - ended questions faster and more accurately; and better protect employee confidentiality, thereby increasing survey response rates.

Changing Analysis of Survey Feedback

By using complex neural networks, natural language processing, and data filtering tools, GenAI can analyze and categorize survey feedback - including unstructured data like written responses to open - ended questions - faster and more accurately than many human analysts.

Quantum Workplace, an engagement survey vendor based in Omaha, Neb., recently introduced a tool powered by GenAI to help accelerate and enhance the analysis of written comments on surveys.

The tool, called Smart Summary, summarizes and synthesizes survey comments.

"Written comments from employees can help provide context and highlight differences across various employee segments," said Chelsea Boryca, director of product marketing for Quantum Workplace. "The Smart Summary tool can make it more efficient for managers to summarize and analyze comments from thousands of employees."

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The tool can be used with specific survey questions or with a filtered demographic group, Boryca said, and can be particularly useful to HR leaders when reporting survey findings to the C - suite. For example, leaders may ask an HR manager about how a specific employee segment is feeling about returning to the office.

"The HR leader could use the tool to easily go in and generate a summary of feedback from those identified groups so top executives can better understand how they're feeling in those areas," Boryca said.

The new tool is part of Quantum's Narrative Insights product, which also gives HR leaders the ability to reach out to employees who leave written survey comments to gain a deeper understanding of their concerns—while still maintaining the commenter's confidentiality.

"It allows HR to follow up on a comment to gather more information without ever knowing who that individual is," Boryca said. "That allows the employee to really feel heard, while also enabling HR to fill in any gaps in the information the employee provided."

The survey vendor Qualtrics also employs GenAI to identify trends and common themes in survey responses, including analyzing how different segments of the workforce respond to questions. A feature called "comment summaries" helps leaders understand the most impactful themes from open - text comments while preserving the anonymity of those comments, said Neal Quinn, a product management leader with Qualtrics.

GenAI also can recommend next - step actions for managers based on survey findings. Experts say that's critical because one of the biggest complaints employees have with engagement surveys is they don't see tangible evidence of leaders acting on their recommendations.

A June survey by Gartner of 3,500 employees found that workers say one of the main issues that affects their engagement levels is what happens after they provide survey feedback. Just a third of respondents to the Gartner survey had confidence their company would act at all.

Value of Anonymizing Written Feedback

One long - standing challenge for HR in addressing responses to open - ended survey questions is ensuring the confidentiality of those writing the responses. Employees often have recognizable writing styles that can cause them to shy away from leaving candid comments on surveys - even though those responses can be invaluable in giving leaders a deeper understanding of emerging issues or identifying details that other survey questions can't reveal.

GenAI can help ensure the privacy of respondents while still communicating intent. Qualtrics is among the survey vendors using the technology to refashion written survey responses so they don't easily identify the writer.

"Generative AI can transform that written feedback into 'standardized summarizations' to maintain or even enhance the anonymity for the individual while ensuring their sentiment and feedback is accurately communicated," Quinn said.

Using GenAI to Speed Survey Design

Another way HR is reaping benefits from GenAI is in designing engagement surveys. The company SurveyMonkey, for example, recently unveiled a new generative AI tool designed to help users create surveys in as little as 30 seconds, according to an article in Fast Company. The technology automatically creates surveys based on prompts provided by HR users and builds on capabilities available in SurveyMonkey's existing tools.

HR technology analysts say that GenAI not only can help create surveys faster, but it also can build more effective surveys by analyzing prior survey data for important trends and themes and help to personalize questions based on respondent locations or demographics.

Benefits for Survey Administrators, Analysts

GenAI also is bringing new efficiencies to how HR administrators distribute and manage engagement surveys.

Qualtrics, for example, has added new automated features to its platform for that purpose. "One such tool helps administrators design more effective listening programs with assisted - survey design and distribution options," Quinn said.

Another AI - driven tool from Qualtrics is designed to expand the capabilities of human analysts. "It allows them to spend less time testing correlations in the data and more time seeing the trends and finding powerful predictive insights," Quinn said.

Dave Zielinski is principal of Skiwood Communications, a business writing and editing company in Minneapolis.

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