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Survey best practice: A discussion with Ball Corporation about their listening strategy

Featuring Mehmet Kocum and Cheryl Colby

Employee Engagement |Talent
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October 2021

Ball Corporation is a provider of metal packaging for beverages, foods and household products, and of aerospace and other technologies and services to commercial and governmental customers.
Meet the team

Mehmet Kocum

Mehmet is the Talent Development Director looking after key HR workstreams including performance management, succession planning and employee engagement.


Cheryl Colby

Cheryl is a Talent Development Analyst supporting employee engagement surveys.


Can you tell us a bit about your employee listening activities at Ball?

Cheryl: We have three types of surveys: global, event-based and employee lifecycle surveys. We have a core engagement team that supports this work, which includes Communications, Reporting, IT and HR Governance colleagues.

Mehmet: We look at this from an overall listening strategy perspective and our aim is to transform this into an integrated employee experience strategy to understand all the elements of the employee experience. Pulsing was new to our company and we had to educate the business about its advantages. We're now getting more requests to listen to employees about specific changes (such as return to work) and we have run more than 14 surveys in the last 12 months. We're now getting the right traction and positive feedback.

We look at this from an overall listening strategy perspective and our aim is to transform this into an integrated employee experience strategy to understand all the elements of the employee experience.”

Mehmet Kocum | Talent Development Director

Can you share more about the types of surveys you run?

Mehmet: We have 3 levels. 1- Global Surveys for globally consistent matters, which are less frequent. 2- Event based surveys, which are topic specific. For example, we ran two Covid-19 surveys, as well as another survey about returning to the office. We identify an event, we pulse, we listen, we react and then we re-pulse to see what the impact is. 3- Employee life cycle surveys.

Cheryl: Lifecycle surveys look at the overall employee lifecycle. One example is a survey we conducted to measure the impact of a newly rolled-out performance management program. We used the results to make changes which were implemented in the next performance cycle. Another example is Exit surveys, we started in a particular division where we were seeing an uptick of people leaving. We're now expanding the program globally and we're doing the same for new-hire and onboarding surveys. Global surveys allow us to get feedback on globally consistent matters (i.e. diversity and inclusion). They are less frequently used than the other two types of surveys but they can be repetitive.

What has been your biggest challenge around employee listening and how did you overcome it?

Mehmet: We are always looking for more flexibility in survey design and reporting, and for creative and more dynamic ways to bring in HRIS data and combine insights from different surveys. We are excited about the new Willis Towers Watson reporting platform and we look forward to the new capability.

We are always looking for more flexibility in survey design and reporting, and for creative and more dynamic ways to bring in HRIS data and combine insights from different surveys.”

Mehmet Kocum | Talent Development Director

What excites you the most about the future of employee listening?

Cheryl: For me, it would be ownership. I want the business to own this. It's not for our Talent COE to lead. We provide the process, but I want the business to own it, understand the data and take actions based on that.

For me, it would be ownership. I want the business to own this. It's not for our Talent COE to lead. We provide the process, but I want the business to own it, understand the data and take actions based on that.”

Cheryl Colby | Talent Development Analyst

Mehmet: For me, it's about employee listening becoming part of the culture, so we can improve ourselves. Sometimes, I feel that we spend too much time on this, but I believe we get what we invest. Back in March 2020, we ran a global survey to understand the sentiment of our people. As the world changed, we ran different local surveys because the conditions on the ground (such as vaccination rates) differed so much. In North America, we conducted a Return to Office survey and the feedback meant the business had to make some changes, which meant the process was much more aligned to the needs of employees.


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