So you’ve completed your first employee engagement survey - now what? What steps do you need to take next? How can you put your survey data to good use? And what’s the best way to discover actionable insights to improve your workplace in the future?
These are great questions - and we’ll cover them all in this blog post, and more too. Let’s get started!
What is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement is the emotional commitment an employee feels to the work they do in their job, their team’s goals, and the company's goals and values as a whole. Employee engagement isn’t just nice to have - highly-engaged employees are more productive, leave their jobs less, and inspire those around them to do great work too. But engaged employees are rarer than you might think - nearly 85% of employees worldwide are still not engaged or are actively disengaged at work, according to Gallup. How can you tell if your employees are in that large, disengaged group? That’s where the employee engagement survey comes in.
What is an Employee Engagement Survey?
An employee engagement survey is, quite simply, a survey you perform to measure the level of engaged employees at your company. Employee engagement is a complex subject, and there’s not one simple question you can ask or number you can look at to determine engagement levels accurately. However, as more and more companies recognize the importance of employee engagement on company performance and customer satisfaction, the employee engagement survey's art is becoming more of a science. You can use a tried-and-true framework like the Gallup Q12 survey, use this SHRM framework to design your own, or work with a partner like Empuls by Xoxoday that will help you create effective surveys.
Asking employees a variety of questions, like our top 20 suggestions can help you determine what is really going on under the surface for your employees. What are the factors that are driving a high (or low) engagement rate for certain departments, roles, and for your company as a whole? Your employee engagement survey will help you figure that out.
So once you run your employee engagement survey - especially if you’re doing it for the first time - what do you do next? If you’ve designed a well-crafted and thoughtful survey, you’ll have plenty of data, statistics, and potential verbatim feedback to go through. But if you think your work is now done - not yet! It’s actually just beginning. That’s because what you do with your employee engagement survey findings is actually the most important part of your survey process. But don’t worry - we’ve got your complete guide to drafting your post-survey plan of action right here. Just follow these dos and don’ts to derive actionable insights and take the right steps.
1. Do Act Transparently
Employees took time out of their busy workdays to provide thoughtful feedback on your survey - so what are you going to tell them when it’s over? If your feedback is much more negative than you thought it would be, it can be tempting to stuff the results in a drawer or server somewhere and hope everyone forgets about them. (Research shows that 20% of companies essentially do just that.) But employees aren’t going to forget that easily - and it looks like you’re hiding the results, which erodes trust and engagement. So take a deep breath and instead thank employees for taking the time to take the survey. It was an optional activity initially for the company's benefit, not them, after all. Now is the time to deliver an action plan that shows employees that taking the survey benefits them too because you’re listening to what they say and taking action on their feedback. They’ll be even more likely to take the survey next year - and that simple act of listening might raise engagement scores all on its own.
2. Don’t Lump Every Person Together
It’s a best practice from the experts at SHRM - once your survey results are in, don’t just look at the data as a whole. Even for smaller companies, employees in different roles and departments will have very different experiences at work, and their engagement scores and factors likely look very different as well. Instead, look at the overall data for any broad trends, and then keep diving into relevant groupings. This could be by department employee level organizational units and/or by demographic results. Looking at the data this way will help you better spot important trends. For example, say you look at your engagement data and find low scores in one particular department. What’s going on? Well, check the data further. Is there a generational disconnect, with younger workers feeling less happy and more frustrated? Or maybe individual contributors are pretty engaged, but the management level is not. Once you identify the gaps, you can start thinking about solutions.
3. Do Take Tangible Action
If you’re only surveying employees because you’re curious about what they think, but their thoughtful feedback responses don’t lead to any actual change, employees will realize you’re not actually interested in taking action. And then, they will stop providing real answers in upcoming surveys. Why should they share their thoughts, after all, if you’re not really listening? Instead, you should take the data you’ve just gleaned from your analysis and start deciding changes you will make as a result. These changes don’t need to be huge - it can be as simple as eliminating a process employees find frustrating or making it easier for managers to recognize employees at the moment with the right recognition tools. The important thing is to do something meaningful to show you’ve listened and you care.
According to SHRM, leaders who receive negative feedback from their teams in their employee engagement survey follow up too often react with denial and defensiveness. While feeling a bit defensive might be a natural first response, if your emotional reaction to open and honest feedback is getting in the way of actually seeing the need to make changes in your workplace, then you have a problem. Getting actionable insights from your employee engagement survey means you need to commit to accepting and acting on feedback before your HR and leadership team sends the survey out.
5. Do Communicate Proactively
You need to make real changes if you’re getting lots of negative feedback - but those changes can take time. That’s ok, as long as you’re consistently communicating with employees about what you heard them say, what changes you’re going to make, and when they should expect to see and feel those changes. Your employees know that things take time - they want to feel reassured that their feedback was heard. Having a solid communications plan for announcing and sharing survey employee engagement survey results, thanking employees for taking the time to answer, and letting them know what you’re doing with their feedback is an essential part of your post-survey plan.
6. Don’t Obsess Over One Number
While hard data is important in analyzing survey results, focusing too much on a single data point is often counterproductive. It can lead to superficial efforts to boost that single engagement element when employee engagement is much larger than any single issue. At AT&T, for example, instead of giving line managers and supervisors access to scores, executives give them trends and verbatim feedback from their most recent pulse surveys. This keeps the focus on the root causes of issues instead of targeting a single number to fixate on.
7. Do Keep Surveying Employees Regularly
While you can certainly get interesting information from running a survey once, you’ll find many more insights to be had if you consistently survey employees so you can track trends and progress over time. This might mean committing to a large annual survey or adding in targeted pulse surveys like the ones in the Xoxoday Empuls platform so you can get feedback in real-time. Whatever your preference, be sure you keep at it. While it might be challenging for your organization to take in feedback and make changes at first, you’ll reap the rewards over time.
Running your first employee engagement survey is exciting - and sometimes a little bit scary too. But with a solid action plan ready when you get those results in, you can make real changes and improve your employee engagement scores over time. That helps you build a better company and a better place to work - all by asking a few questions.
If you’re looking for a complete employee engagement solution, from designing research-backed survey questions to detailed analytics that tells you exactly what you need to do with your results, Book a Demo or Schedule a Free Trial of Xoxoday Empuls today.
At Xoxoday, we deeply understand the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and engagement drivers of people, be it an employee, supplier, contract staff, gig or consumer. We bring simplicity and continuity to a complex, everyday problem.