Before you dive in to an employee engagement strategy, it’s important to know where you currently stand.
Are your employees motivated to go the extra mile? Are they committed to achieving your business goals? Do they understand how to represent your values? You probably have a sense of the engagement culture at your company through everyday interactions, but getting the holistic, trackable view of engagement metrics requires a well-constructed survey.
Conducting an engagement survey is the ideal way to gain this vital knowledge. In this article, you’ll discover how to avoid common pitfalls and design a survey that delivers results.
Why an Employee Engagement Survey is Important
Strengthening the engagement of your employees starts by listening to them. So whether you’re trying to measure the success of current initiatives or just getting started with a new employee engagement strategy, a survey will provide essential benefits:
- Measuring your starting point will allow you to track progress.
- You can identify organizational strengths to build upon.
- You can flag areas of weakness to concentrate on improving.
- Conducting a survey lets your employees know that you value their feedback.
Steps for creating an employee survey
Drafting a survey might appear to be a straightforward task: you think about the questions you want to ask, and you ask them. Right? Asking questions is easy, but asking the right questions in the right way to solicit meaningful responses requires a significant amount of planning, effort and skill.
Just like any business initiative, there are multiple factors to consider and the most successful approach to an employee engagement survey will be one that’s tailored to your unique organization.
The following steps will provide a guide to setting up a survey that retrieves good data and uses that data in a way that benefits your business and your people.
- Define the goals of the survey
Understanding what you want out of the survey is a crucial first step to developing a survey that gets useful results. Think about what motivated you to begin the process. Maybe you feel like your workforce needs to be more creative or to have a better focus on the customer. Maybe you want to create a more desirable culture to attract new talent.
Defining the goals of the survey will guide your decisions about its design, content and implementation. Surveys can be developed to gain insight into many crucial aspects of employee engagement such as loyalty, team dynamics, motivation, tools and resources, leadership, culture and customer orientation.
- Determine your survey method
In determining how you are going to send your survey, there are two things to keep in mind: achieving a high response rate and getting honest feedback. To ensure a high response rate, the survey should be simple to use, easily accessible, and in an appealing format. Surveys can be fun and provide an exciting opportunity for employees to voice their opinions, but if answering becomes a hassle or a huge time sink, the response rate may be too low to provide the thorough analytics you need.
The most important factor in getting honest feedback is anonymity. Make sure that employees can complete the questionnaire privately and that the responses are stored on a secure server. If you are collecting demographic information, make those questions optional and reassure respondents that no information will be shared that could be used to personally identify them.
This may be a good time to consider partnering with an outside company to create the survey and receive the results. A professional employee engagement company will be able to create appealing, high-response surveys that ensure anonymity and make employees more comfortable about answering honestly.
- Ask the right questions
Formulating the questions is both the most difficult and the most important part of creating the survey. Driven by your survey goals, your questions should be:
- Unbiased – Try to avoid asking leading questions or ones that have obvious “correct” answers that will skew the results. For example, even if a person approaches the survey intending to be completely honest, questioning their work ethic will evoke a natural feeling of defensiveness. So instead of asking, “Do you work hard every day?” try something like, “Does your team work efficiently together?” or “Does the company motivate you to do your best work?” Questions that focus on groups or organizations will be more likely to get honest, actionable responses.
- Relevant – Most people will put more effort into their responses if they can imagine the benefit of their contribution. That’s why it’s important to ask questions your employees see themselves in. These are the questions that pertain to them as individuals and the things that impact their daily routines or their work-life balance. People are more interested in answering questions that relate directly to their work environment and circumstances.
- Validated – There is no reason to start completely from scratch when developing your questionnaire. In fact, to ensure your questions actually measure what you intend to measure, you should work from a list that has already been validated through extensive research and testing. A popular place to start is the eNPS (employee Net Promoter Score): “On a scale of zero to ten, how likely is it you would recommend this company as a place to work?”
- Commit to sharing the results
Conducting an in-depth survey and then letting the results disappear into the void can be extremely damaging to engagement efforts. Sending a survey implies both results and action based on those results — otherwise it will seem like a waste of resources. If those things don’t materialize, many employees will fill in that missing information with their own assumptions. Did the survey results remain hidden because they were negative? Was the lack of follow-up action because leadership doesn’t care? Soliciting honest feedback and then sharing it openly takes a little bit of courage, but it’s worth it to promote a culture of openness and positive change.
That doesn’t mean you need to make every comment public. In fact this is another crucial step in maintaining anonymity. Keep all shared results at the group level and avoid sharing any data that could single out an employee.
Using the Results of the Employee Engagement Survey
At the conclusion of the survey, it’s time to dive into the analytics that will guide your engagement actions. Gather the results and measure them against what you want to achieve in terms of engagement and business goals. You may find that your organization has surprising strength in certain areas, and likewise that there are areas where you didn’t even realize improvement was needed.
What the responses mean for the future of employee engagement at your company will be largely unique to you — but there are some helpful guidelines that apply to most organizations regardless of size or industry.
According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, you will find that employees fall into one of three engagement levels:
- Engaged – These employees are involved in and enthusiastic about their work.
- Not Engaged – These employees may be satisfied but are not emotionally connected to their workplaces and are less likely to put in discretionary effort.
- Actively Disengaged – These employees are emotionally disconnected from their work and workplace and can jeopardize the performance of others.
It is most effective and efficient to concentrate your efforts on the top two groups. Employees in the “Not Engaged” category have a lot of potential to move up, they may just need a little extra guidance and motivation. Encourage those in the “Engaged” category — your built-in engagement leaders — to help them get there.
Starting an Employee Engagement Program
By following these best practices, you can develop an employee engagement survey that provides a framework for reaching your engagement and business goals.
The effect can be even greater when you work with the right partner! The employee engagement specialists at GO2 Partners can help draft an effective survey, collect responses and analyze results. Then we’ll work with you to develop and implement a plan of action for both short term results and long-term success.