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Employee Engagement Surveys Best Practice

It’s a business risk to leave employment engagement to chance. Here’s everything you need to know about how to use employee engagement surveys for organisational success.

Employee surveys are a critical component of your employee engagement strategy. 

Without employee engagement surveys, you’ll speculate about engagement in your organisation and leave your engagement levels to chance, which is a risk to business success. 

This article will discuss why you need to use employee satisfaction surveys, which questions to include and the best practice for administering and analysing them.

Engagement describes how your employees feel and think about the organisation and how committed they are to helping the business achieve its goals. It includes the pride they feel towards their employer.

If your people are engaged and committed to the business, you’ll be likely to see higher productivity and profitability and lower absenteeism and turnover. In addition, if people aren’t engaged, your business reputation is at risk, and you may be unable to beat your competition for business growth and talent retention.

You can measure many aspects of an employee’s feelings, motivation, commitment and opinions by conducting employee engagement surveys. You may gain even more insights and honest employee feedback if employee surveys are anonymous.

In addition, you can measure all departments, teams and levels to gain an actual temperature check of engagement across the organisation rather than speculating. 

You can carry out an employee engagement survey because you perceive employees to be disengaged and want to understand why. Alternatively, a survey will highlight findings of which you had no previous knowledge.

It is good practice to conduct regular surveys to ensure they are proactive rather than reactive. That way, you should always be on top of employee trends rather than reacting only when something feels wrong.

Regular surveys also show your workforce that you care about their opinions and are prepared to act on their feedback.

First, review your engagement strategy and clarify the objectives of the survey. You can then ensure you align your surveys with organisational strategy. Senior leaders must buy into the survey at this stage because, without their commitment, results may not be reviewed.

Next, you can plan and design the survey. Although you can do this in-house, it can be time-consuming. 

Therefore, use an employee engagement survey template that uses software to collect and analyse the responses.

Communicate the survey to all employees. This is an essential step because employees need to understand why the survey is taking place, how long it’s open for, and whether it’s anonymous.

At this stage, it's crucial to build trust, so being transparent about your intentions should help gain buy-in and increase the survey response rate.

Open the survey for all staff and ensure that employees are aware of it and can access it wherever they are.

When the survey closes, the results will be analysed. Once you have the results, you can review trends and look for areas where engagement is strong, and attention is required. You can also compare against industry engagement benchmarks.

Break down the feedback by department or team and ensure that line managers see their specific team feedback. Managers play an essential role in understanding their teams’ input, acting on it, and communicating it to their teams.

Once you've analysed the data and created action plans, these should be communicated to all employees. This may be in the form of an all-staff meeting with follow-ups for those who could not attend. 

After communicating the results and following through with the action plans, you can decide how to manage future surveys. You could continue the survey as an annual event, or if you expected better results, you may wish to follow up sooner.

According to research by Gallup, when employees were asked whether their organisation takes action on survey feedback, only 8% of employees strongly agreed. 

Therefore, it's essential to ensure that action plans are carried out. Otherwise, there's a risk that employees feel disengaged because they've spent time giving their feedback. Surveys are often a starting point for many organisations to gauge engagement and they require follow-up, action and ownership from managers.

Another point to note is that employee engagement is a business concern and responsibility, not just an HR one. HR may be organising the survey design and analysis (or working with the external provider), but it is up to management teams to communicate the results and set action plans to increase engagement. Engagement action and commitment to change must be led from the top and encouraged throughout management to everyone.

Employee engagement survey questions should be clear, succinct and include appropriate response choices. For example:

  • How satisfied are you with your relationship with your line manager?
  • How likely are you to recommend your organisation to others?
  • How would you rate your career progression opportunities?
  • Do you feel valued at your organisation? (You might include a Why question).
  • How often do you receive feedback from your manager?
  • How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the physical workplace?

To gain accurate feedback, ensure that your questions avoid jargon and are unbiased rather than personal. Otherwise, the risk is that employees don't respond. Here are some examples of questions to exclude:

  • Do you think your manager gives the best work to one of your colleagues, and if so, who? (This is unfair, and the employee may feel uncomfortable naming someone).
  • YTD, how have you found your KPIs? (Contains jargon and acronyms).
  • How fair do you think your manager is? (This is a highly subjective question).
  • Do you think the hours you work impact your relationship with your partner or family? (Far too personal).

The survey response rate can be affected by numerous factors. For example, if it's the first survey, individuals may be keen to take part and have their say. However, if you've done surveys before and no actions were followed through, people may not participate again.

Response rates may also depend on how well you communicate the survey and whether employees trust the organisation. Give people enough time to complete the survey. If it's only open for a few days, the completion rate may be low, whereas if it's available for a month, then rates may increase. Survey design may also impact completion rates. If the survey is short or elementary respondents may not complete it. 

One final factor to consider is whether the survey is anonymous. In a large company, if you ask about demographics, such as age and gender, it's likely that individuals will not be identifiable. However, in a small company, individuals may worry that such information would confirm their identity, and they may feel less comfortable about giving honest answers.

Every organisation will have unique levels of employee engagement and will therefore have its own needs when implementing employee engagement surveys. Leadership plays a critical role in buying into the process and committing to acting on feedback, while everyone in the organisation plays a part in changing the engagement levels. Surveys take time to review, work on and see the change from but remain a pivotal aspect of measuring engagement.

At Momentive, our SurveyMonkey service can help you to measure employee engagement and our pricing plans are designed to fit your needs. Sign up now to measure and analyse engagement levels in your organisation.

Your employee satisfaction surveys should include various questions focusing on different aspects of working at your organisation. For example, you can add questions for specific areas of the employment cycle, such as pay and benefits and learning and development or you can focus just on areas you want to improve.  

You should aim to include a mix of open and closed questions in your employee satisfaction surveys. It’s likely most questions should be closed as the data will be easier to analyse and draw trends from. However, open questions can be helpful to get more detailed and honest information and find out things you didn’t know from the closed questions. 

Ideally, you should be looking to gain an overall response rate of 50 to 60%, as anything under 50% is quite low. As you improve and develop your surveys and survey communication over time, ideally your response rate will increase to up to 70%.

Online employee engagement surveys are more effective than traditional paper surveys as they simplify the entire process. They also provide anonymity, send reminders to those yet to complete the survey and employees can access them anywhere at any time. This should increase completion rates and make it easier to design and implement surveys and analyse results.