Employee Engagement

A manager's guide to an effective employee engagement survey

Employee engagementEmployee engagement has an indirect impact on organisational profitability.

By increasing the levels of employee engagement, organisations can increase factors such as commitment, level of focus, safety and productivity. They are also able to lower employee churn and therefore increase profitability.

Organisations with highly engaged employees experience 26% higher revenue and 13% greater shareholder returns compared to organisations with a disengaged workforce.

Research indicates that organisations with engaged employees operate well above average industry revenue growth rates. This is because organisations with engaged employees have a stronger employer value proposition that helps them to attract top talent through their recruitment practices.

Employee engagement is a continuous journey and therefore it is important to be proactive in measuring employee engagement levels within your organisation. One of the best ways to do so is by conducting an effective employee engagement survey.

Employee engagement surveys are often quite challenging to conduct as there are numerous barriers to overcome such as employee mistrust, low participation rates and less-than-honest feedback.

Here are a few steps that can be taken to set-up an effective employee engagement survey:


1. Identify key objectives and define the desired outcomes for the survey:

From the outset, it is important to determine what you are looking to learn from your employee engagement survey.

The objectives of the survey will determine which questions are given preference and will frame the scope of the survey.


2. Set your budget:

Your budget will vary depending on whether you conduct a formal versus an informal survey. Determine whether the survey will be conducted in-house or whether it may be more beneficial to outsource to a professional survey provider.


3. Determine the survey methodology:

The methodology that is used to conduct the survey will be determined by your primary survey objectives.

Survey methodologies can generally be divided either by instrumentation and  time or using a combination of the two:


  • Questionnaire surveys - Most questionnaire surveys have predetermined answers which make their results easy to gather and compile for statistical purposes.
  • Interview surveys - Interviews are more qualitative and are most often done face-to-face. The advantage of this is that the interviewer can ask more probing questions to gain clarity on answers previously given.


  • Cross-sectional - This is a type of survey that is able to analyse data from a population, or a representative subset, at a specific point in time.  
  • Longitudinal - This is a type of survey that involves repeatedly looking at the same variable (in our case, employee engagement) over various time intervals.

4. Script your survey:

Determine the ideal mix between qualitative questions, such as asking for opinions, and quantitative questions, for example, asking for a rating from 1-10 on a specific topic. Scaled questions are also effective for comparison and statistical purposes.

Avoid ambiguous questions when compiling your survey. This ensures that everyone understands what’s been asked of them; and could positively influence response rates.


5. Launch your survey:

Launch your employee engagement survey with an awareness email, stating the intent of the survey, the duration and the proposed action steps to be taken after survey results are in.


6. Analyse survey results, produce a report and share findings with employees:

The duration of a survey should allow for sufficient time for maximum employee participation. It should also accommodate time to gather actionable insights, but also be swift enough to allow for remedial actions. effective employee engagement survey

Survey results analysis should always be consistent i.e. done in the same manner to avoid the risk of skewing results from survey to survey.

All the insights from the survey should now be gathered into one concise report and the results shared with all employees.

A good report:

  • must be well written as to ensure that all important survey findings are addressed.
  • must be brief and cover the initial objectives and outcomes.
  • must be error-free and accurate.
  • must map out the next steps


7. Determine your next steps:

Map out a plan of action to employees that details the next steps and addresses the results of the employee engagement survey.

It is important that the action plan that has been mapped out is the correct method to deal with and resolve the findings of your employee engagement survey.

The only thing that would be more detrimental than not taking any action would be taking the incorrect action. This is also why it is important to involve employees in the feedback loop as they might know the exact resolution actions that you need to take.  


An effective employee engagement survey as a form of strategic input:

Surveys provide a snapshot of current employee engagement levels. In conducting an effective employee engagement survey you will primarily be concerned with three aspects:

  1. The current employee engagement levels (the present).
  2. The desired employee engagement levels (the future).
  3. The gap between the current situation and the desired situation (how to get there).

The first survey that you perform has significant bearing in that it shows where the current employee engagement levels of the organisation are and will help you determine what actions need to be taken to reach the ideal situation.

During the journey to improving the organisation’s employee engagement levels, you will need to assess whether you are on the right path, and that is where the pulse survey is effective.

Pulse surveys are intentionally designed to not contain any complex questions and can be done at more frequent intervals; think weekly or fortnightly. They offer quick insight or “pulses” into your employees’ engagement levels.

The rise in popularity of the pulse survey is due to its many benefits which amongst other things include:

  • Measuring employee engagement and satisfaction in real time.
  • Encouraging employees to focus on topical subjects.
  • The level of ease to determine and identify trends.
  • A reduction in survey completion time and higher response rates.

Pulse surveys can be used to determine whether the actions being taken in the short term are contributing to the desired long-term outcome. It is also effective due to their short feedback cycles which allow for corrective action to be taken quickly.   


Key Takeaways:

Highly productive organisations conduct employee engagement surveys at frequent intervals. This frequency enables them strategic opportunities to gauge where engagement levels currently are and to determine what steps need to be taken to re-engage employees.

An effective employee engagement survey can assist in establishing a feedback channel that gives employees a way to communicate with management and act as a way to overcome asymmetrical organisational gaps.

An interest in the engagement levels and involvement of employees helps organisations to cultivate a strong work culture.

Surveys are effective in providing feedback but only on condition that the organisation commits to assessing and transparently actioning the feedback received.

A lack of corrective action on the insights gleaned from surveys could result in employees believing their opinions aren’t valued. And this could lead to some of your best employees leaving. Ensure you give timeous, honest feedback after conducting a survey - it is a critical component in assuring your workforce that you value their opinions.

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