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Employee engagement surveys only work when you take action. These six steps will help you make the most of your employee feedback and improve engagement.
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Smart business leaders understand that employee engagement drives growth. When your team is excited about the work they’re doing, the impact ripples throughout your organization and your customer base. This reality has led many companies to run engagement surveys, but then they struggle to know what to do with their employee engagement survey results.
Collecting data is a great first step, but if you don’t know what to do with that feedback, is it even worth your time?
Let’s be clear: employee engagement surveys are great tools. There are compelling reasons that suggest they’re the most reliable way to understand how engaged your employees are. Don’t eliminate your surveys, because creating an employee engagement strategy that’s not based on employee feedback is like flying blind. You don’t want to make assumptions on something as important as engagement.
Putting together a survey is easy. But what do you do with the results?
90% of workers say they are more likely to stay at an employer that takes and acts on feedback. That’s an overwhelming majority, and chances are your team feels the same way. No one wants to share their opinion and then see it ignored.
Taking action with your results is how you ensure your employees feel heard. Running surveys and taking action consistently over a long period should lead to marked improvement in your engagement scores.
There are six steps to making the most of your employee engagement survey results:
Employee engagement surveys should be handled like any other project.
It’s ideal to decide on a goal before running the survey, because that will inform how you approach everything else. You need to know the areas of the employee experience that you want to measure, why you want to measure them, and what an ideal outcome looks like.
Like any other project, you should also have a timeline, involve all key stakeholders, and get input from people across your company. These are the organizational parts that will help you stay on track. You can use them to set expectations in your communication with all employees. A timeline and clear expectations help create a sense of accountability and urgency for everyone involved.
Almost every employee feedback tool includes some level of insights or reporting, so you’ll probably have some graphs or heatmaps as soon as results roll in. These are a good starting point for any quantifiable questions, but you shouldn’t stop there.
Analyzing the results in depth is where the real magic happens. You want to pick out key patterns and understand the qualitative insights from your survey results.
Here are some ways you can get deeper insights out of survey results:
You probably got some general engagement metrics out of the survey, but it’s also worth assessing metrics that measure how the survey itself performed too, like the response rate and time needed to fill out the survey. These KPIs tend to give you more insights into survey design, but you might also be able to extrapolate employee engagement learnings from them. For example, if the response rate is very low, then it’s a sign that employee engagement may not be very high.
Now that you’ve done the first round of analysis, it’s time to bring in managers and senior leadership in your company. Managers should play a key role in sharing results with their team and driving any organizational changes that happen as a result of the survey.
Depending on the types of questions you included, you might also have feedback for managers that they need to act on. Treat this as an opportunity to get their input on potential actions or future projects that you may tackle to improve engagement.
Gallup found that action plans correlated with a 10% increase in engagement. They give everyone a sense of direction and purpose, they validate the importance of employee feedback, and they’re the clearest way to ensure that feedback is properly addressed.
Great action planning is essential to leveraging employee engagement survey results. You can use a variety of methods, depending on the size of your team and company.
A simple way to start is to:
You can then incorporate other tasks, such as delegating some tasks to other teams, involving employees in the brainstorming process, or running feedback rounds before finalizing the action plan.
Now that you’ve analyzed the results and have an action plan ready, you can close the feedback loop. Presenting the results and expected outcomes to all employees is the next step.
How you communicate the results is an opportunity to set a good example of the company culture you’re aiming for—ideally a culture of recognition, transparency, and accountability.
After the first iteration, it’s good to take a step back and evaluate the whole engagement survey process.
The first step is following up with managers about the initial responses from their teams:
The second step is looking at the survey itself, including the survey design, the timeline, and goals, and evaluating what worked well and what didn’t. Use these things to shape and improve your next engagement survey.
Employee engagement surveys bring the most value when they’re sent out on a regular cadence, usually several times per year. This also helps in creating accountability, because every time you send out a new survey you have a chance to report on what changed as a result of the previous survey.
Running a survey is a powerful first step towards improving employee engagement. The value you get out of surveys correlates with how much time you invest into them. Once you’ve received your employee engagement survey results, devote some time to thoroughly analyzing the feedback and determining appropriate action steps. If you prepare great questions, analyze the results, and address the feedback promptly, you’ll be well on your way to an engaged workforce.
Since engagement surveys can be time-consuming, it’s also good to supplement them with additional, low-effort tools, like short pulse surveys. These make it easy for you to understand how employees are feeling in a more real-time way.
The bottom line: Ask your employees what they need, then do your very best to deliver it to them.