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People Management

What to Do With Your Employee Engagement Survey Results (6-Step Process)

July 13, 2022
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7 minutes

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.

Nouran Smogluk
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?

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6 steps to take with your employee engagement survey 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:

  1. Set goals and a timeline
  2. Analyze your survey results
  3. Discuss the results with managers
  4. Create an action plan
  5. Present the results to your employees
  6. Decide on next steps

1. Set goals and timelines

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.

2. Analyze your survey results

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:

  • Segment the data. If you can filter based on different departments or tenure, you can probably identify slightly different patterns than if you were to only look at aggregated data. Different groups of employees likely have different experiences. 
  • Categorize the answers to open-ended questions. Analyzing open-ended questions takes time, but they often provide some of the most insightful responses. Categorizing responses to these questions makes it easier to recognize overarching patterns.  
  • Look for feedback that is surprising to you. We’re all fallible. We all have blindspots and suffer from confirmation bias. That means it’s easy to highlight feedback that’s in line with your expectations while missing important things that you wouldn’t have expected to hear. So make a point to actively look for statements that you might be inclined to disagree with. 
  • Include other people in analyzing the results. Seeing if someone else reads responses in the same way and has the same takeaways will make your conclusions more reliable. 
employee engagement survey result ana
Officevibe compares your engamenet survey results to industry benchmarks so you know where you stand.

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. 

3. Discuss the results with managers

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.

Source: direct quote from Harriet Willmott at Remotion

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.

4. Create an action plan

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. 

an employee engagement quote that says: Creating an action plan based on survey results increases employee engaement by 10%/

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:

  1. Pick out the top 2-3 pressing areas that you will focus on.
  2. Brainstorm potential solutions for improving those areas.
  3. Get input from senior leadership, managers, and other employees as needed. 
  4. Prioritize your potential solutions.
  5. Create your plan, including the projects you’ll tackle, timelines, expected outcomes, and means of measuring success.

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. 

5. Present the results to your employees

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. 

  • Take the time to thank everyone for their input. Consider sharing a few comments that were especially insightful or helpful. Employees who feel heard are 4.6x more likely to feel empowered to do their best work, so make sure your team knows you value and hear their feedback.
  • Share your action plan openly. Identifying things you can do better as a company always sends the message that you’re aiming for continuous improvement. This should motivate and inspire your employees. 
  • Be specific. Tell them what you want to address, when you plan on working on it, and who is responsible for executing it. The more specific you are, the more of a commitment you’ll be making to your employees. Empower them to hold you accountable. 

6. Decide on next steps

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: 

  • What’s the general sentiment across the company like? 
  • Are people happy with the action plan that you presented or are there aspects that could be improved? 
  • What can you do to make the process easier or better for 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. 

Start leveraging your employee engagement survey results

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. 

Meet the Author

Nouran Smogluk

Nouran is a passionate people manager who believes that work should be a place where people grow, develop, and thrive. She writes for Supported Content and also blogs about a variety of topics, including remote work, leadership, and creating great customer experiences.

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