Employee Engagement Survey: Everything You Need to Know
The employee engagement survey is one of the most common ways for managers to understand what their teams think of their jobs, as well as the company as a whole. 8 min read
What Is an Employee Engagement Survey?
The employee engagement survey is one of the most common ways for managers to understand what their teams think of their jobs, as well as the company as a whole. Not only do employment engagement surveys help determine whether or not an employee is invested in the company mission and success, but it can also be a good indicator of the health of the company and an important way to determine areas that need improvement.
While the type of engagement survey most often used today was pioneered by Gallup more than 30 years ago, the roots of engagement surveys go as far back as the 1800s when an industrial engineer, Fredrick Taylor, wanted to show how employee attitudes affected productivity.
Employment engagement surveys usually measure:
- Job satisfaction
- Relationships at work
Why Measure Engagement?
Research has shown that employees who are more engaged with their work are more likely to stay motivated and feel job fulfillment. In turn, this motivation can lead to higher levels of productivity which will result in more profits for the organization.
One of the easiest ways to increase employee engagement is by regularly requesting feedback from your team to know how they're feeling at any given point in time.
Using Surveys to Develop Engagement Strategies: Decide What You Want to Study
Before developing your employee engagement survey, it is important to decide what it is you want to measure.
For an increase in management performance, you may want to use the management performance survey template, or extract only the portion of the employee engagement survey template that deals with management performance.
It is best to start with smaller more focused areas to survey, so you do not end up with too much information to properly develop the next step strategy.
Using Surveys to Develop Engagement Strategies: Identity Areas for Action
After completing the survey and analyzing the data, you will need to develop your course of action. While it may be your first reaction to try and improve on everything that has been addressed on the surveys or received a less-than-perfect score, it is not typically the best course of action.
Instead, try to focus on a few of the key issues that come up repeatedly throughout the surveys, or would have the largest impact on employee performance or morale. You can also focus on points that would be the most effective use of time and resources to rectify.
Problems With the Traditional Concept of Engagement
Your employee engagement may be suffering simply due to a failure to ask the right kinds of questions. To get the most out of engagement surveys, it is best to ask questions that will be able to get you the information you need.
One problem with employee engagement surveys has to do with timing. Many employers conduct their surveys during the summer months when their employees are most happy. While this often results in higher participation rates, it won't give you as accurate a measurement as it would if done at various time throughout the year.
With many companies finding difficulties with the actual engagement of their employees, it is important for surveys to convert from an annual check-up review to a more holistic, continuous, and organic approach to the business strategy. Being able to properly engage with employees is so important that it can give a company a competitive edge for hiring in the marketplace.
Other problems that can affect administering employee engagement surveys include:
- Companies going through leadership or management changes that have not had time yet to engage with their workforce
- Workload might be too high
- There could be a lack of investment in the development of talent
- Some companies have a non-inclusive culture which makes it hard for today's diverse workforce
- Old fashion methods of work may still be present
How to Come Up With Employee Engagement Survey Questions
While asking the right questions on your employee engagement survey is essential, it is also important to administer your surveys at the proper frequency to be able to stay on top of employee sentiment.
Traditionally, annual engagement surveys have been the best way to get a lot of collective feedback and metrics from employees. Human resource departments rely heavily on this feedback for reports, even though it only reflects the data available at the time it is conducted.
Employee pulse surveys have become the new way of measuring employee engagement and job satisfaction, and to even be able to track engagement trends to see what is working for employees.
Weekly surveys can take less time to implement, keep tabs on ongoing touch points, collect more data, evoke higher participation rates, and be more cost effective for human resources.
Types of Survey Questions
When creating an employee engagement survey, it is important to include a variety of question types so that you will be able to get more valuable feedback. Types of questions to include in your survey are:
- Quantitative questions – Quantitative questions are things with a predetermined set of responses, which include multiple choice, true/false, opinion, and yes/no questions. Quantitative questions are great options because they can be grouped together and can show trends when compared. To make analysis easier, all of the quantitative answers should be converted to a numerical scale.
- Qualitative questions – Qualitative questions are open-ended questions that you use to get more detailed information on a particular topic. These types of questions could be similar to, "what would you improve about the company," or "what are ways that you feel your employee experience could be improved?" Qualitative questions can be used for a multitude of things, even as follow-ups to quantitative questions.
Questions to Ask
One of the most important parts of developing an employee engagement survey is deciding on the best questions to ask to get the information you need. Some of the questions or items to discuss on your employee engagement surveys include:
- Do they feel they are given enough autonomy?
- Do they feel there is the opportunity for growth past their current position?
- How is their relationship with their managers?
- How often does their manager check in with them?
- Are they happy with their job?
- What is their mood when they leave work?
- Are they in good health?
- Do the values of the company align with their core values?
- Do they believe in the current mission and vision of their organization?
- Is their work environment too noisy?
- Is their work area too distracting?
- Are they happy with their salary and benefits?
- Do they have any close friends at work?
- Do they eat with colleagues or do they prefer to eat alone?
- How often do they receive feedback on their work?
- Do they feel that the feedback they receive can help them improve their job?
- Do they feel that they are recognized for their work?
- Are they proud of where they work?
- Do they foresee themselves still working with the company in one year? Five years? Ten years?
When structuring questions, make sure that they are not leading questions and are clear and concise to avoid skewing the data or getting an untrue answer. Additionally, do not combine two questions in one to prevent confusion.
Rethinking the Concept: Think Holistically
Creating a high-performance work environment is a complex problem as companies need to communicate a mission and values, train managers and leaders that live and represent these values, and then carefully select the right people who fit.
And once people join, they have to continuously improve, redesign, and tweak the work environment to make it modern, humane, and enjoyable to not only promote employee satisfaction and engagement, but to promote employee retention as well.
Younger workers entering the workforce are desiring to work for a specific organization based on the whole work environment, and the flexibility and transparency a company may have to offer. Because of this, employees often end up leaving an organization due to elements involved in the organization as a whole instead of disagreements or issues with management, which used to be the norm.
In the new economy, peers, work environment, company ideals, mission, and organizational culture have a greater impact on commitment than management.
Financial institutions today state that they are having a harder time recruiting people because they are no longer "cool" places to work at which is not a traditional problem of engagement, rather one of identity, mission, and culture.
Companies that approach employee engagement with a holistic approach go beyond engagement surveys. They use information from feedback to change the work environment, re-design the scope of jobs, add new benefits, continuously develop managers, and invest in people.
New companies that are more mission-driven hire employees that are pre-screened to fit in with their culture and consider them more than hired hands that fill positions. They understand that the employees are more than workers and are essential to the products and services themselves.
The new company mantras that support and promote employee engagement include:
- You don't retain people; you have to attract them.
- You can't engage people, but you can inspire and support them.
- You can't train them, but you can give them the opportunities to learn and develop.
New Tools and Approaches
While the engagement survey is not going away yet, it is now being replaced by new tools and techniques that measure happiness, alignment, and job satisfaction in real time. Some of these new tools for measurement include:
- Rapid pulse surveys
- Analytics applications that correlate performance to work factors
- Day-to-day tools that let people communicate openly
A well-honed example of measuring employee "senses" is the Japanese Niko-Niko calendar, which was pioneered by Toyota. It involves a tool that give their managers a daily look at how happy their employees are.
New technology has also given way to new software and other tools and programs that can help to aid in employee "sensing." Some of the vendors that have been developing these new tools include:
- Culture Amp
There are also companies that find ways to build their own internal "employee sensing" system. These systems are used to show how well employees like each other, their level of trust in managers and the company, and who they collaborate with on a regular or day-to-day basis.
Employee Engagement Survey Results
One of the most important parts of an employee engagement survey, and the primary reason for implementing them in the first place, is to be able to analyze results, and find ways for improvement within the company or organization.
Some employees may be naturally skeptical at first about the original motive behind the survey, and if anything will ever be done with it. It is your responsibility to address these concerns and reassure them of the importance of the surveys to improve the organization.
Once the results are analyzed, it is important to get the information to your managers so that they can discuss the results with their teams, and discuss what next steps will be taken to address the issues that were determined in the survey. This will not only make them feel they are a part of the process, but will also establish a trust that the motive behind the surveys is for the good of the employees and organization as a whole.
Be sure that the employees are thanked for their time and help in improving the organization, and maintain regular follow-ups to address the progression of the goals set as a response to the survey.
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