So you’ve completed your first employee engagement survey. Great! Now what to do with employee engagement survey results?

If you conduct any survey be it an employee engagement survey, pulse survey, or an employee satisfaction survey, but don't communicate or act on the results, what's the point of conducting one? Will it actually make a difference?

What are the steps that you need to take next? How can you put your survey results to good use? What’s the best way to discover actionable insights to improve your workplace in the future?

These are great questions - and we’ll cover them all in this blog post, and more too. Let’s get started!

What to do with Employee Engagement Survey results?

So once you run your employee engagement survey - especially if you’re doing it for the first time - what do you do next? If you’ve designed a well-crafted and thoughtful survey, you’ll have plenty of data, statistics, and potential verbatim feedback to go through.

But if you think your work is now done - not yet! It’s actually just beginning. That’s because what you do with your employee engagement survey findings is actually the most important part of your survey process.

But don’t worry - we’ve got you covered with how to use your employee engagement survey results and action plan. Your complete guide to drafting your post-survey plan of action is right here.

Just follow these dos and don’ts to derive actionable insights and take the right steps.

1. Do act transparently

Employees took time out of their busy workdays to provide thoughtful feedback on your survey - so what are you going to tell them when it’s over?

If your feedback is much more negative than you thought it would be, it can be tempting to stuff the results in a drawer or server somewhere and hope everyone forgets about them. (Research shows that 20% of companies essentially do just that.)

But employees aren’t going to forget that easily - and it looks like you’re hiding the results, which erodes trust and engagement. So take a deep breath and instead thank employees for taking the time to take the survey.

It was an optional activity initially for the company's benefit, not them, after all. Now is the time to deliver an action plan that shows employees that taking the survey benefits them too because you’re listening to what they say and taking action on their feedback.

They’ll be even more likely to take the survey next year - and that simple act of listening might raise engagement scores all on its own.

2. Don’t lump every person together

It’s a best practice from the experts at SHRM - once your survey results are in, don’t just look at the data as a whole. Even for smaller companies, employees in different roles and departments will have very different experiences at work, and their engagement scores and factors likely look very different as well.

Instead, look at the overall data for any broad trends, and then keep diving into relevant groupings. This could be by department employee level organizational units and/or by demographic results. Looking at the data this way will help you better spot important trends.

For example, say you look at your engagement data and find low scores in one particular department. What’s going on? Well, check the data further. Is there a generational disconnect, with younger workers feeling less happy and more frustrated?

Or maybe individual contributors are pretty engaged, but the management level is not. Once you identify the gaps, you can start thinking about solutions.

3. Do take tangible action

If you’re only surveying employees because you’re curious about what they think, but their thoughtful feedback responses don’t lead to any actual change, employees will realize you’re not actually interested in taking action.

And then, they will stop providing real answers in upcoming surveys. Why should they share their thoughts, after all, if you’re not really listening? That’s why sharing employee engagement survey results and action plans becomes crucial.

You should take the data you’ve just gleaned from your analysis and start deciding changes you will make as a result. These changes don’t need to be huge - it can be as simple as eliminating a process employees find frustrating or making it easier for managers to recognize employees at the moment with the right recognition tools.

The important thing is to do something meaningful to show you’ve listened and you care.

4. Don’t let defensiveness get in the way.

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According to SHRM, leaders who receive negative feedback from their teams in their employee engagement survey too often react with denial and defensiveness. 

While feeling a bit defensive might be a natural first response, if your emotional reaction to open and honest feedback is getting in the way of actually seeing the need to make changes in your workplace, then you have a problem.

Getting actionable insights from your employee engagement survey means you need to commit to accepting and acting on feedback before your HR and leadership team sends the survey out.

5. Do communicate proactively

You need to make real changes if you’re getting lots of negative feedback - but those changes can take time.

That’s ok, as long as you’re consistently communicating with employees about what you heard them say, what changes you’re going to make, and when they should expect to see and feel those changes.

Your employees know that things take time - they want to feel reassured that their feedback was heard. Having a solid communications plan for announcing and sharing employee engagement survey results and action plans, thanking employees for taking the time to answer, and letting them know what you’re doing with their feedback is an essential part of your post-survey plan.

6. Don’t obsess over one number

While hard data is important in analyzing survey results, focusing too much on a single data point is often counterproductive.

When employee engagement is much larger than any single issue, it can lead to superficial efforts to boost that single engagement element.

At AT&T, for example, instead of giving line managers and supervisors access to scores, executives give them trends and verbatim feedback from their most recent pulse surveys. This focuses on the root causes of issues instead of targeting a single number to fixate on.

7. Do keep surveying employees regularly

While you can certainly get interesting information from running a survey once, you’ll find many more insights to be had if you consistently survey employees so you can track trends and progress over time.

This might mean committing to a large annual survey or adding in targeted pulse surveys like the ones in the Empuls platform so you can get feedback in real-time. Whatever your preference, be sure you keep at it.

While it might be challenging for your organization to take in feedback and make changes at first, you’ll reap the rewards over time.

Choosing the right employee engagement survey vendor

While there are plenty of employee engagement survey vendors in the market, choosing a flexible solution, like Empuls, that will let you customize and configure your surveys can go a long way in making your initiatives successful.

Empuls is one of the market's employee engagement survey vendors and offers best-in-class features like survey anonymity, customizable questions, eNPS tracking, graphical reports and analytics, and much more.

Key takeaways

Running your first employee engagement survey is exciting - and sometimes a little bit scary too. But with a solid action plan ready when you get those results in, you can make real changes and improve your employee engagement scores over time.

That helps you build a better company and a better place to work - all by asking a few questions.‍

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Kathleen O'Donnell

Kathleen O'Donnell LinkedIn

Kathleen is a freelance writer and employee communications and culture expert, with 6+ years of experience in corporate internal communications.