A Complete Guide to Employee Engagement Surveys

A Complete Guide to Employee Engagement Surveys - The Best Way to Measure Engagement

What is an employee engagement survey and how does it move mountains? Here's everything you need to know about it in detail.

Kathleen O'Donnell
Kathleen O'Donnell

‍Employee engagement - you might know it as the hottest buzzword in HR and leadership circles for a while now. You know it needs to be high for your company to prosper, and you know it’s probably not high enough right now. But what does employee engagement really mean, why is it vital to know how your company is doing, what is an employee engagement survey, how to conduct employee engagement surveys, and why are employee engagement surveys important?   Don’t worry - this post will cover all of that and more. Let’s dive in!

What is Employee Engagement?

How do you think most of the workers at your company feel each morning when they get out of bed and prepare to come to work? Do they usually feel excited to get to their desks and start working on their tasks, feeling a sense of pride and accomplishment? Or do they typically dread another day spent slogging through their work and arrive at the office already demotivated and demoralized?

Asking this question is about more than just checking in on your employees’ feelings. When your employees are highly engaged, they’re like the first group - excited to come to work, committed to your organization's goals and values, and put in their best efforts for your team every day. But disengaged employees - that second group - lacks an emotional commitment to the job and the company as a whole. They’re just going through the motions.

Why is Employee Engagement Important?

These two types of employees have a huge impact on the bottom line of your business. Research by Gallup has found that companies in the top quartile for employee engagement outperformed the bottom-quartile units by 10% in customer satisfaction, 17% in productivity rates, 20% in sales, and 21% in profitability. The highly engaged groups also had a stronger safety record and less turnover than their disengaged peers.

But how do you know which group most of your employees fall into on most days? Guessing isn’t effective - you might think you’ve made your company or department a great place to work, but only your employees know for sure. So you know what you need to do - ask them! That’s exactly what the employee engagement survey helps you do.

What is an Employee Engagement Survey?

An employee engagement survey is a simple idea - a series of questions that you send out to your employees to gauge each team's engagement level, department, and the company as a whole.

But while their purpose is clear, measuring employee engagement through surveys is a little trickier than it first appears.There are many different ways to conduct an employee engagement survey. Many organizations, especially big corporations, use the popular Gallup Q12 format that asks 12 key questions about the employee experience.

Other organizations build and conduct a large, thorough survey every year as a responsibility of the Human Resource department. And still, others rely on shorter but more frequent pulse surveys, including the increasingly popular Employee Net Promoter Score, to measure engagement throughout the year.

All of these methods are different, but they share the same goal - to measure employee engagement levels at your business. Pick the one that aligns most closely with your goals and budget, and you won’t go wrong. An employee engagement survey often gets confused with employee satisfaction surveys, but they’re slightly different in both intent and design.

Employees can be satisfied but disengaged - maybe they like their salary and the location of their office. Still, the work they do every day is rote and micromanaged, so they’re not actually engaged emotionally. Those employees still cause negative results for your business because they don’t feel the need to go above and beyond to excel. '

Key Indicators of Employee Engagement

Now that we have understood what an employee engagement survey is, let’s take a look at the most important indicators of employee engagement? They might surprise you a little!

1. Trust in the chain of command

Suppose your employees don’t feel that they can trust the information they get from their direct manager, department head, or the top levels of your company. In that case, they will start to feel like they’re not being treated as professional adults who are handled with honesty. Getting too much spin and double-talk from the higher levels can be condescending or frustrating and decrease the organization's emotional commitment. That’s why employees at high-trust companies report 76% more engagement than those at low-trust ones.

2. Frequent, fair recognition

Do your employees know when they’ve done a great job on a task - whether it’s a large project or a small piece of work? Are you promoting these behaviors across the org to let employees know what success looks like and that hard work is recognized and rewarded? If you’re not, you’re missing out on a big driver of engagement. And if your recognition strategy is based on a concept like “Employee of the Month,” where everyone is recognized in the same way, no one will truly feel recognized. Keeping rewards personal and performance-based is a best practice endorsed by SHRM.

3. Asking for feedback

Simply asking employees for their opinion in a thoughtful, purposeful way can slightly increase engagement on its own. Your employees like to be asked what they think about life at your company - it shows you value their opinions and feedback. Facebook found that asking about employee engagement raised interest in tools to become more engaged at work by 12%. Of course, to get the engagement boost from asking for feedback, you need to put the changes employees suggest into action often enough to show you’re truly listening to what they say. This is where a post-survey action plan comes in handy.

Excellent Examples of Engagement Survey Strategies

With all the potential indicators of engagement, the nuances of measuring engagement levels at all, and the wide variety of ways to perform engagement surveys, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed at this point. But don’t worry! There are many ways to set up the engagement survey strategy that’s right for you. Here are three different ways you could potentially design your engagement survey strategy.

1. Big and traditional

Measuring employee engagement is possibly already part of the HR action plan for large corporations with thousands of employees. It’s quite possible to add in the Gallup Q12 survey budget or build your own based on your own HR team's expertise. Remember to keep the survey short so employees will answer it, and develop a post-survey action and communications plan to keep the momentum going. Throw in a pulse survey plan, like the one offered by Empuls, for any important areas where you want to keep an eye on progress as you go - this could be for one or two vital drivers of engagement you’re working to improve.

2. Medium-sized and ew

If your company is mid-sized and comparatively new to employee engagement surveys, you’re probably looking for some clear guidance on conducting employee engagement surveys in your organization.

Look no further than the Empuls guides on the 20 employee engagement survey questions that you can't forget to ask in your survey, the right way to pick an employee engagement survey vendor, and what to do with your employee engagement survey results once they’re in. Develop your custom action plan based on the current priorities of your business - you might not have the bandwidth to address every single engagement issue right now, so where do you want to focus right now? Set up your annual survey plan or pulse survey around those top priorities, and start asking your employees what they think on those topics.

3. Small and nimble

If you’re part of a small business or a start-up, the budget and time to create surveys are probably pretty lean. Check out the guides in the mid-sized section, and get smart about finding technology with a scalable cost that can help you run surveys on autopilot and direct you on what to do with the results. An option like Empuls, with pulse survey capability and key KPI indicators, could be a perfect fit as your business grows. The eNPS (employee Net Promoter Score) system might also be perfect for you - a well-studied, highly-regarded way to gauge employee engagement without designing or sending a long survey.

Employee Engagement Survey Platform

An employee engagement survey platform like Empuls can help organizations accurately capture the voice of employees. Collecting, measuring, and acting on employee inputs is made easy with an employee engagement survey platform. You can turn your employee feedback into genuine improvements with powerful analytics designed to drive actions. With precise, real-time data and inputs, you know exactly what drivers to focus on to drive the biggest impact on engagement.

Finding the Complete Employee Engagement Survey Guide for You

There’s so much to know about employee engagement surveys - why they are important, how to do them properly, and what they truly mean for your business. We hope this guide has given you a starting point to measure your employee engagement levels. And the first step towards raising your engagement rate is knowing where your company stands right now - that’s why you need to start creating your employee engagement survey today if you haven’t already.

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.