Why Conduct An Employee Engagement Survey

Are your employees engaged with their work and their teams? If you're unsure, the answer matters more than you think. Highly engaged workers are more productive, less likely to be in conflict, and produce better-quality products. Customers of companies with engaged employees are by-and-large more satisfied. Employee engagement surveys help companies know the pulse of employees and get a better understanding of how they feel about their jobs. Conducting an employee engagement survey is free and can be integrated effectively into daily business operations. Employee engagement surveys are not only simple to administer, but they give employers great insights for improving culture, retention rates and company growth.

Measuring Employee Engagement with Surveys

DecisionWise, a company that specializes in conducting employee engagement surveys, shared responses from over 200 companies across the globe (over 1.2 million employees), that showed 67% of organizations claim to "formally measure employee engagement on a regular basis and have specific initiatives in place to address their findings." 

Of course, there are different ways to go about measuring your employee engagement levels. There is the option of an annual survey that checks in with all employees once a year, or a survey style that allows employees to check in in real-time, any day, any time, to offer their input and address any concerns they may be having. This is the same idea as a suggestion box or communication box. Additionally, companies can offer spot surveys after conferences or events to gage employee participation and engagement and to gather opinions from employees on the fly. It will depend on your Edge software business scope and what you wish to measure that will help you decide what type of survey will work best for your workplace.

What Makes an Employee Engagement Survey Effective?

How do you know if your engagement survey is going to be effective? We asked Dr. Fiona Jamison, CEO of Spring International, for her input and expertise. Spring International is a custom research and people analytics firm that "helps organizations build stronger connections with their employees, customers, and members to increase productivity, lower costs, and create positive relationships." 

Dr. Jamison says that the key to ensuring an effective survey is "making sure your questions align with your culture, your business strategy, and achieve the performance 10 success factors. Your survey also needs to be written in a way that employees can easily understand the questions to provide clear and concise answers." Additionally, they recommend that each survey has an "open-ended text field to allow employees to have a voice and share concerns that you may not have included in the design."

What Type of Questions Work Best?

According to Dr. Jamison from Spring International, if your focus is strictly on employee engagement, you should keep your survey relatively short (within 30 questions or less). She states, "this should give you sufficient data to both measure engagement levels and understand some of the drivers of engagement such as work environment, leadership, job satisfaction, and workplace wellbeing. A traditional engagement survey will include statements and an attitudinal rating scale (i.e., strongly agree to strongly disagree)." Additionally, Spring International also recommends employers include an option for open-ended comments where employees can provide additional context and feedback.

Smarp, an employee communications platform that represents over four million employees worldwide, shared an article from experts with some of their favorite employee engagement questions to give you some specific ideas. The experts included a range of people from employee relations, talent management, and head of HR. Some of the ideas for particular questions to add to an employee engagement survey were as follows:

  • "If you won the lottery and decided to leave your company, what would you miss most about your company?"
  • "What's the one thing, money aside, that you value most at work?"
  • "Would you recommend a family member or a friend to work for this organization?"
  • "What are we doing fine? What do we need to improve? How would you like to be known in the industry?"

As you can see, these questions target what employees like/value most about their organization, and whether they would be likely to recommend their workplace to someone close to them.

Recruit & Retain Top Talent

Every company's employees are its greatest resource, and employee engagement surveys can help you get a better understanding of what makes them tick so they can be used to benefit your business. Through improved employee engagement, companies have been able to improve their retention rates while cutting back on costly turnover expenses.

Using an engagement survey to gauge your employees' satisfaction with various facets of their job can help you make improvements in the areas where they are dissatisfied. Employee engagement surveys give management insight into what is important to employees, which can be used to improve company culture and morale. They also provide information on how satisfied or dissatisfied workers are about their jobs. With this information, you can make changes in the business to improve the satisfaction of your employees and get them more invested in their work.

According to Deloitte Talent expert Josh Bersin, "talent has won," and employers need to work harder than in prior years to retain talent. Today's job market is highly transparent, and economic recovery spells increased work opportunities for skilled employees. In fact, Deloitte research has found that the world's sharpest brands consider talent retention one of their highest priorities, right behind developing global leaders. If you're not listening to your talent, you could risk watching them walk away.

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Provide Valuable & Actionable Employee Feedback

It may come as a surprise to HR leadership, but employees want to hear how they're doing. Quantum Research indicates employees feel that constructive feedback is at an all-time low. Women in particular are desperate to be recognized and learn about advancement opportunities they believe they deserve. 

The need for feedback is becoming increasingly important in business as, without it, employees are unable to develop themselves further and so are less likely to aim for top positions within the company. This could potentially have a negative effect on the organization's performance if managers are not made aware of their employees' desire for more opportunities.

Employees and managers should be able to work together in the best interests of the organization and this can be achieved by utilizing a performance management system, which includes an employee engagement survey and provides employees with feedback. This kind of system enables employees to understand their current position within the company, what steps they need to take in order to improve their skills, how well these improvements are being made, and any other areas for development. In fact, a manager should be able to provide feedback at least once a year and this is an important part of the process as it helps employees create their own personal development plans.

If the employee has received little or no feedback then they are unable to know whether they are performing well enough in their current position. Additional advice from the CEO at Spring International, Dr. Fiona Jamison, is that it is important to follow a five-step process at minimum when following up on the results of a survey. Her suggested steps are as follows:

  1. Share results back to all employees – even if it is an overall summary.
  2. Identify one or two focus areas that you plan to address and develop an action plan for making change.
  3. For those issues you cannot address, or which are not priorities for the business – explain to employees why they have not been selected for change.
  4. Empower managers to act by giving them results for their own teams.
  5. Involve employees in generating solutions for issues that have been identified.

This combination of basic steps will "ensure there is some accountability for the survey process and taking action."

How To Solve Employee Disengagement

Get To The Root of Employee Disengagement 

While Deloitte has found that 13 percent of workers are highly engaged, but 26 percent are actively disengaged. These unhappy workers may be vocal about their dissatisfaction or could be actively seeking opportunities to defect to a competitor... or join a union. Disengaged employees are a business’s worst nightmare. They cost the company money in lost productivity and in terms of recruitment, training, and retention costs. In fact, disengagement can account for up to 30% of all turnover. And that doesn't even take into consideration the potential effects on customer service or operational procedures if an employee is disgruntled with their job.

It's not hard to see why engagement is such a crucial element of successful organizations these days - but what exactly does it mean? There are four components that make up this elusive concept:

  1. Emotional commitment
  2. Feeling competent at work
  3. Having pride in one's work
  4. Believing there is room for growth within the company. 

Employees who feel engaged are more likely to be satisfied with their current role, and they're also more productive. The solution? It's a two-way street. If employers want to keep their employees engaged, then they have to do their part as well by offering adequate training opportunities and allowing them to take on challenges that will further develop their skillset. This is where employee engagement surveys come in - as they help you understand your employees' needs on a very specific scale. This will not only help to deliver better customer service, but it will also secure their investment in the long-run.

Identify, Reward, and Encourage Rising Talent

Employee engagement surveys are an important tool for organizations to identify and nurture rising talent. By identifying employees who are engaged in their work and have a high level of productivity, organizations can create a system where these individuals are rewarded and recognized for their efforts. Additionally, by understanding the factors that contribute to employee engagement, organizations can develop strategies to increase employee engagement across the board.

Companies that identify and reward exceptional leaders have a natural edge in employee engagement. Nearly 80 percent of workers who dislike their direct manager are disengaged with their jobs. Employee engagement studies can help you identify the most effective and well-liked managers whose teams outperform their less-effective counterparts.

Increased Engagement Drives Cost Savings

If performing research on employee engagement sounds like it will sap already-overworked HR budgets, consider the value. Disengaged workers cost the U.S. economy an estimated $500 billion each year in lost productivity and replacement costs. While appropriate research on your team will require an investment of time and resources, you could identify key trends in your organization that lead to major cost savings over time.

According to a Gartner survey, the average cost of hiring and training a replacement for an employee who leaves voluntarily or is fired runs between $5,000 and $10,000. Even if you were to let go just one employee this year, it would offset any gains made by implementing new policies designed to increase morale.

Employee engagement surveys can be a cost-effective means of determining what is causing your workforce to become disengaged. These insights can then be used to design solutions that address problems before they cause employees to seek better opportunities elsewhere. Increased productivity and decreased turnover are just two potential benefits of implementing an employee engagement survey . If executed correctly, this one initiative could help you avoid the significant expense of replacing employees and ensure that you're getting the most out of their talents.

Follow-Through With Employees To Improve Engagement

Taking Action

Once you’ve done your homework and have a clear picture of where employee engagement can be improved, it’s time to take action. Inspiring front-line managers and supervisors can be as easy – and as difficult – as providing ongoing training. When those that have direct contact with employees have the knowledge they need to support and truly connect with those employees, engagement levels increase and higher productivity comes naturally.

IRI Consultants has had four decades' worth of experience in helping employers connect. Our in-house capabilities have provided thousands of companies with the resources they need to connect with employees and improve engagement. Our custom communication resources have been trusted to deliver behavioral change at a cultural level. We know how important it can be to assess the engagement levels within your organization. Get more information on how to improve engagement, here.

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About the Author Walter Orechwa

Walter is Director of IRI's Digital Workplace Solutions Group, and the founder of A Better Leader. Walter provides expert advice, highly effective employee communication resources and ongoing learning opportunities for Human Resources and Labor Relations professionals.