General Employee Engagement and Surveys FAQ
Employee Engagement is the personal commitment each staff member has for their job, coworkers and company. That commitment reflects how well they feel their current employer serves their overall personal and career aspirations, how driven they are to contribute to the company they work for and make their employer successful, and how satisfied their personal motivators are by their roles.
While it can be overlooked, high levels of engagement lead to improved profitability, sales, employee performance, productivity, safety records whilst also reducing staff turnover and absenteeism. It is believed that disengagement costs US employers up to $550 billion per year as productivity drops by as much as 25% in workforces who are not engaged.
An Employee Engagement survey assesses just how motivated and committed your employees are to being the best they can be each day. An engagement survey gives insights into the thoughts, attitudes and perceptions your team bring to work and how it impacts their performance.
Surveys provide observations that can influence how enterprises manage their culture, working environment and overall human capital.
They can also simply act as a modern day suggestion box for the digital workforce.
This is an area of confusion for many. Engagement occurs when employees turn up work motivated to do what they can to achieve success for the company they work for. It is the innate will to succeed driven by the alignment between their personal and company goals.
For example, Mary’s hours are 9am-5pm but she arrives at 8.45am because she is excited to get started on time. She often stays late because she feels she can make a difference to each client she works with. Mary is driven by the opportunity to impact people because this is the work she truly wants to do and your company puts her career on the right path for her. Mary is fully engaged and willing to go the extra mile every time for your customers and company.
Job satisfaction is about enjoyment and extrinsic factor satisfaction. For example, Jacob has worked in administration for your plant for 5 years. He is paid well, enjoys the team he is in, receives excellent benefits and has been promoted twice. He has flexibility to clock off early on a Friday and rarely finds himself in challenging scenarios. The job hits all of the basic needs for financial and personal security but doesn’t feel like it’s a calling. He will do enough and may work overtime when needed but the same personal ambition to be a success is not there. Jacob is satisfied but doesn’t feel an innate drive motivated by the work he does.
Many companies use employee engagement surveys because they understand passion, purpose and alignment across the team impacts performance. A survey is not just a routine business practice, it is a platform for your employees to voice their honest opinions, give feedback and feel heard. Where employee opinions are valued, they are 4.6 times more likely to treat company success as their own and strive for better results.
If you face challenges with turnover or absenteeism; if you think you can get more out of your team than you currently do; if you want to understand what is and is not working; if employee performance impacts your business success; if you want to maintain high standards you should be conducting employee engagement surveys.
Engagement surveys aren’t just about hearing your team. It is about empowering them to do their best work and empowering your leadership to facilitate collective success. In tangible terms, engagement surveys reveal:
- The intent employees have to stay long term with your business
- The conditions impacting employee performance
- The effectiveness of your management at leading the team to get results
- The opportunities and weakness of your performance management practices
- The opportunity to make changes for the betterment of the company
- The employee performance and commitment in line with changes over time
- The intrinsic motivators of your employees
- The needs for training, new equipment or further support within the team
- The employee experience with regard to inclusivity, fairness and diversity
- The willingness of your team to use discretionary effort to achieve success
Engagement surveys leverage what we know of psychology, sociology and neurology to understand the cognitive experience and conditions of the employee in order to enable improvement in performance over time. Surveys are designed to elicit responses that measure cognitive commitment (purpose), emotional attachment (trust), employee happiness, pride, the overall employee experience (EX) and how these factors impact behavioral outcomes. The relationship of these specific measurements are manifested in employee performance.
By understanding these metrics, leadership is empowered to create an experience that encourages enhanced performance, increased loyalty and better business results. Feedback from the surveys can be used in conjunction with 1:1s, wider team meetings and strategy sessions to align business goals with individual career aspirations for harmonious benefit.
Engagement surveys use a variety of open and closed ended questions to understand how the employee experiences performance management strategies. Many surveys use the Likert ratings system where employees choose from canned responses or a numerical set.
For example: From 1-5, rate how you are feeling at work? Or, my suggestions are valued and enacted at work – a. Strongly Agree b. Agree c. Neutral d. Disagree e. Strongly Disagree.
Closed question surveys allow the surveyor to quantify and score outcomes overall. This can then be used to chart performances overtime, compare departments and highlight specific areas of concern.
Open ended questions give employees the space to voice concerns specific to them or their experience. For example: “how would you describe your relationship with your manager?” “What are your personal goals in this role?”, “Have you any additional comments to include?”.
Pulse surveys take a snapshot of how engaged employees are feeling a few times a year. They may be limited to individual teams, departments or extended to the entire company. They often show trends of when employee morale and engagement dips or begins to decline allowing for pinpointing of potential issues.
The truth is that it depends. Amazon runs a 2 question survey every day with their teams as they log in simply asking how the employee is and what their opinion of different issues are.
Some factors worth considering are performance and morale over time, significant change experienced in recent times, churn (turnover) rates and any potentially concerning metrics. These would suggest that bi-weekly, monthly or bi-monthly surveys should be considered.
We would advise against overly frequent large surveys as this tends to discourage responses. By the same token, annual surveys and feedback is just not enough. Employees should be heard on a regular basis. Short surveys can be conducted weekly, biweekly or monthly and larger engagement surveys every quarter would represent best practice.
A solid response rate for the survey is around 70-80% as this provides actionable results. Most employees are delighted to be asked for their feedback and opinions but to ensure representative response rates there are a few things you should do.
- Pick a good time. Make sure there is some freedom in the team schedule before sending out the survey.
- Make a formal announcement. Whether by email or in person, let the team know you will do a survey and what you hope to get out of it.
- Send reminders. SurveyBot automatically sends reminders with a link to the survey to make it easy and automated.
- Hold team leads and management accountable. Don’t impose penalties but do ask them to assist in getting full participation.
- Reassure anonymity. If you are procuring anonymous feedback, give reassurances where possible of who can see the responses.
- Don’t overdo it with surveys. Too many surveys lead to reduced responses. Having them at the same time each month or quarter helps them to build a habit of responding.
- Discuss the results and put them into action. Nothing renders a survey more pointless to employees than not discussing or actioning their feedback
Surveys are designed to understand and amplify success and solve failures. It is most valuable to communicate the takeaways to the team and let them know what will be done going forward as a result of the survey.
If it is appropriate, create focus groups or task teams to review the results and consider the meaning from a business standpoint. Empower the team to create action items and strategies. Once this process has been concluded, communicate the strategy and action items to the surveyed team. With the buy-in of each team member, you will be able to create cohesive momentum.