Retention is a top priority in most HR departments. Recruiting new employees is expensive and time consuming. Turnover problems will continue if employees don’t feel engaged. The workers who feel engaged are more motivated and less likely to leave on short notice. An employee engagement survey is one of the best tools for measuring and tracking engagement.
How do you go about creating an employee engagement survey—what should you expect from it and what questions should you ask? Learn more here:
What is an employee engagement survey?
Worker surveys are one of the common components of the employee review process. Engagement surveys track a key element of the employee experience: whether workers feel satisfied and fulfilled in their current roles.
Engagement often affects productivity, but it’s possible for a highly productive worker to be miserable and eager to leave. Surveys allow you to measure changes in this rather subjective personal judgment.
When companies decide to measure engagement, too many rely on questions added to a lengthy annual review. In order to identify changes in a timely manner, engagement surveys should be used a few times a year, ideally in a quarterly cycle.
For all HR surveys, do your best to ensure anonymity and workers will answer more honestly. You can send email links and reminders, but managers should also use meeting times to remind employees about upcoming surveys and deadlines.
What is the purpose of an employee engagement survey?
Develop a real plan for how to use the survey results before you pitch your new survey initiative to the C-suite. Employees want to feel like their voices are heard, and managers want to know that extra surveys aren’t wasting company time.
Here are a few of the ways you can use engagement surveys:
Track levels and drivers of engagement
Has employee engagement gone up or down since last quarter? What has changed since then? You can’t always identify a single driver, but ongoing surveys will suggest how different variables affect workers.
Judge whether current strategies are working
If you already have a program to increase engagement, then surveys should reflect a positive trend. Lackluster survey results may suggest that there’s a problem with your current strategy.
Test new HR initiatives
HR resources include lots of ideas for workplace culture, but it’s not always easy to test their impact. Regular engagement surveys can tell whether a new program actually improves engagement.
Prove that your organization listens to employees
Employees want to feel like their voices are heard. Follow-up with employees to let them know about survey results and changes planned in response to their feedback.
Best practices for engagement surveys:
Some workers and managers are justifiably suspicious about surveys. Make the most of your survey initiative by getting input from stakeholders and promoting a culture of employee feedback.
Avoid common HR survey mistakes by following these tips and recommendations:
Align with leadership
Everyone will get frustrated if your engagement survey fails to align with the priorities of management. Make sure your targeting metrics that matter for leadership, and they’ll be more open to changes that target improvement in those areas.
Communicate early and often
Some surveys and feedback have no visible impact on the company. From the employee perspective, those surveys feel like a waste of time. Communication from HR can set realistic expectations and make employees feel more engaged with the survey process.
- Expectations: Be honest with workers about the goals and scope of surveys. Don’t set unreasonable expectations by floating the possibility of new benefits or massive changes.
- Transparency: Update employees throughout the process and share the cumulative results. What departments had the highest participation rate? Has the average engagement gone up or down?
- Follow-up: Get buy-in from managers about making changes in response to survey feedback. Highlight when changes are being made in order to improve engagement.
Keep surveys short and sweet
Nobody likes long surveys–unless it’s about something personal like your Myers-Briggs type. Your routine engagement survey should be short enough to complete in 5 to 10 minutes. Answers will be less reliable on long, tedious surveys—and some workers will just skip them altogether.
Avoid industry jargon
HR has its own specialized jargon, but your survey should be accessible to entry-level workers from any background. Even the word “engagement” means very different things to different workers. The sample questions below tackle relatable concepts with simple language.
Start with easy questions
Use a little basic psychology when arranging questions. Employees will get intimidated if the first question is hard to answer and they assume the rest of the survey will be equally hard. A couple of quick, easy answers will help workers get into a survey mindset and build up momentum.
End with easy questions
The final questions can shape how employees remember the whole survey. If workers struggle to answer the last part, then they may be reluctant to begin taking your next survey.
Avoid multi-step questions
Simple questions will yield more quantifiable results. Each question should focus on its own topic with a single answer. Conditional questions like “If ___, then…” may only apply to employees who see themselves in the first part of the question.
Remove open-ended questions
Fill-in-the-blank questions are great for anonymous complaints and suggestions, but they shouldn’t be the focus of engagement surveys. Most of your questions should use a five-point scale so that it’s easy to collect and compare results over time.
Make your design inviting and easy-to-follow
Short and simple questions should be presented in a welcoming and friendly way. The survey itself should be engaging, not an interrogation or another chore. Your Performance and Engagement Management Software should have user-friendly templates that are easy for employees to navigate.
Plan for rewards and recognition
Make surveys more fun for workers by recognizing departments that get full participation. When managers and policy changes improve engagement, try to give credit where it’s due. Make a habit of recognizing consistent productivity, and use engagement surveys to check whether those workers feel appreciated.
Specific survey questions to ask:
Use these suggested questions to get started. Focus on issues that also matter to leadership. Make sure your company is ready to take meaningful action in response to employee feedback.
- Would you recommend your job/company to a friend?
- Do you believe the organization has employee best interests in mind?
- Does your manager inspire you to do your best work?
- Does your team help you successfully complete your work?
- Do you have the information and equipment needed to do your best work?
- Do you have a good understanding of our informal structures and processes?
- When something unexpected comes, do you usually know whom to ask for help?
Engagement and recognition
- When you contribute to the organization’s success, do you feel recognized?
- Does your job give you the flexibility to meet the needs of your personal life?
- Do you think your opinions count at work?
- Do you feel your immediate manager cares about your development?
- Do you believe we’ve maintained adequate communication with all employees?
- Are you satisfied with the way the company has managed both business and people?
Goals and advancement
- Are goals and accountabilities clear and achievable?
- Do you feel that you have the opportunity for advancement at this organization?
- Do you understand the company’s plans for future success?
DEI and work environment
- Do you feel that all people are welcome and respected at the company?
- Have you ever felt disrespected or marginalized at work?
Discover how Netchex can help improve engagement and retention with employee surveys:
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