Do's and Don'ts of employee engagement surveys thumbs up and down

In a  recently blog post, we spoke about the importance of employee engagement and how a lack thereof can snowball into serious financial losses for an organization (or serious opportunity costs – depending on how you want to look at it).

Employee engagement is an employee’s passion for their job which influences their willingness to learn & perform at work. Because it has been shown that there is a direct correlation between employee engagement and business profitability, it is no wonder that engagement has been a hot topic for quite some time and that organizations are seeking to increase engagement as much as possible.

One of the tips that I offered to help boost employee engagement is to ‘ask’. Since informal polling of staff through casual dialogue is not always feasible or effective, conducting employee engagement surveys is a great way to gauge overall engagement and to ‘ask’ staff about engagement issues.

I just finished reading ‘One Page Talent Management’ written by Mark Effron and Miriam Ort. In the book, the authors serve up clear and simple suggestions for crafting and executing employee engagement surveys.


Ask as few questions as possible:

If this is the first time that you are creating and executing an engagement survey, it might be difficult to hone in on the exact data that you  should aim to capture  but time spent prioritizing items will be worth it. Employees are more likely to complete surveys if they are relatively shorter and survey results are easier to compile and share if they are concise.

Ask Questions that are Actionable:

You might have tons of questions that can gauge engagement; however, unless management can act on the results, they are useless and will not help to increase engagement. A good practice is to run the potential questions by managers and ask them to provide two action items should the answers be ‘low’. If the managers cannot name any items, then the question should be left out, or reworded.

Share the Results with as Many Levels as Possible:

If a properly formatted engagement survey indicates low engagement AND provides the action items necessary to remedy it, then the results should be shared with as many levels of management as possible. Sharing the results is the only way to improve the situation across the entire organization. If the survey process itself is fully automated, then this should not be a problem at all and would make sharing the results as easy as clicking a button. *

Conduct Engagement Surveys Annually:

If an engagement survey is formatted properly, offers a clear degree of engagement and offers actionable items for increasing engagement, then it just makes sense that management has timely versions to refer to. Some companies even find it beneficial to conduct very short engagement surveys semi-annually in order to have timely data and to gauge the effects of engagement initiatives.

Set Engagement Improvement Goals:

After you have conducted your first engagement survey, you should have a handle on the status of employee engagement across each department and the organization as a whole. Use these results to set measurable engagement goals that managers and the organization are expected to reach. Accountability will help to ensure that a company’s leaders at every level are committed to improving engagement.

* Included within emPerform is an eSurvey module that allows organizations to quickly create, distribute, and analyze web-based surveys. Also available with emPerform is a library of best-practice survey questions for all surveys types.