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

Our last post offered the DO’s of creating and executing employee engagement surveys. This post will continue on and discuss what you should avoid when executing engagement surveys. Again, Effron and Ort (Authors of ‘One Page Talent Management’) have outlined the following points:


Use too much detail when reporting the results:

Using complicated and overly detailed descriptive statistics might be extremely useful for you to gain insight but it might completely deter or confuse managers and leaders. You should aim to present the survey results to leaders in a simple way that will guide them to take action.

Rely too much on meetings and focus groups:

This is a really great point because it might seem instinctive to ask as many people as possible for suggested ways to plan and execute engagement strategies (after all, employees and leaders know what would increase their own engagement); however, by relying solely on meetings and groups, you run the risk of leaving out a big piece of the picture. Groups might not be representative of the entire company, people might withhold information, and meetings can be rendered useless due to group think. Don’t get me wrong, meetings and groups should be conducted, but they should be held to provide clarity on results obtained by the surveys and not as a platform to plan overall strategy. In the end, a properly executed engagement survey will provide more than enough quantitative, representative data to plan engagement strategies.

Include Open-Ended Questions:

Comment boxes may seem like they provide insightful feedback; however, Effron and Ort argue that they distract managers from the reliable, quantitative data, and the results themselves are extremely biased. Managers should only be given facts that results in actions to increase engagement. Open-ended questions do provide an outlet for employees to express themselves and oftentimes comments go off on tangents unrelated to engagement.  Instead of putting that outlet in an engagement survey, make sure employees are aware of other mediums to express their thoughts or comments.

Stray from engagement-related questions:

There are probably tons of things that you are curious to know and would like to include in the survey but if you ask non-engagement related questions, you are straying from the goal, detracting from the value of the survey, and probably confusing managers. Keep this survey just for engagement and ask any other necessary questions in another, unrelated employee survey.

Not share the results:

I have to admit, this point just echoes one of the DO’s in my last post but I think it is such an important point that it deserves to be reiterated. Simply put: unless the results (and action-items) fall into the hands of leaders and managers that can execute them, the survey itself is useless to the organization.

The DO’s and DON’Ts that I have mentioned are high-level guidelines to use when planning to create and execute engagement surveys. There are many other things that should be considered such as reporting type, survey frequency, question formatting across departments, etc. These factors will differ greatly across organizations; however, the one thing that will remain true for all organizations is that any survey that is automated is easier to create, execute and report on. Online survey tools will allow you to begin an effective engagement strategy without having to spend copious amounts of time printing, collecting, reminding, and entering values into Excel. Also, if you are lucky enough to have an automated employee performance management solution (like emPerform), then you probably have a library of best-practice engagement survey questions that you can draw from.