Employee engagement surveys

09 July 2019

From time to time, employers need to assess how their staff members feel about their work. Employee engagement surveys can help you gain valuable feedback so you can get to the root of any issues within your business.

Creating an employee engagement survey can help you gain actionable insights. These can help you measure how motivated employees are and help to improve satisfaction.

In this guide, we will look at why engagement surveys are important, how to conduct one and how they can lead to business success.

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is the emotional commitment an employee has to an organisation and its goals. Put simply - it's how devoted a member of staff is to the work that they do.

Engaged employees care about their role within a business and are committed to creating a positive company culture.

Employee engagement is not the same as employee satisfaction or happiness. However, an engaged workplace often has happier employees that remain productive all year round.

three people having a meeting

Why is employee engagement important?

When employees are engaged they are more likely to go the extra mile without being asked. Their engagement will often drive their performance which can put your business ahead of other competitors.

Businesses with high levels of employee engagement are often rewarded with increased sales and higher customer satisfaction. This is because staff are willing to go above and beyond and provide customers with excellent service.

Engaged employees are able to look at their role and understand how it fits within the business. This awareness of their responsibilities can lead to better decision making and even fewer safety incidents

What is an employee engagement survey?

An employee engagement survey is a method of measuring how engaged your team members are with their roles and the business as a whole. They usually consist of survey questions specifically chosen to collect employee feedback on a range of topics.

They are a great way for employers to gauge how employees feel about everything from company culture to personal growth and career development opportunities.

Engagement surveys can help you learn more about the employee experience. Survey results can be used by senior management to enact change within your business. This can help to improve employee retention and lower future hiring costs.

Why do you businesses use employee engagement surveys?

Businesses use employee engagement surveys to get a good understanding of how their employees feel about their current role. They help employers measure the connection employees have towards their work, team and organisation.

An in depth survey can help ensure that your leadership team and staff are on the same page. And if not they work as a blueprint to help you enact real change within your business.

They also allow staff to provide constructive feedback quickly and efficiently without the use of focus groups or face to face interviews.

Extensive research can help you discover the main drivers of engagement and how you can improve internal communication and job satisfaction.

How do you measure employee engagement?

As an employer, you need to understand that how you send an employee engagement survey matters.

You may choose to send larger annual surveys, or you could send out shorter series of questions at regular intervals. Both will help you measure your employee engagement levels.

There are pros and cons to both methods. Shorter, more frequent employee surveys (known as 'pulse surveys') can help you create a tailored list of specific survey questions. However, frequent sends could lead to survey fatigue and a drop in survey response rate.

Larger annual surveys may result in higher survey participation. This is because employees are only required to get involved once a year. The method you choose will depend on the size of your organisation and your required survey responses.

How you conduct an employee engagement survey also matters. These can be done in house and could be handwritten or sent via email.

Employee engagement survey software is also available. A survey provider may also be able to sort and analyse the data from your employee survey. This can help identify trends and enact improvements more effectively.

Should an employee survey be anonymous?

When conducting an employee engagement survey, you may want to know who submitted what response.

However, anonymity can allow staff to provide more truthful responses which can lead to better survey results. Many employees can feel anxious answering survey questions, especially if they know that they will be read by organisational leaders.

You may find that some of your staff strongly disagree with current organisational values or even the organisation's vision. Staff may worry that voicing these opinions could affect their future career development.

Although this should never be the case, anonymity can eliminate unconscious bias. This means that team members provide honest and open feedback to help improve company culture, without being concerned about the effect it may have on their future.

 A manager giving a presentation to her employees

What are some useful employee engagement survey questions?

While the method you use to send your survey is important, ultimately the value lies in your choice of questions.

When selecting your employee engagement survey questions, you need to consider your main overall objective. Speak to senior leaders and ask what issues they are hearing from their teams.

Employee engagement surveys should cover three main topics:

  • Employee satisfaction.
  • Workplace culture and alignment.
  • Career advancement.

Employee satisfaction

Although satisfaction and employee engagement are not the same thing, they are closely aligned.

While happy and satisfied employees are easy to spot, identifying dissatisfied or frustrated team members can be a challenge. And if not addressed, you may find yourself facing unexpected resignations from valued employees.

How do you feel when you come to work?

This question is a great way to directly address the issue and opens up a broader conversation on the topic. While you may get a few grumbles about the morning commute, this question assesses your employee's general attitude to work.

It can also help identify if there is a particular group or role where people are the most unhappy. A sliding scale or range of graphics depicting different emotions can help your employees better express how they are feeling. You can still provide a section for optional comments but images may make it easier for employees to express how they feel without judgment.

Would you recommend your friends to work here?

Recruitment is one of the biggest challenges that employers face. Your employees are a huge word of mouth resource that is capable of reaching a large and diverse range of demographics.

Such questions can tell you a lot about your organisation's culture. If your employees would rather their friends steered clear of you as an employer, then you know something is definitely wrong with your company's cultural values.

Do you enjoy working with your team?

Employee engagement is contagious. So if your engagement survey shows that one team is falling behind the rest then you know something needs to be done to fix it.

This survey question can help you identify if there are any weak links or recurring problems that are making life difficult. The problem may be pretty self explanatory, like an employee having issues with their line manager. However, if not you may need to investigate the issue further to see how you can increase engagement.

Are you satisfied with your current compensation and benefits?

Perks and pay are not the only way to keep employees happy. But, if members of your team feel that they are underpaid, they are likely to show lower levels of engagement. They may also seek new employment elsewhere which can affect employee turnover.

If a pay rise isn't in your budget, ask employees what other benefits they would enjoy. Your employees should be able to provide you with a few tips to help keep them happy and satisfied in their role.

Workplace culture and alignment

Alignment questions are a valuable part of an employee engagement survey. They create a great contrast to the personal questions and allow you compare how an employee's personal feelings affect their workplace engagement.

Do you find your work meaningful?

Employees who find their work meaningful, work harder and are usually happier. They are also more likely to remain resilient when faced with challenges.

Employees with high levels of engagement see the impact of their work and align themselves closely with an organisation's values.

Do you feel like your supervisor is invested in your development?

Your employees should be engaged at all levels - from upper management all the way down to lower level staff members. Questions like this can help you spot weakness in your line management system.

If employees don't feel that their managers are invested in their career aspirations, it can be hard for them to engage with their work. You can also implement new training courses based on the answers provided by staff.

Do you think leadership is invested in fostering a positive company culture?

Survey questions like this can help you gauge whether your employees share the same values as your organisation. If your engagement survey finds that employees strongly disagree with this, it's likely that your business is failing to provide an inclusive and representative culture.

This can have a huge impact on employee engagement leading to unhappy and unmotivated team members.

Employee smiling during a meeting

Career advancement

High employee turnover is bad for business. Hiring costs time and money that could be better spent elsewhere. Using employee engagement surveys can help you manage this.

If you can spot the early signs of unhappy employees, you can try to fix the issues before staff decide to leave.

Do you see yourself working here in a year?

This question can help you gauge how serious a problem employee engagement is for your company. If you find that a large portion of your workforce are considering leaving your organisation you need to investigate why.

To measure employee engagement, allow staff to expand on their answer. It may not be an issue with you or your business and could be external factors. Either way, this survey question can help you to get a clear answer to better understand how serious of a problem you may be facing.

What are your career goals?

Using open ended questions as part of your survey can help your employees to express what is really on their mind. Asking employees specifically about their personal career goals can help you develop your current training opportunities to better support staff.

Do you receive enough support in your career development?

If your staff feel as if there is little room for them to develop it's likely that they're disengaged from the company as a whole.

This question can help you to evaluate your current available resources. If your current development schemes aren't being considered as useful, use employee feedback to adapt and improve.

How to improve employee engagement

Employee engagement surveys can only help you identify issues within your business. It's up to you to take these results and put them into action to improve engagement.

The following steps can help you create your own employee engagement survey and improve employee relations.

Recognise and reward hard work

Rewarding hard work can go a long way. Not only can it improve motivation but it can also inspire others to reach their own personal targets

Consider implementing a scheme that rewards staff when they hit their goals. Or make your appreciation known by publicly acknowledging employees that go above and beyond.

Invest in your employees

When analysing the results of employee engagement surveys you need to consider where your staff are in the employee lifecycle.

If you find that you have many talented staff members that are considering leaving, now may be the time to take action. Investing in your employees shows that your staff are important to your business.

Focus on employee wellbeing

Employee engagement and employee wellbeing are closely linked. It's much easier for an employee to engage in their work when an organisation makes an effort to support them.

Employee Assistance Programs can help to facilitate this. EAPs can provide support and guidance on everything from financial worries to general health concerns meaning employees can take time to focus on the job at hand.

Encourage feedback year round

Things change quickly in business. That's why it's important to encourage staff to give feedback to their line managers as soon as issues arise.

But this isn't a one-way street. Employees often crave feedback as it helps them to develop and improve. Consider implementing frequent one to ones between staff and line managers. This open communication policy can have a real effect on employee engagement trends.

Get help from Peninsula with managing employee engagement surveys

Employee engagement surveys are a great way to gain valuable insight into your workforce. Measuring how engaged your employees are can help you to pinpoint areas to improve and help to keep your staff motivated.

Creating a survey isn't an exact science. But with regular use you can create a tool that provides valuable insight.

Peninsula's team of experts offer valuable advice on creating an engagement survey. Book a free consultation with one of our HR consultants today. Call 0800 028 2420.

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