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Tips for drafting your employee engagement survey

‘Employee engagement’ is an increasingly used expression in many organisations and yet there is no single definition of what this term actually means.  It generally refers to a win-win working arrangement in which the employer provides the right conditions for employees to feel motivated to actively work towards the organisation’s success.

When there is high employee engagement, members of staff will typically go above and beyond the remit of their job description, something that is referred to as ‘discretionary effort’.  Employee engagement is therefore a quality to be nurtured within an organisation and companies will often carry out surveys to establish the level of engagement within the workforce.

This article covers the five tips to bear in mind when drafting your survey.

1. Ensure that you measure not only the level of employee engagement itself but those factors contributing towards it

Employee engagement is typically measured by examining factors such as: the employees’ pride in the company; their desire to stay; how likely they are to recommend the company to others and their motivation to go the ‘extra mile’.

However, there’s no point in measuring this in isolation: if you have a low employee engagement score then you won’t know what changes you need to make; similarly, if you obtain a high employee engagement score then you won’t know what aspects are highly valued by your employees.  You could inadvertently make changes that could have a negative impact on your engagement score.

Your survey should include questions on the factors driving employee engagement such as training and development, career progression, immediate management, performance feedback, communication, fair treatment, pay and benefits and job satisfaction.

In this way, you will be able to determine where there is a correlation between your engagement drivers and your overall engagement score.

2. Make your survey easy to complete

In order to draw conclusions from your survey, you need to obtain responses from a sufficient number of employees.  Generally, internal surveys receive a response rate of between 30-40% and to help achieve this, you need to ensure that your survey is not constructed in such a way that inhibits people from completing it.

Factors to consider are:

    • The length of the survey: the longer your survey is, the less likely it is that an employee will complete it.  You need to be able to strike the right balance between asking a sufficient number of questions in order to draw robust conclusions and not asking so many that employees are put off from finishing it.
    • The wording of the questions: the questions themselves should be unambiguous and written in plain English.  Any terms should be clearly defined to ensure participants are clear on exactly what is being asked.
    • How employees respond: you should ensure that employees are able to respond as easily as possible. The most common way method is through the use of a Likert scale which is used to allow the individual to express how much they agree or disagree with a particular statement.

 3. Only ask questions around topics you are willing to act on

If staff respond negatively to questions around a particular topic, such as employee benefits, and you do nothing to address this issue, then this it is likely to reduce employee engagement considerably.  Effectively, you’ve ignored your employees’ response.

Similarly, poorly drafted questions can prevent you from solving any problems that are highlighted.  For instance, if you receive a poor response to the question “My line manager is trustworthy”, will you be able to ascertain what particular issues are causing this level of distrust amongst your employees?  Is it because line managers  are not sharing information?  They are unfair in the treatment of their subordinates? The don’t provide adequate feedback? Etc.

Instead draft questions which give you an idea of the action that can be taken to fix it.  For example, if you received a negative response to the statement “My line manager shares with me information affecting the business”, you would have a better understanding of the interventions that might be necessary to resolve this issue.

4. Staff forums

Once you have analysed the findings of the questionnaire, we’d recommend holding a series of staff forums involving a cross-section of the employees questioned.  This would typically involve a discussion around the top positive and negative drivers found and any suggested actions that could be taken.  Such meetings can reveal valuable insights that would otherwise be missed if looking at the data in isolation.

5. Follow up

Quite often employee engagement surveys are carried out, the results analysed and then nothing more happens.  This is a wasted opportunity.  Instead it’s advisable to create a series of action points to implement.  Once these initiatives have had a chance to embed, the engagement survey should be repeated to see if they have had the desired effect.  Such surveys should be repeated yearly so that you are continually working towards achieving a more engaged workforce.

FitzgeraldHR are experienced at designing and analysing employee engagement surveys.  If this is an area where we can support your business, then don’t hesitate to contact us on 01271 859 267 or email us on office@fitzgeraldhr.co.uk.