As leaders interact with their employees, they get a sense of how their people are feeling and how committed they are to their jobs – but those instincts may not always be accurate. That’s why it’s not enough to rely on intuition or vibes to measure employee enthusiasm, connection, and motivation. Instead, you can (and should) collect real data with an employee engagement survey.
An employee engagement survey will give you the numbers and insights you need to drive effective decision-making. By comparing your latest survey results with data from previous surveys, you can track changes in engagement over time.
What do employee engagement surveys measure?
First of all, what is employee engagement? It’s a metric that represents how employees feel about their organization, including how motivated they are to put in extra effort on the job and how committed they are to staying with the company.
While employee engagement may feel like a nebulous concept, engagement surveys can help you translate these abstract employee sentiments into actual insights that you can act on. Effective employee engagement survey questions focus on key outcomes of engagement (what we call the Employee Engagement Index), as captured in the following questions:
Pride: “I am proud to work for [Company]”
Recommendation: “I would recommend [Company] as a great place to work”
Present commitment: “I rarely think about looking for a job at another company”
Future commitment: “I see myself still working at [company] in two years’ time”
Motivation: “[Company] motivates me to go beyond what I would in a similar role elsewhere”
All in all, an employee engagement survey will consist of 50-60 questions covering both the Employee Engagement Index as well as the four main drivers of engagement: leadership, enablement, alignment, and development. Employees are typically asked to respond using a five-point scale measuring their level of agreement with a statement (Strongly agree, Agree, Neither agree nor disagree, Disagree, and Strongly disagree). These surveys often also include open-ended questions or a comment section to allow for more specific feedback.
6 benefits of employee engagement surveys
There’s a reason employee engagement surveys are one of the most common types of employee surveys – they provide valuable insights into an organization’s strengths and areas of opportunity. After holding an engagement survey, your organization will likely reap many benefits.
Below, we share the 6 most common benefits of holding an employee engagement survey:
1. You’ll understand how your employees feel about the company and their work.
You can’t manage what you can’t measure. You may think you know what’s working and what isn’t at your organization, but an engagement survey will give a concrete measure of your employees’ feelings about various aspects of the employee experience. You’ll get data on not only your company’s overall engagement score but also specific insights into what is driving engagement at your company.
Plus, by collecting data on engagement over time, you can see whether specific changes or interventions are leading to measurable improvements in engagement scores, ultimately helping you take some of the guesswork out of improving employee engagement.
2. You’ll be able to take effective action on the highest-opportunity areas of improvement.
Engagement surveys can help you pinpoint the highest impact areas of opportunity within the employee experience. In general, if scores are low for a particular aspect of the employee experience (i.e., communication), then it’s a good bet that’s where you should focus your efforts.
Moreover, some employee engagement tools include more sophisticated, built-in analytics tools for identifying focus areas. These tools can help companies cut through the noise generated by the thousands of data points that result from an employee survey – making it far simpler to identify what you should focus on to most meaningfully move the needle on engagement.
3. They’re an opportunity to show employees that you’re listening – and you care.
When an employee fills out an engagement survey, they’re making an effort to share their feelings with you. When you respond to and act on their feedback, you are essentially demonstrating to them that you value them and their input. It’s understandably frustrating to be asked to give feedback only to repeatedly find that nothing is changing within the organization.
You can show employees that you care by:
Sharing survey results within a few weeks of the survey
- Openly communicating how leadership is planning on taking action on employee survey results and relaying progress over time
- Organizing deeper dives into engagement survey results by department and/or team
- Hosting small group discussions to explore the results
When an organization makes changes based on engagement survey results, employees see that their feedback is having an impact. This motivates them to participate in future surveys and builds their connection to the company, making them more likely to stick around.
4. You’ll strengthen your culture.
Engagement surveys also allow you to see how people feel about your company’s culture. You can use surveys to assess how well employees align with different elements of the culture and determine if you want to take action to emphasize certain values or goals.
Moreover, while people typically think of surveys as a way to gather feedback, they can also be a way to convey information. The questions you ask and the language you use to ask them reinforce your company’s values and priorities. Writing survey questions with this in mind can make the survey feel more personal and relevant while reminding your employees of the organizational mission behind their work.
5. You’ll be able to see where the company stands overall.
By leveraging external benchmarks to contextualize your employee engagement survey results, you can understand how your company stacks up against your competitors. When you use the right benchmarks (i.e., same industry, company size, geographic region, etc.), you get an accurate sense-check of how well your company performs compared to similar companies. Moreover, benchmarks serve as a baseline for a “good” or “bad” engagement score – making it easier for you to understand whether or not you need to worry about a particular aspect of your employee experience.
6. You can use the results to improve business outcomes.
Employee engagement has a powerful impact on your company’s bottom line, and the results of your employee engagement survey provide insights you can use to guide strategic decision-making as you move forward.
Multi-year research from Gallup has connected employee engagement with performance outcomes, including customer loyalty, profitability, productivity, and employee wellbeing. For example, a 2021 report found that highly engaged teams are 14-18% more productive than teams with low engagement.
Even if your survey results show that your engagement numbers aren’t where you want them to be, that’s valuable information. You may be able to use those findings to get buy-in from leadership on strategies to improve engagement, such as increasing access to learning and development opportunities. For example, Culture Amp data shows that companies that focus on L&D have employees that are 14.6% more engaged than those who don’t.
Make the most of your next employee engagement survey
While employee engagement surveys offer many benefits, you’ll gain the most from these surveys by asking the right questions, using science-backed survey tools to evaluate employee responses, and taking action based on what you learn.
Culture Amp's employee engagement tools provide powerful insights, create a culture of accountability, and deliver data you can trust. From customizable survey templates and reports to proven action planning and benchmarking, this easy-to-use platform will help you increase retention, boost engagement, and drive meaningful change.