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Blog Post

How to Get the Most Out of Your Engagement Survey

By Tim Petron, Principal

How do I get the most out of our engagement survey? In one way or another, this is the most common question we get on engagement surveys and for good reason. Considering the hard and soft costs of the team’s time planning, taking, and following up on the survey, the total cost can exceed $200,000 for 5,000-person organization. So, how do organizations get the most out of their engagement survey? Let’s look at two statistics.

That is a startling difference. The difference between the 22% who generate good results and the remaining 78% that do not often comes down to the mindset used in the survey process.

Many organizations and leaders view their engagement survey process as a ruler to measure engagement. Some measure to establish a baseline while others to check on progress or shifts in culture. However, some organizations view their survey process more like a walkie-talkie, where information is shared to improve the organization.

By viewing engagement surveys as opportunities to move the organization forward, it converts the survey process from being another corporate initiative to an act of engaging the team itself. This mindset shift of how the survey will be used can have far-reaching effects on the impact of the survey. In the end, we run a survey to improve the organization, not just take a measurement. With that in mind, we identified three critical elements in the engagement survey process.

  1. Be explicit in the purpose of the survey

Ultimately, organizations want their team members’ responses to be honest, transparent, and actionable. So, set an example with how you announce the survey.

  • Begin with identifying the clear and compelling reason why the survey is being used. Are you preparing for a new phase of growth in the business? Are you wanting to understand how COVID-19 has impacted the business beyond the financials? Whatever it is, the reason becomes the central theme of all subsequent communications.
  • The initial communication should also include how the team will access the survey, how the process will protect their confidentiality and the importance of their participation. Send the survey announcement a minimum of two weeks before the survey launch.
  • As part of the communication plan, brief the leaders first and prepare them for how to answer questions from the team. This will support a good response rate and set the stage for the conversation. It says to employees, we are listening and your opinion matters.
  1. Ask direct questions that drive ROI

The questions should be plain language, short and direct. Watch out for compound questions such as, “Do you have the time and resources you need to be successful?” Which is it: time or resources? Instead, try “I have the time I need to do my job well.” This question makes a difference for the individual and the business. If it scores low, the individual is likely frustrated and the business suffers. When you take action to address the issue, engagement is boosted in the team member and helps the bottom line. Walt Disney may have said it best; “The front line is the bottom line.”

  1. Train people to provide and receive feedback

Engagement surveys can be an emotionally driven event when leaders see how they are viewed by team members. When you train participants and leaders to actively engage and act on the results, it builds trust in the team and helps the business. For participants, provide examples of what constitutes actionable responses to the open-ended questions. For leaders, it is easy to want to dismiss or explain away the results. However, this does little to generate value and may actually do more harm if the team expresses a concern and it is ignored. Instead, train the leaders on three areas. First, how to talk about the results with their team. Second, how to use empathetic listening skills to advance the conversation and build trust. Third, how to take action and make improvements.

Instead of just measuring, use your survey to engage your organization. It can be the difference of whether your organization will fall in the 22% that generate good results vs. the 78% that do not.

For more information on Chapman & Co.’s Organizational Culture and DEI Survey, please click here or contact us




















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