How to Create an Employee Engagement Survey that's Perfect for your Organisation

27 April 2022 | 5 Minute
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How to Create an Employee Engagement Survey that's Perfect for your Organisation

‘The dynamic between employee and employer is changing, and now employees are starting to become more vocal about their needs.

Workday Peakon Employee Voice platform

An employee engagement survey is a fantastic way to gain a true insight into engagement levels in your organisation. Not only do they let management know how employees view the company they also make employees feel valued because they are being asked to give their feedback. In addition, there's so much we can learn from survey results even when employees don't complete the survey. For example, Facebook found that those individuals who didn't fill out either of the two annual surveys were 2.6 times more likely to leave the company in six months.

But surveys require precise planning and implementation; otherwise, you risk wasting time and resources and potentially making employees feel disengaged. So, here's your guide to everything you need to know to carry out an employee engagement survey that’s perfect for your organisation. 


Why are employee engagement surveys important?

Employee engagement surveys are an important way of measuring how your people feel about many aspects of their employment. However, although it might be possible to feel engagement levels in a team or company, it's also possible to misjudge engagement or think it's better or worse than it actually is.

Such surveys allow you to get a complete picture of how all your employees are feeling. They allow for honest feedback, insights you may not have imagined, and an account of engagement across different teams, grades and demographics, etc.

Surveys don’t just need to be done if your company is in crisis or if you know engagement is low. They can often identify issues before they get out of hand and can send a positive message to your people that they are valued, and you care about their feedback.


Do employee engagement surveys work?

Employee engagement surveys comprise various questions relating to different areas across the organisation. So, for example, it's likely that you would ask people about their view of management, but also you would ask them about their opinions on other aspects of working life, including pay and benefits, learning and development, communication, and leadership.

Surveys will collect qualitative and quantitative feedback by asking a combination of differently structured questions.


How do you start to plan for an employee engagement survey?

Before you start planning questions, you need your senior leadership team to be committed to measuring engagement and making changes depending on the results. If you don't have this buy-in from the top, then it's likely that other managers won't be committed, and action plans will never occur.

Leaders then need to plan the survey’s objectives, discuss timelines for implementing the survey and assessing feedback and consider what support can be given to line managers to help them communicate the purpose and process. There also needs to be consideration as to how the survey will be communicated to employees across the organisation.


How long should an employee engagement survey be?

There's no set length that an employee engagement survey should be as it’s likely to be different for every organisation. Questions may be specific to something that has recently occurred; for example, if there's been a recent acquisition or merger, the survey may focus entirely on that. Or,  it could be that the goal is to measure employee engagement across the company in general.

If you use an external company or technology to create the survey, there will be guidance on what to include in the survey. This is useful as it acts as a guide on what other companies are doing, and question banks are helpful to let you design your survey.

If you've done one before, you may simply repeat the questions you’ve used in the past to compare responses, or you may decide to do more regular, unusually shorter pulse surveys.

How can you encourage employees to complete surveys?

It's difficult to say how many employees will complete surveys in a company, but there are some things you can do to try and increase the participation rate:

  • Keep the survey simple and reasonably short because if it takes too long to complete, employees may give up midway through, or a colleague might tell them it takes ages to complete, so don't give them any reason not to finish it!
  • Give them adequate time to complete the survey.
  • Ensure they receive reminders to complete it, and if it's something they can do on an app anywhere, they may be more likely to participate.
  • Be clear with them when you first communicate the survey details and again when they start to complete the survey, whether it's anonymous and how their results will be used.
  • Consider the demographics of those in your company. For example, it's unlikely that anyone would be identifiable through their responses in larger organisations. However, in a smaller team individuals may be identifiable if they are asked to give their age range or gender.
  • Similarly, consider cultural differences such as language if you carry out the same survey across different countries.


What makes a good employee engagement survey?

A good employee engagement survey should include a range of different questions about varied aspects of the workplace and include a mix of open and closed questions. This way, data can be collected for specific business areass and allow employees to give honest and open feedback.

Questions should be in no way leading or discriminatory. It should be clear that all information employees give will be confidential and seen only by HR or the company running the survey.

The right questions can help your company gain credible and genuine insights and make improvements. The wrong ones will just waste time and do nothing to help your company evolve.

Examples of open employee engagement surveys questions include (but of course, there are many more!):

  • How do you feel about your job today?
  • What do you enjoy about your work environment?
  • What would you change about your job if you could?

Closed questions might include:

  • Do you feel valued by your organisation?
  • Do you think that you receive enough feedback from your manager?
  • Would you recommend your organisation to your friends?


How do you communicate a survey?

Ideally, those running the employee engagement survey project will communicate the details and purpose of the survey as early as possible. However, employees may be wary of why this is happening now or what it will entail, especially if the company hasn't done one before. This is why open communication is vital, so the employees know how the results will be used, whether it will be anonymous, and what the organisation plans to do with the information.

To consistently communicate the same message and detail, such information should come from senior management, line managers, and HRs.

For more insider tricks and tips, you can also refer to our latest blog on How to Communicate Your Employee Satisfaction Surveys More Effectively?


How to interpret employee engagement survey results

Unsurprisingly, well-planned surveys should have higher participation rates and produce plenty of information and data to analyse. This can be daunting, so it takes expertise and can take a lot of time and interpretation.

If you use survey software, then interpretation and analysis will be easier and quicker, allowing you to find trends and patterns that can be used to start preparing details around key issues and action plans.

When the results are in, you'll need to create analytics reports and see how the results compare to the original survey objectives. This way, you can see if the areas of concern are as bad as you thought or if there are areas you thought were okay but aren’t so good in reality.

Once again, senior management needs to commit the time to review the results and ensure that they don't try and fix every single issue or take it too personally when results aren't positive. Ideally, the top issues, or at least the ones that can realistically be improved, should be committed to an action plan and communicated with line managers.

Senior management must give line managers the results for their team and discuss them in-depth, so it's not just a tick box exercise of passing them over as accountability for actions needs to come from the top.


Using employee engagement survey software

Although you could design and create the employee engagement survey in-house, outsourcing this to a survey software provider may be more time and cost-effective. In addition, such providers will be experts in designing and implementing surveys and will be able to offer set questions or let you add your own.

They can also help with participation rates by sending reminders to employees and sending surveys directly to employee mobiles to make it easier for employees to complete the survey anywhere and at any time. In addition, the results will be held in one place, allowing you to analyse the engagement variables to see what is affecting performance levels.


It’s not worth cutting corners if you’ve decided to conduct an employee engagement survey. To get the most out of your survey, you will need to take time to plan your objectives and questions and ensure that the questions are related to what you want to achieve! It’s not just about sending the survey out; it’s essential to analyse data, create actions and follow through thoroughly. If you don’t do anything with the results, it could be a counterproductive exercise, and the last thing you want to do is disengage your people when you’re trying to engage them.

Sorwe provides the tools you need to assess, evaluate, and improve employee engagement. Please get in touch with us to learn more about how Sorwe solutions can help you improve your employee engagement practices and create an employee engagement survey.

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