How to run effective Employee Engagement Surveys?

Employee engagement surveys are an integral part of employee engagement activities that are organized in large organizations. They invest a significant amount of their time, energy and resources in curating their engagement surveys to drive their team’s productivity and performance. But despite all their efforts, it has been observed that many engagement surveys do not yield the desired outcome.

According to Gallup’s report, it is estimated that 80% of employees believe that surveys do not lead to any substantial improvement or change within the organization. It is also interesting to note that only 30% of the employees actually respond to surveys.

If executed correctly, employee engagement surveys can be one of the effective tools for companies to build upon their strengths and find a competitive edge in the market. Unlike other surveys, employee engagement survey is not just about putting together a set of questions and giving it out to employees to answer. It’s about creating a survey that in itself engages the employees in an organisation and brings value.

Hence, it is important for companies to strategize and curate their engagement surveys in a way that aids quantitative and qualitative measurement of engagement and also provides clear indicators to aspects of the business that need attention. It should also help the top management and leaders to understand the morale of the workforce to help them drive motivation and productivity in their teams.

Before a company decides to conduct a survey, it’s important to keep a few things in perspective and build a strong survey strategy around these.

  1. Starting Point– a good starting point to conduct an engagement survey is to create awareness among employees regarding the importance of the survey and requesting honest feedback and opinions. Every individual must feel valued and assured that their feedback would be adding to the growth of the organization. They must also have clear communication regarding the timelines, tasks and value of the survey being conducted.
  2. End Goal– it is important for an organisation to know the objectives of conducting an engagement survey. While the organisation may have many points, all of which cannot be done in a single survey, these objectives must be arranged in an order of priority based on what affects the business most and require immediate attention.

For example, if the company has recently gone through a merger or acquisition, the cultural and leadership differences will be a priority as it can have adverse effects on employees and could cause major fluctuation in the functioning of the business and the profits.

  1. Timelines– every survey strategy must answer a few essential questions regarding timelines like:
  1. a)How often will the survey be conducted?
  2. b)How much time would an employee require during each survey cycle to complete the survey?
  3. c)How long would it take to carry out study and analysis of results?
  4. d)What is the timeline decided by HR or top management to implement the action points?


  1. Structure – it is very important to design the surveys in a way that is simple, clear and employees don’t feel burdened to allocate extra time to undertake these surveys.

29% employees think that surveys in a workplace are pointless activities that take away their productive time and 20% of surveys remain incomplete if they take more than 7-8 minutes according to a study by Gallup.

Also, surveys with either too many numbers or alternatively too many words are not well received by employees. Survey designers must make sure it’s a healthy mix of both quantitative and qualitative questions. Employees are more likely to give honest feedbacks when questions are likely to maintain their anonymity. Hence, it becomes important to understand demographics in terms of team sizes, culture and trends while compiling the questions.

  1. Communication – Communicate to the employees the 5Ws (who, what, when, where and why) clearly with regard to the survey. Surveys must always be a part of continuous processes in an organisation and must not come as a surprise. When employees understand the need and reason for a survey clearly, they are more likely to answer it openly and thoroughly.
  2. Result Discussion – one of the most important aspects of an employee engagement survey is how the result is shared and interpreted. The best way to share the data once it has been analysed and tabulated is to share it with smaller teams which include managers with their direct reports.

All managers must be trained to facilitate discussion and create an effective action plan. A major problem faced by many organisations here is that most often managers and leaders make this discussion a medium to find out individual feedbacks and reasons for unimpressive scores if any. This would take away the whole purpose of an effective survey and only be counterproductive in the sense that employee will turn resistant to any further surveys as it would appear as a threat to their anonymity.




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