How to run an employee engagement survey

TL;DR: Employee engagement surveys consist of sending out a set of questions to get employee feedback on any topic. The answers will allow you to gauge your people’s motivation and frustrations, unearthing areas for improvement. Your team will feel heard and you’ll have the insights you need to take the right actions to boost their happiness, performance, and retention. Everyone wins.

What is an employee engagement survey?

Also known as employee satisfaction surveys and organizational feedback, engagement surveys are a tool used by organizations to assess the level of engagement and satisfaction in employees. The purpose is to gain insights from employees regarding their perception and attitude towards their work and the organization as a whole. An engagement survey usually covers multiple aspects that affect engagement including job satisfaction, communication, leadership, career development, work-life balance, and organizational culture.

Are surveys an effective way to measure employee engagement?

Engagement surveys offer one of the best ways to measure employee enagagement. In fact, even the simple act of engaging with a survey can be an indicator of positive sentiment from employees.  Facebook recently looked into employee survey data and found that employees that had missed either of the two biannual surveys were 2.6 times more likely to leave their company in the next six months.

By collecting and interpreting data from multiple rounds of surveys, you can develop actions to increase performance, satisfaction, and reduce turnover and absenteeism. You can also surface the positives and discover your Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS), benchmarking your results against other companies.

Long story short, well-designed employee engagement surveys are your best bet to predict behavior and discover how to transform your company culture into a humane environment of high performance in which people thrive. These surveys are most transformative when you aim beyond simply measuring engagement and instead focus on improving engagement. What’s more, organizational feedback can strengthen your company’s values and make everyone accountable to live up to them.

Now that you know just how useful employee engagement surveys are, we’ll show you how to set them up.

‍The benefits of effective surveys for engaged employees

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Your employees might be more disengaged than you think. A recent Leapsome report showed that 95% of HR respondents believe employees are at least somewhat engaged at work, while conversely, 58% of employees report that they are actually somewhat disengaged. 

  1. Better decision making - Surveys provide valuable data that can inform decision-making. In fact, according to a survey of more than 1,000 senior executives conducted by PwC, highly data-driven organizations are three times more likely to report significant improvements in decision-making compared to those who rely less on data. 
  2. Building trust - Through surveys employees feel heard and valued. They see that their opinions can affect change and shharing results with your team builds additional trust and sparks conversations for change
  3. Retention - By identifying engagement drivers and improving working conditions employers can effectively retain their top talent
  4. Higher productivity - Engagement surveys can saprk change in employees: Facebook found that if they asked 30 % of their employees wether they were committed to improving their work experience, they became 12% more likely to request additional tooling to become more productive.
  5. Improved culture - Apart from establishing a culture of feedback engagement surveys specifically ask employees on how they perceive and would like to improve company culture. This surfaces ideas for initiatives 
  6. Well-being - Surveys can reveal how employees are doing and feeling inside and outside of the workplace. Asking questions on their work-life balance can reveal underlying issues that might take a toll on their mental health.

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Wann Sie dieses Playbook verwenden sollten

When to use
this playbook

You can use employee engagement surveys to gather data as a one-off questionnaire or as a recurring People Ops process. Ideally, you’ll run frequent surveys to measure how responses change over time.

The most common frequency would be monthly or quarterly; this is usually determined by the survey's scope, as explained below.

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Was Sie für dieses Playbook benötigen

What you’ll need for
this playbook

A defined survey goal

Do you want to have a broader overview of overall engagement, or would you like to focus on specific areas (e.g., diversity, equity, and inclusion topics)? Are there hypotheses you’d like to test?

A defined audience

Do you want to send out engagement surveys to all employees or only to a specific department?

Hinweise & Tipps
  • Surveys should be anonymous, and your employees must know that their privacy is protected (so ensure that happens). Otherwise, you would risk insincere responses — or no responses at all.
  • One-off surveys can be relevant to address specific situations, but investing in recurring surveys communicates that your interest in employee satisfaction is not a one-time effort.
  • To avoid survey fatigue, we recommend a lower frequency for long recurrent surveys. To show consistency, avoid changing survey frequency too many times.
  • Don’t overwhelm your team with a survey that is too extensive. If running a recurrent survey, rotate questions and consider “smart sampling” — meaning that not every participant is asked the same questions.
  • If this is your first survey, ask colleagues to help you test it. This way, you can assess if something is confusing and improve the wording.
  • In general, you want a minimum of 40% of the selected group of employees to respond before you draw conclusions from your data.
  • Although your survey should be anonymous, you might want to know which departments or seniority levels are most responsive. This can help you understand how to get everyone involved and pick up on potential issues.
  • It’s a good idea to share recurrent surveys on the same weekday each time, depending on how your company functions. For example, fridays might not be the best day for this as there a chance that people will be too focused on wrapping up tasks and starting the weekend. Or perhaps fridays are typically calm at your company and so it's a good day for responding to surveys.
  • Once you analyze the results, develop an action plan with your employees, so that they can also take the driver’s seat and think of what can be done on individual, team, and company levels.

How to run this People Ops Playbook:

Wie Sie dieses People Ops Playbook durchführen:

1. With a defined audience, choose your survey’s questions

Keep in mind that the questionnaire must serve your goal, giving you insights into how to tackle an issue; be specific and focus on questions related to topics you intend to act upon — e.g., eNPS, values, work environment, process and product improvements.

Don’t collect data for the sake of it. Your employees may get annoyed (and understandably so) if they have to answer too many questions. It’s best to be thoughtful and selective with the questions you include.

If in doubt, look into best-practice questions.

2. Determine when and how frequently you’ll run the survey

You will find it almost impossible to conduct surveys — let alone analyze results — without a survey tool to help you. While there is a variety of tools to choose from,  Leapsome’s platform offers template questions backed by people-science, and helps you to analyze both qualitative and quantitive results.

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Leapsome’s engagement survey combine easy set-up with powerful analytics to enable actionable solutions
🚀 Gain the insights you need

Build custom questions or choose from our people-science backed question library to uncover the factors that influence engagement, productivity, and satisfaction at your organization.

👉 Find out more

3. Determine how frequently you’ll run the survey

Just like you shouldn’t overwhelm your people with too many questions at a time, there should be a reasonable amount of time between each survey round. Companies typically run a very thorough employee satisfaction survey annually, twice a year, or once per quarter. You can decide based on what works best for your company.

Consider that, by running recurrent surveys too further apart, you may not have the clearest picture of your company’s ebb and flow. You can even run a quick pulse survey to find out if the current recurrence works for your team.

4. Decide how long participants have to respond

Don’t set a deadline that’s too far in the future — people might take too long to respond and not be as engaged. But don’t forget that your employees are busy and have personal lives to take care of. Strive for balance (e.g., a one-week deadline, not one-month).

5. Send out reminders to increase participation

Don’t be forceful, but also, don’t be afraid to remind your team that surveys are essential so that you can work to give them the best employee experience possible.

A best-practice tip is to use multiple internal communications channels to share these reminders. E.g., company all-hands meetings, chat, email. You can also ask managers to remind their team members during 1:1s and department meetings.

Follow-up best practices for employee engagement surveys

Dig into the data

This is how you’ll understand what’s most crucial and flag key insights. Without interpreting quantitative and qualitative responses (which can be put through a sentiment analysis), you’ll have plenty of data, but no way to inform an action plan.

Leapsome's sentiment analysis uses AI to interpret qualitative answers

Share the results

Research proves that transparent communication increases engagement, so keep that in mind when deciding whether to share results or keep them confidential. At the very least, managers should have access to results to better understand how to support their teams.

There’s no need to make this overly complex. Easy-to-understand statistics and basic graphs with strong and weak points will do the job. Just don’t take too long — there’s most likely no point in presenting results from a survey done five months ago.

You may also want to include anonymous quotes from employees to show that you are listening to them. Gaining further anonymous feedback on comments you may not have fully understood can also be very helpful.

Take action

Outline specific ways the company plans to respond to the data surfaced in the survey. If possible, make your actions time-bound, so that your employees know that you aren’t making empty promises for the distant future.

💡 Interested in learning even more about employee engagement surveys? We’ve got you covered: Check out our template of 72 employee engagement survey questions. 😉

Run employee engagement surveys and gather actionable insights with Leapsome

Leapsome is the only platform that closes the loop between performance management, employee engagement, and learning.

Watch this video to learn about using Leapsome survey analytics to get the most out of your employee engagement surveys and track engagement trends.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are pulse surveys the same as employee engagement surveys?

Pulse surveys and employee engagement surveys aren’t the same. Pulse surveys are usually shorter, more frequent, and don’t include as many questions as you would typically have in an engagement survey. Choose those for fast — but still valuable — insights to inform the strategy you already have in place (and which you hopefully designed with the help of engagement surveys).

How many questions should I include in an employee survey?

Pulse surveys typically include 5–10 questions. Employee engagement/satisfaction surveys may have up to 20–30 questions.

How to motivate my employees to work effectively?

Employee engagement surveys and pulse surveys are great tools for motivating your people, provided that you analyze the results and take action to boost engagement and satisfaction. Research shows that happier, engaged employees are more productive and less likely to churn.

How can I analyze employee survey results?

Survey data is the most valuable asset to help you take action to boost employee engagement. Without these insights, the chances of wasting valuable time in initiatives that bring no results are too high.

The easiest and most time-effective way to turn survey data into insights is to use a platform like Leapsome to do the hard work for you and present findings in an easy-to-visualize way; even qualitative data can be better understood via sentiment analysis!

What to do with employee engagement survey results?

Once you’ve analyzed the results, it’s time to create a survey action plan. Make sure that other leaders are on board, as they can provide additional insights about their specific departments.

Remember that feedback is a gift — and that also goes for the feedback you receive as a company. So don’t just justify yourself: take it and focus on action.

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