How to turn employee survey results into action

TL;DR: Engagement surveys (and other types of employee surveys) have the potential to create major change in your organization — but only if you create and action plan based on the results. You can use the information gathered in your surveys to identify unforeseen challenges and solve problems.

You’ll want to create a plan to apply what you’ve learned from the surveys, so you can create a measurable positive impact in both the short and long term. It’s also crucial to let employees know you’re addressing their concerns. That way, they’ll understand their voices are being heard and will feel motivated to contribute to surveys in the future.  

What to do with employee engagement survey results?

Whether or not you’re aware of it, employee engagement affects almost every area of your business. According to Gallup’s 2020 Q12® Meta-Analysis, engagement levels are directly linked to business performance; the report points at strong correlations between employee engagement and performance metrics like well-being, safety, absenteeism, quality, customer loyalty, and productivity.

What’s more, highly engaged business units lose 59% less employees. Reducing turnover results in increased efficiency — turnover costs can add up quickly, as new employees need training and won’t be working at full productivity right away. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimates that employee turnover can cost up to one-third of the departing employee’s annual salary, and other studies point to an even grimmer scenario: Replacing one person could cost you up to two times their annual pay.

Considering how employee engagement affects turnover and performance, it’s no surprise that so many organizations choose to track this metric through surveys. But it’s not enough just to run employee engagement surveys. You also have to use the information you gather.

Acting on employee survey results is key to achieving better business outcomes and building employee trust. Employees appreciate when their concerns are listened to; in fact, those who feel heard are over four times more likely to feel empowered to do their best work. Conversely, when employees don’t feel heard, this can quickly create an engagement problem: 64% of professionals say “leaders making decisions without seeking their input” is their biggest problem at work.

Acting on survey results also makes employees more willing to take part in future surveys. According to McKinsey, the number one driver of “survey fatigue” was the perception that organizations wouldn’t act on the results.

“Leadership is the biggest blocker to turning survey results into action. It doesn’t take a lot of money to implement change, but it does take time and commitment. Issuing the survey is the easy part, but being willing to internalize the feedback and turn it into action, for some reason, is nearly impossible for some organizations.

Before issuing the survey, leadership must commit to each other and its employees that the survey won’t be a bunch of talk, but lead to actual change.”

Catharine Montgomery, social causes communications leader, speaking of diversity surveys

So how do you leverage employee survey results and use them to boost engagement? Read on to learn how to get the most from your employee surveys.

💡 Measure & improve your engagement drivers with Leapsome

Our employee surveys & analytics dashboards are designed to give you powerful insights to inform actions for improvement

👉 Learn more

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Wann Sie dieses Playbook verwenden sollten

When to use
this playbook

You can start acting on employee survey results as soon as you receive them. You should use this playbook if you’ve recently completed an employee engagement survey, have pulse survey data that you’ve been aggregating over time, or if you intend to start running surveys — after all, you should be prepared to take action.

Reviewing survey results can help you deal with immediate problems and identify long-term trends. For example, measuring engagement will allow you to pinpoint current issues in your company, but it can also help you spot changes in company-wide engagement levels year on year.

Along with engagement surveys, you can also use other types of surveys, like diversity surveys and pulse surveys, to better understand the employee experience.

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Was Sie für dieses Playbook benötigen

What you’ll need for
this playbook

An employee survey program

To use this playbook, you’ll need to have an employee survey program in place to collect data.

If you don’t yet have a process for running surveys, or if you think your existing program could use improvement, check out our playbook “How to Run an Employee Engagement Survey” for helpful tips on how to get started.

Defined goals for your survey program

Your survey program should have a set of defined goals. Why are you running employee engagement surveys? What do you hope to get from your survey program?

This will help you understand how to act on the surveys and what kind of results you should be working towards. 

Hinweise & Tipps
  • Before kickstarting an employee survey program, create a strategic plan outlining what the process will look like, what your primary goals are, and how you’ll measure success.

  • In case you decide to run anonymous surveys (which we recommend), make sure employees understand that their privacy is preserved. Anonymous surveys often lead to better data, since employees may feel uncomfortable sharing sensitive concerns.

  • Use best practices when creating survey questions. Leapsome offers professional questionnaire templates developed by organizational psychologists.

  • Consider the unique needs of remote teams when creating survey questions.
  • Use engagement data to understand other important metrics, like performance and employee churn.

How to run this People Ops Playbook:

Wie Sie dieses People Ops Playbook durchführen:

1. Send out your employee engagement surveys

Before you can start turning your employee survey results into action, you’ll need to administer your surveys.

Most HR departments run surveys frequently. Surveys may be sent weekly, monthly, or quarterly. To avoid survey fatigue, try to balance the length of your surveys with the frequency you’re sending them. The more infrequent the survey, the more questions you can include, and vice versa.

For higher completion rates, make sure employees know when to expect a survey and send reminders to prompt them to complete it. Remember: A culture of acting on employee survey results is the strongest motivator. No matter how many reminders you send out, no one wants to spend time completing a survey if they think the results will be ignored.

2. Gather the data in an organized place

How are you currently running employee engagement surveys? Are you using a mix of software apps and documents, or even administering surveys on paper? Having employee survey results scattered in different places can lead to confusion and make it more difficult to analyze the data you gather.

To stay organized, it’s useful to have a “single source of truth” for your employee survey results. You can manage your survey process all in one place, alongside other HR functions like performance management, OKRs, and learning, with a people management platform.

3. Interpret your quantitative data

There are two types of data you should collect through your surveys: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative data can be expressed through numbers or metrics, while qualitative data consists of more subjective, long-form answers.

One commonly tracked quantitative metric is the employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS). Net Promoter Score is a widely used metric for tracking customer satisfaction, and eNPS is an application of the same metric for employee satisfaction.

You can find out your eNPS using just one survey question: “On a scale of 0–10, how likely would you be to recommend our organization to a friend or colleague?” Employees may be classified as detractors (0–6), passives (7–8), or promoters (9–10), depending on the scores they give. To calculate your eNPS score, subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. You can also easily measure eNPS with Leapsome’s employee survey analytics.

To better understand your quantitative data, try filtering and segmenting it (for example, by age, gender, team, or job title). You can also check for correlated questions using Leapsome’s Impact Drivers and verify other companies’ benchmarks (which you can also do with Leapsome).

4. Interpret your qualitative data

Qualitative data is a bit more complex to analyze than quantitative data. When looking at someone’s long-form answer, you may be unsure of what they mean by their comments. While you could simply ask them to elaborate in an in-person conversation, this can be difficult with anonymous surveys.

Fortunately, the Leapsome platform allows you to reach out to employee survey respondents and engage in anonymous talks.

You can also analyze qualitative data at scale using sentiment analysis. This natural language processing (NLP) technique can help you digest and visualize information by grouping comments into categories and classifying them as positive, negative, or neutral.

5. Identify key themes and brainstorm ideas

The next step is to have a look at the “big picture” of your survey results. Your qualitative and quantitative analyses should have pointed you towards some key points to focus on. Once you’ve identified your company’s strengths and weaknesses, brainstorm ideas for how these might translate into action.

For example, if most employees gave low scores on the statement “my manager cares about my opinions,” you could look into setting up a managerial training program. Or if the statement “I have access to the equipment and tools I need to do my job” received a low score, perhaps it’s time to upgrade your technology and infrastructure.

The ideas you come up with during this brainstorm will serve as a foundation for your action plan.

6. Create an action plan for the future

At this point, it’s time to create an action plan and decide how to move forward. This is where you’ll choose the points that are most important to focus on, and outline the specific steps you’ll take to reach your goals.

To be effective, your action plan should be laid out in writing and should include regular checkpoints and deadlines for accountability. Leapsome allows you to create this type of post-survey plan and assign ownership of specific projects, making it easy to keep track of your progress along the way.

To keep employees at all levels of the company engaged and involved, try to avoid simply issuing decrees from above. Consider also offering ways for employees to create change from the bottom up. For example, many companies have created working groups where employees can discuss DEI issues, express their concerns, and plan future actions.

7. Share the action plan with stakeholders

Once you’ve analyzed the data, understood it, and created your action plan, it’s time to share the survey results with people in your company.

Decide who needs to see the survey results, data visualizations, and action plan,  and how these should be presented. Employee survey results must be discussed with managers, and we recommend that you share them with employees as well — especially if you’re planning to make big changes.

You can share employee survey results at an all-hands meeting and follow up via email, recapping what was promised in the action plan from previous rounds and what has successfully been implemented. 

“Do an AMA [Ask Me Anything] in your all-hands meeting and get the founder up there to discuss structural changes. Get people to ask them questions in advance.

Be able to come and be vulnerable about what you’re doing, what you’re working on, and what these changes will mean in practice, and why you believe they’re important. Show that you actually care.”

— Matt Bradburn, co-founder of The People Collective, offering his insights on how to act on employee engagement survey results on the People Over Perks podcast

Follow-up best practices for employee survey results

Keep track of medium- and long-term goals

Employee survey results should guide the direction of your company culture over the long term.

When turning survey results into action, you may come across goals that can’t be acted upon right away or have to be postponed. In that case, these long-term objectives can be integrated into your company’s overall OKR or goal-planning framework. That way, they won’t be forgotten, and the relevant stakeholders can hold one another accountable for making things happen.

⭐️ Don’t know where to start with employee engagement surveys? Check out this free list of 72 best-practice questions in 22 categories (with an infographic and a downloadable resource to make things even easier). 😉

Make the most of survey results with Leapsome

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

Our people enablement platform can deliver outstanding survey analytics and actionable insights into how your employees are feeling and are in need of. Watch this video to learn about interpreting survey analytics on the Leapsome platform.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How to communicate employee engagement survey results?

When communicating employee survey results, keep in mind that your people appreciate transparency. 70% of employees say they’re most engaged in their job when senior leadership communicates openly with them. If you’re planning to make major changes, it may be best to discuss these with employees at a meeting rather than over email. That way, employees can ask questions, share feedback, and clarify any doubts they have.

When sharing results, be sure to respect anonymity and privacy. Avoid sharing detailed comments that could be traced back to an individual, especially on sensitive topics.

‍How to run an employee engagement survey?

To run an employee engagement survey, start by defining your survey goals and deciding who will participate in the survey. Then, create your employee engagement survey questions. Finally, send out the survey at regular intervals, according to your preferred schedule. Don’t forget to send reminders to encourage responses!

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