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All “tricked out” with employee engagement surveys?

Employee engagement surveys are a great “trick” to measure the pulse of your organization and to increase employee engagement. Even small employers can conduct and analyze results in a low cost, time effective manner.

This article will unpack key factors of employee engagement and will outline an efficient plan to conduct a workplace survey. Employee engagement surveys used to be cumbersome “tricked out” affairs. I’ve seen surveys that were 8 pages long with over 150 questions, questions with intimidating terminology and questions that seem to be repeated over and over again. These surveys may be more scientifically valid, but most companies need to pay a professional consulting or survey company to compile and interpret the results. The real trick is that with a bit of research and the use of free survey applications, small business employers can implement an employee engagement survey that will benchmark their workforce and illuminate areas of strength and areas of opportunity.

Elements of employee engagement

Employee engagement is a business term that is often thrown around without definition. Fortunately, Robert J. Vance, in a 2006 Effective Practice Guidelines report for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) foundation has surveyed the literature and summarized the main elements of engagement. Employee engagement is made of different factors including:

  1. Pride in employer
  2. Satisfaction with employer
  3. Job satisfaction
  4. Opportunity to perform well at challenging work
  5. Recognition and positive feedback for one’s contributions
  6. Personal support from one’s supervisor
  7. Effort above and beyond the minimum
  8. Understanding the link between one’s job and the organization’s mission
  9. Prospects for future growth with one’s employer
  10. Intention to stay with one’s employer

Organizations that have employees who score high in all these areas will also likely have employees who are willing to put in discretionary effort to accomplish the goals for the organization. Employee engagement can be measured using shorter, more narrowly focused surveys based on these 10 factors to create a succinct employee engagement survey.

Engagement and organizational success

Companies who score high in employee engagement surveys also often have higher productivity and lower safety incidents. While the link is not a straightforward mathematical equation it is significant field of study in organizational development. It is worthwhile to measure your employee engagement score and to benchmark your results and your organizational productivity.

Check out the engage for success infographic

Employee survey implementation

Here are 5 easy steps for implementation of an annual employee engagement survey.

Create your survey: Use the 10 areas of employee engagement listed in the previous section. Survey Monkey is one of several free applications for surveys. You can even select questions that have been validated by the SHRM association. Alternately you can pay for a 1 month subscription ($25) and use one of their pre-configured surveys. Survey Monkey Employee Engagement Survey

There are many other free survey resources that also have sample employee engagement surveys:

  1. Communicate your survey: Tell your employees what you are going to do and why you are doing it. Share the factors that make up employee engagement with them and discuss the links between engagement and organizational success before you implement the survey. Communicate with employees that the survey will be anonymous.
  2. Share results widely: Sharing the results of the survey starts the process of a two-way relationship and reciprocity. The act of gathering employee opinions and attitudes about their organization and then being transparent about those results can itself enhance employee engagement and commitment.
  3. Interpret the data to identify strengths and areas of opportunity: You may want to set up your own scoring system for employee engagement based on the ten areas of employee engagement suggested by Robert Vance. Work with an employee group to create an action plan to address priority areas. If employees see that leadership does not take the survey results seriously, before long they will also be cynical about the employee engagement survey.
  4. Another year has passed: Repeat survey!

Last words: Employee engagement and workplace psychological health

Completing an employee engagement survey can help you measure your employee engagement and take steps to providing a work environment where energized employees believe in the organization and understand and commit to achieving organizational goals. As a final “trick,” employee engagement surveys may also form the starting point for your assessment of your workplace psychological health. Employee engagement surveys offer up several indicators regarding the healthiness of the work environment. With the implementation and adoption of the Canadian National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, employee engagement surveys may be a tool for employers to defend themselves against claims of a damaging work environment or claims that an employer has disregarded the psychological health of employees.

Marcia Scheffler, M.A.
CHRP Candidate

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Marcia Scheffler

Human Resources Generalist at Wawel Villa
Marcia Scheffler, M.A., CHRP Candidate is a Human Resources Generalist with M.A. working full-time as a Senior HR Officer. She is interested in the intersection of human resources theory and current best practices in HR. Read more
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One thought on “All “tricked out” with employee engagement surveys?
  • These free and cheap survey tools are a great idea, thanks for sharing!

    This topic is very close to me, as I’ve recently become very interested on how employee engagement surveys are run (that’s how I came across this blog in a Google search). There are two major issues that the team here at TemboStatus find with these cheap employee engagement survey software:

    The first, and by far the biggest, is that they just give you the results – then what? The problem we see over and over again with employee engagement surveys is that often, companys don’t take action after the survey has been run. This sends a very negative message to the employees – what’s the point in taking the survey if nobody listens and acts on the results?

    The second issue is that it’s not just about measuring employee engagement, but also tracking the changes over time. Surveys should be run regularly, either every year, or twice a year, and the differences survey-to-survey are often more revealing than the results of any one survey.

    Eventually, as your company grows, you’ll need to move beyond the basic survey and start getting serious about measuring engagement, as well as putting in place the processes and plans for increasing employee engagement over time.

    Obviously I’m biased, but we’re pretty happy with what we’ve built at TemboStatus for what we call “everything that comes after the survey.” Feel free to check it out and let us know what you think!