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Three Post-Engagement Survey Actions that Actually Improve Engagement

Conducting your employee engagement survey is just the beginning. It's what organizations do with the results that really help boost engagement.

Engagement surveys are an increasingly popular tool for taking the pulse of the workforce. Nearly half (47%) of high-performance organizations conduct such surveys annually or more frequently. Therefore, it's crucial to have a game plan for following up on survey results.

Here are three ways to ensure your organization's employee engagement survey actually translates into higher engagement:

1. Use town halls to share the results with employees

While manager-led department meetings are a common vehicle for sharing the results of employee engagement surveys, a recently release i4cp study on employee engagement practices found that a slightly lesser-used practice is a better approach. Town hall meetings led by senior leaders (71%) is the only outcome-sharing approach significantly correlated to having a highly-engaged organization. This finding emphasizes the power of having leaders connect directly with employees. Nothing says "We hear you" louder.

Three other sharing practices had positive correlations to having a highly engaged organization:

  • Provide a communication package of talking points to managers. Such a tool helps to ensure a consistent message throughout the firm
  • Communicate survey results through department/section meetings led by managers. This is the most popular approach among high-performance organizations (81%) and allows managers to deliver results in their own personal style
  • Include engagement scores in board-level reports. A high-level discussion of engagement reinforces the importance of boosting engagement to the organization overall's performance

2. Conduct an opportunity analysis

Opportunity analysis bolsters post-survey interventions. As a key early step in any post-survey intervention, conducting an opportunity analysis to determine what deficiencies need to be addressed cannot be shortchanged. Such an analysis sets the path for the resources to be committed, so nailing the problem to be solved up-front is an area in which organizations need to be proficient, and it pays off in higher engagement. While more than half of high-performance organizations invite employees to participate in focus groups to discuss engagement results and potential interventions (57%), fewer than half of them (44%) conduct an opportunity analysis to clearly define the area of improvement. Yet such an analysis is the only post-survey action that is significantly correlated to having a highly-engaged organization.

Other post-survey action steps are positively correlated to having a highly-engaged organization as well:

  • Create an engagement action plan
  • State the desired outcome for addressing the opportunity for improvement
  • Designate how to evaluate the success of an intervention
  • Conduct a cause analysis to consider possible/probable reasons for the opportunity for improvement
  • Communicate to employees which issues will not be addressed and the reasons why

3. Measure engagement's impact on retention, not employee satisfaction

Employee satisfaction is the most common measure of the impact of employee engagement (53% of HPOs), but that measure did not return a significant correlation to market performance or to having a highly-engaged organization.

Retention is the engagement impact measure of choice. High-performance organizations measure the impact of engagement on both retention (49%) and turnover (47%), but only retention is significantly correlated to having a highly-engaged organization. This finding also strengthens support for the value of "stay interviews" for retaining engaged employees, a practice examined in i4cp's report, Six Talent Practices that Boost Engagement and Market Performance.

Treat your employee engagement survey as a means not an end

More than half of the survey respondents from high-performance organizations view engagement as a means to achieve a greater purpose. In fact, twice as many high-performance firms as those with lower performance consider engagement a catalyst for better productivity, customer service, retention and other key business measures, and this perspective has a significant correlation with higher engagement.

Doing nothing is not an option. Simply gathering the data to compare one cycle to another is not sufficient for creating a more highly engaged workforce, nor does it lead to the benefits of a more engaged workforce. Nearly one-fourth of surveyed organizations reported that they took none of the post-survey actions listed, and that response had a significant negative correlation to having a highly-engaged organization. This lack of response following an engagement survey sends a negative message to employees, and the result is a less-engaged workforce.

High-performance organizations supplement their employee engagement survey practices with solid talent management practices. Members of i4cp can read more in Six Talent Practices that Boost Engagement and Market Performance.