Getting the most out of employee engagement surveys means reading between the lines. While your HR team might already filter engagement numbers by demographics, reporting manager, office location, and other standard fields, a little creativity yields additional insight.
Jessica Lim, HR Manager at MyPerfectResume, maintains a lot of employee data. All of the custom fields she’s built over the years give her HR team an advantage when it’s time to crunch the numbers post-survey.
“The first step is to segment the results. But apart from slicing them from location to location, department to department, or team to team, you have to look for non-obvious respondent groups,” Lim said. While she still reports on criteria like gender and location, she’s made valuable discoveries by looking at employee feedback by parental status, tenure, and other alternative fields. Below are just a few of the creative ways you can slice your employee engagement data.
1. Parental Status
The lines between work and home life are blurred more than ever, especially for working parents. In the past year, working parents report feeling more stressed, tired, and rushed than their colleagues. To determine whether your People initiatives are meeting the mark, consider filtering engagement results by parental status. Employees will need to volunteer this information, so be prepared to disclose how you’ll use it.
"We've seen a few companies include attributes for parental status,” said Emily Beugelmans Cook, a People Strategy Consultant with Lattice’s Advisory Services. “With any attribute that's collected and used for analyzing survey data, it's important that the company be able to take action if they find that the group has lower engagement scores.”
It’s not atypical for engagement to vary between your company’s new and old guard. Still, major discrepancies should catch your attention. Disengagement among newer employees might suggest a need to revisit your onboarding process, experiment with new hire buddies, or implement other ramp-up programs. If tenured employees feel burned out or undervalued, that might be a call to reshuffle their workloads, introduce work “sabbaticals,” or offer an equity refresh.
David Bitton, co-founder of DoorLoop, pays close attention to engagement by tenure. In addition to the cultural hit of losing early employees, he’s concerned about institutional knowledge walking out the door. “Filtering engagement like this allows me to take a closer look at each tenure level and come up with specific strategies in response. Companies should know better than to use a generic strategy,” Bitton said.
3. Performance Scores
Disengagement is always bad news — but when you discover that it affects your high performers, that’s really bad news. Cross-reference survey results with your latest performance ratings to identify pressing attrition risks. If high performers consistently bring up things like lack of career growth or development opportunities in their comments, those insights can help you formulate a response.
When you maintain engagement surveys and performance data in separate platforms, it can be hard to reconcile them while maintaining employee anonymity. When these data sets live together in a people management platform like Lattice, you can easily filter results by performance, manager, and other criteria without compromising employee trust. Check out Lattice’s analytics dashboards and heatmaps and learn more.
4. Last Promotion
Studies show that investing in employee recognition drives engagement, and few forms of recognition are as tangible as promotions. Cross-referencing employees’ engagement survey results with the date of their last promotion gives companies a few advantages. First, it can help you determine whether you need to adjust your promotion cycle frequency. If you keep top performers waiting too long, disengagement can give way to turnover.
Conversely, low engagement among the recently-promoted might suggest you need to offer those employees additional training and resources. The transition to management can be overwhelming, and high new-manager turnover is a hallmark of organizations without learning and development programs.
5. Job Level
Job leveling helps employees understand what’s expected of them in a particular role, how they fit into an organization, and what they need to do to get a promotion. Filtering engagement survey results by job level can help you illustrate how challenges evolve over the employee lifecycle. For instance, level-one feedback might express frustration over a lack of training resources or manager support. Level-three employees could be feeling “stuck” given the longer lag time between promotions as you climb upward. In cases like these, consider ways to recognize these employees that go beyond title.
6. Full-Time Status
Companies depend on a mix of full-time, part-time, and contingent workers. It’s important to track engagement for all segments, especially if you want to foster a unified workplace culture. By creating a custom field in your survey tool or importing employment status from your HR information system (HRIS) via a Lattice integration, you can report on whether contractors feel as engaged and included as the rest of your company.
7. Manager Status
Recently promoted managers aren’t the only leaders susceptible to burnout. Low employee engagement scores among new and veteran team leads could be indicative of more widespread problems. Gallup research suggests that manager performance and engagement account for at least 70% of their direct repots’ job satisfaction.
After you’ve filtered engagement scores by manager status, carefully consider written comments for additional context. You might find that managers feel overworked, unsupported by senior leadership, or unable to break through company silos.
Filtering overall engagement by age isn’t necessarily groundbreaking. But when you look at how specific aspects of the employee experience — like communication and inclusion — vary by generation, you can identify more nuanced trends. Susan Norton, Senior Director of Human Resources at LiveCareer, used this approach to understand what her team needed during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ve observed generational differences when working in a virtual environment. For older employees, online collaboration and communication were a big challenge. For Millenials, isolation and lack of contact with colleagues made their work more difficult,” Norton said. Using that data and written comments, LiveCareer tailored company culture initiatives and benefits to better fit their multi-generational workforce.
9. HR Business Partner
At larger organizations, specific functions or departments are often served by individual HR business partners (HRBPs). These professionals will work directly with their assigned department’s leaders, managers, and employees to set People strategy, offer advice, and answer questions.
Company-wide survey scores can be informative, but every business function has its own unique strengths and challenges. By filtering engagement scores by HRBP, you can give those professionals the details they need to brainstorm solutions with department leadership and implement changes.
10. Remote Status
The last thing hybrid teams want is a cultural divide between onsite and remote colleagues. Singling out engagement scores among remote employees helps your People team identify breaks in communication, work-life balance concerns, and even technical setup issues. By filtering survey results by remote status and manager status, you can also determine whether leaders with distributed teams need additional training and support. Track these trends in real-time by using pulse surveys.
People strategy isn’t about implementing follow-up responses that apply to everyone. The HR teams that “get it” in Lim’s view are the ones who can use survey feedback to develop lots of targeted action plans.
“Building a positive workplace experience isn't a one-size-fits-all exercise. You have to understand your employees, where they come from, and what motivates them,” Lim said. Teams that implement responses designed to make everyone happy seldom get the results they’re looking for — which is why filtering survey results into smaller buckets is so critical.
In How to Turn Engagement Survey Results Into Action, we’ll walk you through how to analyze, benchmark, and act on your engagement metrics. You’ll learn how to uncover insights from your engagement data and set clear, actionable goals in response.