Employee Engagement

How to Harness Engagement Survey Data and Turn it Into Action

July 18, 2023
November 7, 2023
  —  
By 
Emma Stenhouse
Lattice Team

Employee engagement and performance are so intertwined that it’s difficult to achieve one without the other. That means one of the best ways to cultivate a high-performing company culture is to put engagement front and center in your people strategy. 

Your engagement strategy should be proactive and reactive — like an infinite loop of feedback and informed actions. Creating surveys that are actually engaging is crucial for the former, but knowing how to harness the data and transform it into actionable insights is just as important. This process can feel like a challenge, but it doesn’t have to.    

One way to achieve this is to take inspiration from other companies that have transformed how their engagement data is collected and analyzed. We’ve rounded up the learnings and wins of four Lattice customers to show you just what’s possible — and how to get there.  

4 Risks of Not Taking Action

Lack of engagement should set warning bells off in the heads of people teams everywhere. Gallup’s 2023 State of the Global Workplace report estimates that low engagement costs the worldwide economy a huge US$8.8 trillion. The same report also found that globally, employee engagement levels reached record highs — although at only 23%, there’s still plenty of room for improvement. One of the best ways to increase engagement and performance is simply to ask your employees what they need. Preview in new tab

Fail to do so, and employees may believe their well-being and opinions don’t really matter to the company. Over time, this can lead to a lack of motivation and disengagement, such as quiet quitting and low performance, both of which are bad news for business.

People don’t want to complete surveys if they don’t think that action is going to be taken based on that feedback.

Taking no action after an engagement survey is just as bad, because employees are likely to feel they’ve wasted their time. As a result, the completion rate of the next survey may plummet, or only garner responses from the most dissatisfied employees. 

Recognizing your people processes need an overhaul is the first step. Here’s what that might look like. 

1. A lack of standardized processes leaves employees in the dark. 

Rapid growth combined with a remote flexible workforce model meant that financial technology platform OppFi outgrew its existing people processes. The lack of a standardized performance review process left employees feeling unclear if they were meeting their goals or not. 

There also wasn’t an easy way to effectively communicate with remote employees and as a result, it was a challenge to create the kind of company culture and connections that nurture meaningful employee experiences. In situations like this, people teams need to get a handle on regularly measuring employee sentiment, or engagement and productivity can quickly start to take a nosedive.   

2. Disconnected goals lead to a lack of employee growth. 

Digital health company Twill experienced a period of rapid growth, which left their performance management processes struggling to keep up. While company values were communicated during employee onboarding, there was no easy way for employees to refer back to them later in their career journey, or see how they tied into their goals.  

There also wasn’t a clear pathway for career development or reviews, and each team ended up with separate, siloed processes for recording learning and development, feedback, and one-on-ones. As a result, employee growth wasn’t given the consistent and intentional attention it deserved. When employees can’t see a clear pathway to career progression, retention can become an issue because they may feel that the only way to advance their careers is to change employers.  

3. Relying on legacy systems negatively impacts employee participation. 

Open-source software creator Liferay defines its culture as a mature startup — but its legacy performance management system hadn’t been updated in years. As a result, employee participation in the review process was low, and there was no clear way to set goals. 

It also wasn’t possible to complete and record self-reviews or 360-degree feedback, which held back the employee experience and meant there was no record of specific conversations. 

“I knew we needed a more effective performance management process when I got to Liferay,” explained Matt Poladian, Liferay’s VP of people. “Performance management is so important because it connects individual performance — what is required and expected — to the collective performance of the company. That way, somebody can really understand where they are, not just as an employee, but as part of the fabric of the company and in the marketplace.”

4. When the feedback cycle breaks down, employee success suffers.  

The public relations management software platform Muck Rack had been relying on department-specific people policies and ad hoc initiatives that were no longer meeting the company’s expanding needs. 

“Employees weren’t getting consistent feedback from their managers and peers, and we weren’t receiving regular feedback from our employees,” explained Erica Raphael, Muck Rack’s VP of people. 

Engagement surveys were conducted sporadically, and even when data was gathered, the lack of resources meant it couldn't be used to drive meaningful change. Raphael recognized that this lack of standardized and scalable HR practices was holding the company back from setting its employees up for success. 

“We needed a way to standardize how we were doing things, improve communication, and make it easier to gather information from the team,” said Raphael.  

How Engagement Data Can Transform Performance 

The examples above illustrate the far-reaching effects that ignoring employee engagement can have. But when harnessed the right way, the data from engagement surveys can have a transformative effect on business outcomes.

Finding out what your employees really think, and acting on their insights, means companies can successfully re-engage the 59% of workers who say they’re quiet quitters — the employees that show up to work, but are mentally checked out and psychologically detached from their employers. 

Work on transforming the experience of low-engagement workers and you can both positively impact their well-being, but also help boost productivity — which in turn impacts the overall performance of the company they work for.   

In theory, this sounds doable, but this approach needs to be underpinned by the right employee engagement software — one that enables human resources to access real-time data. This helps uncover actionable insights and inform decisions around how to improve the employee experience. Achieve this, and increased engagement and performance should naturally follow. 

Here’s how the four Lattice customers we met earlier harnessed that data, took action, and transformed their performance. 

Create a virtuous cycle between engagement and performance. 

Now, OppFi uses Lattice to send out engagement surveys three times a year. Once the results are in, teams deep dive into the data, and create action plans that specifically address employee feedback. 

“Lattice helps us share and distribute that information with our leaders, but also hold them accountable,” said Kelsey Witmer, director of culture & change management. “It’s been an extremely powerful listening mechanism for us and our employee experience strategy.”

And the results of this new strategy speak for themselves — the new system at OppFi has led to a feedback increase of 163% and counting. But the people team at OppFi knows that's only half the battle. 

“People don’t want to complete surveys if they don’t think that action is going to be taken based on that feedback,” Witmer said. “We are really intentional about the questions we ask because we know we have to be ready to take action.”

Once an action plan is developed, OppFi then informs the entire company — and tracks the positive changes. 

An overview of Lattice Engagement, which shows HR administrators recommended action plans after an employee survey.
Lattice Engagement provides collaborative action plans, research-backed action suggestions, and real-time results tracking, so leaders can drive strong outcomes.

Connect the dots between people and business strategy.

Choosing to use Lattice has enabled Twill's people team to create a flexible and centralized people management space that can evolve with the company as it grows. Initial engagement and pulse surveys uncovered that while Twill employees enjoyed their work, they couldn’t see a clear path for their career development. 

As a direct result of this feedback, the people team placed a high priority on creating career paths, combined with access to a professional development fund designed to offer support to employees as they learn new skills. 

Supported by Lattice, the new framework at Twill has enabled every employee to have a connection to the overarching business strategy, which boosted efficiency and performance. Employee pulse surveys helped uncover employee feedback that can be turned into actionable insights, which led to the creation of some new programs, and the scrapping of others that were no longer working. 

Using a platform that’s backed up with powerful analytics, like Lattice, means it’s also possible to track trends over time. “The Pulse survey gave a number and tracked it and showed what happened over time,” explained Pam Farago Morris, director of talent development at Twill. “We could actually see trends over time and see what people were thinking and feeling and actually have hard numbers and data behind it, in addition to the qualitative pieces, too.”

Bring clarity to employee conversations.

By transitioning to Lattice, Liferay got the tailored and flexible experience it needed from its performance management processes. Now, individual performance can easily be linked to collective business performance which has led to clearer conversations around OKRs and goal-setting. 

“Before, we weren’t setting goals,” said Poladian. “The biggest thing Lattice helped us do is to teach everyone what an objective and a key result are. It was a cascading mechanism that changed our world.”

The centralized and intuitive nature of the Lattice platform has also transformed the participation rates of engagement surveys at Liferay — with completion rates sitting at almost 90%. Poladian suggested the reason behind these impressive results is that Lattice is so easy to use, which means most employees use it daily. 

“I think there are a number of people who make it one of the tools they log into every morning when they’re starting up,” he explained. And once employees are in the habit of using Lattice, completing surveys becomes second nature. 

Make meaningful improvements to the employee experience.

The team at Muck Rack found that having an intuitive and easy way to collect employee feedback made it much easier to identify changes that would improve the employee experience and boost resources. 

“I don’t think there’s anything worse than gathering data and not having the resources to do anything with it,” said Raphael. “Before Lattice, we didn’t have the resources to run surveys more often and do something meaningful with the data.”

But now, the people team can analyze the results of engagement surveys and identify any opportunities for improvements tailored to this data. With the right HR tech, it’s much easier to ask the right questions at the right frequency, so progress can be tracked and adjustments are made when necessary.   

These deep, real-time insights, combined with the ease of use that Lattice offers, meant that Muck Rack went from having no reliable way to quantify employee sentiment to creating a 2023 action plan in a short space of time. 

“We were able to be transparent and share what we learned about in terms of what we’re doing really well, where our biggest areas of opportunity are, and what we’re planning to work on,” explained Raphael. Because Lattice is so intuitive to use, employee adoption at Much Rack is high, with an incredible 100% completion rate for performance reviews.  

Making Employee Engagement More Efficient

Asking employees for their honest feedback during an engagement survey — and then turning the results into action — is a powerful way to drive individual and collective performance.

But it can’t be done efficiently without the right survey software — Lattice makes it as easy and intuitive for HR to access real-time data and use it to inform decisions. To discover more about how to build people programs that deliver value, download our ebook: HR’s Guide to Driving Business Impact.