When you ask your coworkers and employees to fill out an engagement survey, they do so on the faith that their answers will be used to improve the workplace. Because of the effort involved from the employees and the expectations raised by the engagement survey process, it can be more harmful to a company and its employees to run employee engagement surveys and do nothing with the results than not running them at all. This guide provides actionable advice for breaking down employe engagement survey results, figuring out what changes need to be made at a company, and implementing those changes.
1. Thank employees for completing the survey and explain next steps.
Thanking your employees for taking time out to provide you with information should be the first step, especially if your survey is voluntary. You also have some questions to answer, such as when will you go over the results, who will see them first, and when will managers hear the results. No matter what the levels of engagement are according to the survey, employee engagement will drop precipitously if you don’t show that you’re prepared to put that survey data to use for some employee engagement strategies. Let your employees know that human resources (or leadership — whoever is running the survey) will be soon meeting with them to make plans around the survey results.
- Create a project plan with clear follow through, including a timeline for when results will be shared.
- Send out an email explaining next steps.
- Possible email script: Thanks so much for filling out the engagement survey. We’re looking forward to digging into the results and we are preparing to move forward to review the results on [date]. Afterwards, we’ll be reaching out to managers to discuss the results, and will then host group/department meetings around the results. If you’d like to set up some time to discuss the survey with People Ops, please reach out to us privately. Let us know if you have any questions at all.
2. Analyze the results.
One of the most important things to do after an employee survey is analyzing the results; after all, how can you gauge how satisfied employees are if you haven’t taken time to really study their answers about the employee experience at your company? As you study these, consider: what do certain answers to certain employee survey questions say about the company culture? About its organizational culture? About employee satisfaction?
- Look at cross-sections — you will find valuable insights by looking at a particular cross-section of responses. Your overall results concerning company morale might be good, but if you don’t dig into your data you may miss that there are some departments or groups that may not be as satisfied or may feel that they aren’t receiving the same support as others. This is important to do at companies of all sizes, but it can be especially important to do in large ones, where issues impacting one department or team may have a fairly small influence on the overall results.
- Contextualize the data — did employees feel unsupported in a department with management turnover, or did you have many new hires who may not feel as strongly about certain issues yet? While you should always pay attention to dips in satisfaction since your last survey, factoring major changes or recent events into the analytics of your data will help you truly understand what’s going on.
3. Share the results.
One of the most important things to do after an employee survey is sharing the results. Doing so builds trust and makes it clear that you held the survey specifically for employee feedback and they did the hard work of filling it out for their well-being. The way you share the survey results will depend on what you discover.
- It’s likely you had certain engagement survey questions — perhaps both point scale ones, and open-ended questions — to measure employee engagement levels at the company. Consider how you want to discuss employee engagement with your company. An engaged workforce means the organization has a healthy drive towards strong employee performance, high employee retention, strong work-life balance and job satisfaction across the board, and, ultimately, a bigger bottom line when it comes to company performance. In your analysis of the data, were there any answers that are red flags for engagement, especially how levels of engagement differ based on performance, gender, age, tenure, etc.? How do you want to approach leadership with analyses on the company’s work environment?
- Set up meetings with leadership to share the results, the analyses, and talk about next steps. Solicit feedback on key learnings and takeaways, and suggest engagement initiatives to boost engagement: for example, research shows that peer recognition for a job well done is a great way to engage employees.
- After you’ve figured out what departments should be informed on what survey results, set up meetings with each one’s management team. If the results are cross-functional or company-wide, then it’s the responsibility of the human resources or People Ops team to act as a business partner and facilitate the discussion between teams or across the company.
- Set up meetings between People Operations team members and departments; you may also set up interviews with individual employees if needed.
- If you are surprised by the results, it’s possible that you need to work on your company’s feedback culture. Creating a feedback culture takes time but there are easy ways you can promote positive recognition and private actionable feedback using Lattice.
4. Run post-survey meetings.
The point of these meetings to use the results to identify and work on areas of improvements within the company and its teams, but you should still brainstorm problems and potential solutions to them — that way, you can have a clear understanding of whether your perception of problems reflects employee perception once meetings are in progress. These meetings should be structured as conversations so people can have free-flowing discussions that lead to solutions — while a survey is communicated from the top-down, solutions should be bottom-up. The people team should facilitate the meeting in partnership with the manager or team lead. The conversation should be focused on asking follow up questions on certain answers, asking what employees think might be a better idea or plan, and just listening to the discussion.
- A framework for people teams on how to run post-survey meetings:
- First and foremost: Let the team come up with ideas. Because these meetings are based on their responses, it’s important they feel empowered to take the initiative.
- Start with imperative results — print and hand them out, put them up on a whiteboard/TV/etc — make sure everyone can see the list.
- After each result, ask the team for their thoughts; managers/leadership can add theirs, but it’s important that they not share before the rest of the team, as it might influence or bias the discussion.
- Discuss in-depth, then ask the team what actions they think would work moving forward.
- Set up an upward review cycle for your managers. This will give employees a safe space to provide more detailed and contextual feedback on their managers. You can configure the settings so that the feedback will be shared anonymously with their manager, transparently with their manager, or not shared with their manager at all.
5. Make public goals based on the engagement survey results.
One way to ensure that the company and departments follow up on the survey results is to set up public goals that are specifically created to deal with areas of improvement surfaced in the survey. This will provide a transparent process that will show the company is taking the survey results seriously, not just letting them collect dust.
- Work with department leads and the leadership team to set up an action plan informed by the post-survey meetings.
- Then take your action plan and set up goals using Lattice’s department and company goals feature. The people team should be a co-owner of goals from survey results.
- If managers and departments prefer to set their own goals, get them to gain approval from the people team first, making adjustments based your knowledge of company-wide goals, giving context for the changes you make.
6. Close the loop.
Complete the survey process.
- Send out an email informing people of the end of the post-survey period, and explain what actions the company is taking to address different results.
- Present results and post-results actions during a company-wide meeting. Let departments or team members explain how and what they settled on for goals. Encourage questions so people can learn from others’ methodology.
6. Plan check-ins.
Keep track of goals and consider how the discussions have changed or adjusted the organizational structure of the company. Depending on the issue, these check-ins might last week, months or maybe more, but it’s important that the people team stays on top of these issues and maintains transparent communication across the company.
- Make sure every goal is updated and progressing on an appropriate timeline.
- Depending on the issue, encourage managers and employees to include discussion on post-survey progress during 1:1s.
- Meet regularly with managers and employees to learn how these goals are advancing.
- When you close out a goal, make sure the company knows! It’s time to celebrate this cultural win across the company.
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