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employee engagement

Improve Employee Engagement in 2020: Build an Employee Engagement Survey

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Question—when’s the last time you measured your employees’ level of engagement? If you’re finding it difficult to answer the question then, well, there’s your answer—not recently.

Surveying employees is one of the best and easiest ways a business can determine levels of engagement. And, as we all know, employee engagement is always at the top of our to do list. Workplaces that focus on engagement see higher levels of retention and overall employee satisfaction. Improved engagement is also known to lead to greater profitability.

Understanding how engaged your employees are can help you determine the best strategy to maintain their levels of engagement, which in turn, can lead to greater company success.

To improve your employee engagement in 2020, start by building an employee engagement survey to learn the key factors that influence your employees.

Getting Started: Identify Your Key Engagement Drivers

Productivity plummets when employees are disengaged. For HR, boosting employee engagement begins by asking what causes an employee to withdraw in the workplace? What factors lead to a drop in motivation—and how can this be prevented? Cue engagement drivers.

Engagement drivers are the main influences that affect your employees’ level of engagement. There are countless engagement drivers you can consider, five of the most common include:

  1. Clearly Defined Purpose—roles and their expectations are effectively communicated as well as the organization’s mission.
  2. Recognition—this doesn’t only include competitive salaries, but also refers to the sense of pride and accomplishment an individual employee feels in their work, and for which they are recognized.
  3. Growth and Opportunity—there is clear potential for career growth and ongoing professional development and skill training are available.
  4. Autonomy—management recognizes individual employees’ skills and capabilities and encourages self-management, initiative and creativity.
  5. Relationships & Communication—management encourages and actively works towards building strong relationships with employees based on trust and open communication. Relationship building is also focused on the team and inter-employee engagement through ongoing one-on-ones, team meetings and performance management.

Undoubtedly, when you research engagement drivers, these five will come up over and over again. To begin building an engagement survey start by considering these drivers, then, evaluate if anything’s missing, you may need or want to include more influences such as tools and resources or workplace wellness. Remember, no two businesses are exactly alike, you’ll have to evaluate your company’s mission and its culture—both of which will also influence the drivers you choose to evaluate.

Set a Clear Objective

The next step in building your employee engagement survey is to set clear objectives—and stick to them. The objective of your employee survey should be determined by assessing input from upper and middle management, HR and yes, your employees.

To gain input from employees add a question about employee engagement in their quarterly or yearly performance review, this will give you insight as to where employees stand, and you’ll be able to identify any common themes. With this information in hand, HR and management should sit down and identify what issues or insights are most prevalent. From there determine the objective(s) of your employee engagement survey.

Common objectives for employee engagement surveys include:

  • To gain a general assessment of what factors drive employee engagement
  • To direct organizational growth—by measuring employee satisfaction, your leadership teams’ effectiveness and workplace environment can help you determine areas that may need work, areas that employ best practices and those that don’t. Ultimately, this goal can help your organization determine changes it can make to positively impact and improve employee engagement.
  • Comparative Evaluations—you may want to use your employee engagement survey to assess your company’s level of engagement against those of competitors. This kind of objective can help you determine if issues you’ve identified are common to your industry or specific to your organization.

Regardless of which objective you choose, it’s important that you choose only one. That it be well defined, agreed upon by management and HR and effectively communicated to employees.

Communicate the Survey’s Purpose to Employees

Once you’ve determined your employee engagement survey’s objective, you’ll begin building it. Determining questions that will help you assess each key driver you’ve decided to measure. While this is happening, you should begin communicating with your employees regarding the upcoming survey. This helps ensure employees know what to expect when they receive the survey.

When you discuss the survey with your employees ensure they know:

  • Why they’re being asked to complete it. Let them know what the goal of the survey is, and how you’ll use their responses.
  • Ensure their answers will not be used against them. You won’t get honest responses if employees are afraid what they share may negatively impact them.
  • Let them know when they can expect a follow-up to the survey—when they can expect to see the results and a plan of action to address any problem areas that may become evident.

By ensuring employees will see a plan of action after they complete the survey you’re letting them know their opinions are valued—and that your company intends to use their opinions to make improvements for the better.

Design Your Survey

As you’re communicating with employees about the survey, you’ll also be building it. 

You can design your survey however you want, but to ensure the fullest level of participation, SurveyMonkey suggests the following:

  • Keep it simple—make sure the design flows, questions are clear and response options run on a clearly defined scale
  • Avoid using open ended question
  • Don’t use leading questions
  • Keep it short and sweet
  • Define terms where necessary—if there’s a question regarding the use of a word or term on your survey, decide if there’s another way to phrase it. If not, include a definition to avoid any confusion.

Keep focused when designing your survey—remember your key objective(s). Include questions that will help you assess your objective and answer pertinent questions that can be used to improve employee engagement.

Share the Results

Once you’ve put the survey together, tested it for usability and accessibility, you’ll share it with your employees and wait for responses. This next step is arguably the most crucial when it comes to successfully building your employee engagement for 2020. You must assess your employees’ responses, calculate the results and then share them with management and staff.

Put together a comprehensive analytics report that outlines the results of the survey. Include an analysis of how the results measure up to the survey’s objective(s) and what this tells you about the current state of your employees’ level of engagement. You’ll find strengths and weakness, highlight both, and how you plan to maintain the strengths and improve the weaknesses.

Execute a Plan of Action

Finally, once you’ve shared the results of your employee engagement survey, include a plan of action outlining how HR and management will attack the areas of engagement that need improvement. Communicating these plans with employees will force you to remain accountable. It also demonstrates how much value your organization places in its employee’s satisfaction.

As new year approaches, developing new strategies and updating those already in play will be on every manager’s mind. Your engagement strategy can have a huge impact—positively or negatively—on all your other strategies, depending on how much effort you put into it. Starting 2020 off with an employee engagement survey can help set your business up for success because it will help you determine the best ways you can support your most important asset—your employees.


Margaret Reid

Margaret Reid

As the senior vice-president of Apri Insurance Services Inc., Margaret is a benefits consultant and manager of technical support. She has almost 40 years of experience in employee benefits as well as processing health and dental claims, benefits administration, and client service and groups sales. Margaret worked at Crown Life, a major insurance carrier, for 20 years, then worked at CG&B as the manager of their group department. She moved to B.Comm Financial Insurance Solutions in 2007, which merged with several other benefit consulting companies in 2011 to create Apri Insurance Services Inc. Margaret has unintentionally followed in her father’s footsteps. He was a group sales rep with Crown Life when she was a child and helped her get her first job in group insurance, which led to her current career path.

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