How to Conduct an Employee Engagement Survey That Kickstarts Change

DANIELLE VABNER

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DANIELLE VABNER

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A 6-step plan for a successful employee survey.

Now more than ever, it is important to get a pulse on how your employees are feeling and how you can best support them. Amid the Great Resignation employees are on the hunt for workplaces putting their People first.

One of the most important steps leaders can take to demonstrate employee support is launching an employee engagement survey to gather candid and confidential feedback.

An employee engagement survey will help you determine:

  • How employees are feeling
  • What matters to them
  • What they need to feel supported and valued

The answers to these questions will help you improve employee engagement and improve employee retention.

What is an employee engagement survey?

An employee engagement survey is exactly what it sounds like: a way for you to measure how engaged your employees are – both with the work they are doing and with the overall organization – and equip yourself with key insights and feedback.

At Great Place to Work®, we recommend taking surveying a step further to measure employee experience. Measuring employee engagement, while important, is just one part of the puzzle.

How an employee engagement survey helps you improve company culture

An employee engagement survey is the crucial first step to understanding and improving your company culture. An employee engagement survey provides an aerial view of your organization’s strengths and areas of opportunity, feedback that is essential for identifying where you need to focus your attention and action.

An employee engagement survey also measures the degree to which your employees feel motivated and excited by their work, your organization and its mission – and where you can make changes to improve company culture.

A 6-step plan for an effective employee survey

1. Find the survey tool that best serves your needs

Identify what you want to learn from your employee survey results and ensure that the survey tool you choose will help you uncover those insights.

  • Do you want to understand how employee engagement varies across organizational departments?
  • Do you need to diagnose which demographic groups feel less engaged in their work than others, and why?

Our employee experience survey enables you to customize your survey with demographic questions unique to your organization, equipping you with actionable insights to improve employee engagement.

2. Get buy-in from key leaders within your organization

Convincing executives that company culture matters can be difficult, but it is possible.

Many executive teams are curious about employee opinions but do not have access to the frontline or middle management in a meaningful way. A focused survey is a great way to get executives preliminary feedback so they can understand where they may want to dig deeper.

For best results, talk to key leaders within your organization to determine what is most important to them:

  • What kind of data do they want to see from an employee engagement survey?
  • What are the organization’s goals for the year and how does an employee engagement survey fit into those goals?

This should determine some of the survey questions and demographics (such as department, locations etc) you might want to add to your employee engagement survey.

A successful survey starts and ends with great communication
3. Drum up excitement among your people

Now that everyone is aligned and you are ready to prep and launch your employee engagement survey, communicate to employees why you are asking for their feedback.

Emphasizing the why will ultimately increase engagement and survey participation. Knowing and believing the “what’s in it for me?” will make employees eager to provide honest, direct and detailed feedback.

A successful survey starts and ends with great communication as it leads to more engagement and buy-in from all areas of the business.

4. Launch your survey

When you run an employee survey through Great Place to Work®, you will see real-time participation numbers, which allows you to remind or encourage employees to submit their responses. You’ll also gain access to the most comprehensive employee experience data set, spanning over 30 years of surveying employees around the country and the world.

5. Benchmark your results

Compare the experience of your employees with credible benchmark data and gain an independent perspective about how well you perform compared to other companies.

By measuring your employee engagement scores against benchmarks such as the Best Workplaces™ in Asia 2022 or Vietnam Best Workplaces™ 2022 you can identify what employees expect from industries and companies. This is vital intel for closing culture gaps and improving employee engagement and retention.

Benchmarking can also help you define a clear employee value proposition by understanding what makes your organization unique relative to others. A strong and distinct employee value proposition will help you stand apart from other workplaces, refine your marketing messages and attract the right candidates.

6. Analyze and share the results

You have completed your survey and uncovered a treasure trove of valuable employee feedback. Now, the work begins: Using your results, you must figure out where your strengths and areas of opportunity lie.

First and foremost, thank employees for participating in the survey and sharing their candid feedback. Let them know you appreciate their responses and will be spending some time diving into the results.

Once you have developed a robust list of questions, curiosities and observations about your data, it’s time to share them with the wider company. Interpreting results is a key first step, but creating a clear action plan to share with employees is crucial.

With our employee survey tool, you can easily download reports with meaningful charts and benchmarks that make it easy to present the results to the broader company and identify your strengths and what is undermining your culture.

To improve your Employee Experiences, measure your employee experience

If you have questions about running employee experience surveys, or you’re ready to launch your own, reach out to us. We’re here to help gather the information you need to make the right decisions for your employees and your organization.

Keep an eye on the best companies in your region or industry and meet employees’ needs and expectations with our employee experience survey and benchmarking.

DANIELLE VABNER

Danielle Vabner is a Customer Success Manager at Great Place to Work®. Danielle partners closely with workplace leaders to help them reach their company culture goals and support them through launching their employee engagement surveys, becoming Great Place to Work Certified™ and beyond.

The data science behind this list from Great Place To Work®

Great Place To Work® has been surveying employees around the world about their workplace experiences for 30 years. We have developed a set of themes and metrics that not only predict whether employees feel their workplace is great, but predict retention, agility, and overall business success.  

Using our proprietary Trust Index™ survey, we measure the core of what we know creates great workplaces — key behaviors that drive trust in management, connection with colleagues, and loyalty to the company.  

The survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organization’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a five-point scale and answering two open-ended questions.

Employees tell us whether leaders are accessible, communicate honestly and clearly, and if their actions match their words. They tell us whether they feel respected as individuals, if they receive training benefits, appreciation, support for their well-being and opportunities to contribute. They tell us whether they believe their company is fair related to pay, profits, promotions, recognition, favoritism and opportunities. They tell us if they are proud of their work, their team, and their company, and if they feel they make a difference and their work is meaningful. And they tell us whether they enjoy the people they work with, feel cared for and can be themselves.  

List rankings are based on this employee feedback, which we analyze to determine the extent to which this experience is shared by the full workforce. Great Place To Work measures the differences in survey responses across demographic groups and roles within each organization to assess both the quality and consistency of the employee experience. Statements are weighted according to their relevance in describing the most important aspects of an equitable workplace. 

The best companies create great work experiences not just for management, but also for their part-time employees on the front lines, for those who’ve just joined and those who’ve spent their whole career there, for every race and ethnicity, gender, neurotype, or other demographic in the organization – we look at it all. Companies with the broadest set of employees who report positive workplace experience receive the highest rankings on lists.

In addition to analyzing employee feedback, for National List’s for companies in the Medium and Large size categories, we also consider what a company can tell us about their programs and workplace strategy. Each company also answers six essay questions that provide greater insight into how, and why the organization is great for all people. Responses are rigorously evaluated and cross-reviewed according to Great Place To Work’s research-driven criteria. From what companies share in datapoints and essays, we identify the organizations that offer the most generous, caring and innovative cultures that reflect a genuine commitment to meet the diversity of their people’s needs inside and outside the workplace as validated by what employees themselves report in survey results.
Where an industry list is being revealed (i.e. Healthcare, Technology) additional information provided from an organization in the form of a culture audit will not be considered; rather we analyze employee feedback from the Trust Index survey with the above methodology.

Because employee feedback drives these rankings, surveys must meet strict requirements for how they are distributed and the percentage of employees who respond to ensure they accurately represent honest feedback from the company’s full population. To be eligible for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™, have 10 or more employees in the country they are being Certified, and be operating in the industry relevant to a specific Industry list if applicable (i.e. Healthcare, Technology). If categories are being listed within a National list, category break downs are as follows: Companies with 10-29 people were considered for the Micro category; those with 30 to 99 people for the Small category; companies with 100 to 999 employees were considered for the Medium category; and those with 1,000 or more for the Large category. Some lists in certain countries may combine categories in which case that will be specified in the list breakdown.
While essay responses provide important context for rankings, only survey data can garner a list placement.

The data science behind this list from Great Place To Work®

Great Place To Work® has been surveying employees around the world about their workplace experiences for 30 years. We have developed a set of themes and metrics that not only predict whether employees feel their workplace is great, but predict retention, agility, and overall business success.  

Using our proprietary Trust Index™ survey, we measure the core of what we know creates great workplaces — key behaviors that drive trust in management, connection with colleagues, and loyalty to the company.  

The survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organization’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a five-point scale and answering two open-ended questions.

Employees tell us whether leaders are accessible, communicate honestly and clearly, and if their actions match their words. They tell us whether they feel respected as individuals, if they receive training benefits, appreciation, support for their well-being and opportunities to contribute. They tell us whether they believe their company is fair related to pay, profits, promotions, recognition, favoritism and opportunities. They tell us if they are proud of their work, their team, and their company, and if they feel they make a difference and their work is meaningful. And they tell us whether they enjoy the people they work with, feel cared for and can be themselves.  

List rankings are based on this employee feedback, which we analyze to determine the extent to which this experience is shared by the full workforce. Great Place To Work measures the differences in survey responses across demographic groups and roles within each organization to assess both the quality and consistency of the employee experience. Statements are weighted according to their relevance in describing the most important aspects of an equitable workplace. 

The best companies create great work experiences not just for management, but also for their part-time employees on the front lines, for those who’ve just joined and those who’ve spent their whole career there, for every race and ethnicity, gender, neurotype, or other demographic in the organization – we look at it all. Companies with the broadest set of employees who report positive workplace experience receive the highest rankings on lists.

In addition to analyzing employee feedback, for National List’s for companies in the Medium and Large size categories, we also consider what a company can tell us about their programs and workplace strategy. Each company also answers six essay questions that provide greater insight into how, and why the organization is great for all people. Responses are rigorously evaluated and cross-reviewed according to Great Place To Work’s research-driven criteria. From what companies share in datapoints and essays, we identify the organizations that offer the most generous, caring and innovative cultures that reflect a genuine commitment to meet the diversity of their people’s needs inside and outside the workplace as validated by what employees themselves report in survey results.
Where an industry list is being revealed (i.e. Healthcare, Technology) additional information provided from an organization in the form of a culture audit will not be considered; rather we analyze employee feedback from the Trust Index survey with the above methodology.

Because employee feedback drives these rankings, surveys must meet strict requirements for how they are distributed and the percentage of employees who respond to ensure they accurately represent honest feedback from the company’s full population. To be eligible for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™, have 10 or more employees in the country they are being Certified, and be operating in the industry relevant to a specific Industry list if applicable (i.e. Healthcare, Technology). If categories are being listed within a National list, category break downs are as follows: Companies with 10-29 people were considered for the Micro category; those with 30 to 99 people for the Small category; companies with 100 to 999 employees were considered for the Medium category; and those with 1,000 or more for the Large category. Some lists in certain countries may combine categories in which case that will be specified in the list breakdown.
While essay responses provide important context for rankings, only survey data can garner a list placement.

The data science behind this list from Great Place To Work®

Great Place To Work® has been surveying employees around the world about their workplace experiences for 30 years. We have developed a set of themes and metrics that not only predict whether employees feel their workplace is great, but predict retention, agility, and overall business success.  

Using our proprietary Trust Index™ survey, we measure the core of what we know creates great workplaces — key behaviors that drive trust in management, connection with colleagues, and loyalty to the company.  

The survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organization’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a five-point scale and answering two open-ended questions.

Employees tell us whether leaders are accessible, communicate honestly and clearly, and if their actions match their words. They tell us whether they feel respected as individuals, if they receive training benefits, appreciation, support for their well-being and opportunities to contribute. They tell us whether they believe their company is fair related to pay, profits, promotions, recognition, favoritism and opportunities. They tell us if they are proud of their work, their team, and their company, and if they feel they make a difference and their work is meaningful. And they tell us whether they enjoy the people they work with, feel cared for and can be themselves.  

List rankings are based on this employee feedback, which we analyze to determine the extent to which this experience is shared by the full workforce. Great Place To Work measures the differences in survey responses across demographic groups and roles within each organization to assess both the quality and consistency of the employee experience. Statements are weighted according to their relevance in describing the most important aspects of an equitable workplace. 

The best companies create great work experiences not just for management, but also for their part-time employees on the front lines, for those who’ve just joined and those who’ve spent their whole career there, for every race and ethnicity, gender, neurotype, or other demographic in the organization – we look at it all. Companies with the broadest set of employees who report positive workplace experience receive the highest rankings on lists.

In addition to analyzing employee feedback, for National List’s for companies in the Medium and Large size categories, we also consider what a company can tell us about their programs and workplace strategy. Each company also answers six essay questions that provide greater insight into how, and why the organization is great for all people. Responses are rigorously evaluated and cross-reviewed according to Great Place To Work’s research-driven criteria. From what companies share in datapoints and essays, we identify the organizations that offer the most generous, caring and innovative cultures that reflect a genuine commitment to meet the diversity of their people’s needs inside and outside the workplace as validated by what employees themselves report in survey results.
Where an industry list is being revealed (i.e. Healthcare, Technology) additional information provided from an organization in the form of a culture audit will not be considered; rather we analyze employee feedback from the Trust Index survey with the above methodology.

Because employee feedback drives these rankings, surveys must meet strict requirements for how they are distributed and the percentage of employees who respond to ensure they accurately represent honest feedback from the company’s full population. To be eligible for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™, have 10 or more employees in the country they are being Certified, and be operating in the industry relevant to a specific Industry list if applicable (i.e. Healthcare, Technology). If categories are being listed within a National list, category break downs are as follows: Companies with 10-29 people were considered for the Micro category; those with 30 to 99 people for the Small category; companies with 100 to 999 employees were considered for the Medium category; and those with 1,000 or more for the Large category. Some lists in certain countries may combine categories in which case that will be specified in the list breakdown.
While essay responses provide important context for rankings, only survey data can garner a list placement.