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Build a better, more productive workplace with an employee engagement survey

Go beyond employee satisfaction and measure what matters most

Engaged employees are more productive, and productive employees help make businesses more successful. This article will inform you about the importance of employee engagement and the benefits of an employee engagement survey.

Employee engagement is the extent to which employees feel valued and involved in their everyday work. There’s plenty of debate among human resources professionals and researchers about the particular dimensions that make up employee engagement. But at its core, it comes down to whether employees feel invested in their company’s mission and its success.

Running an employee engagement survey doesn’t just measure how happy employees are—it measures how dedicated they are to the mission and outcome of your company. Measuring employee engagement, then, is even more crucial: It’s an important indicator of the health of your business and a good way to spot areas for improvement.

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There are 4 distinct levels of employee engagement that can help establish a benchmark for future recurring surveys:

  1. Highly engaged employees: Highly engaged employees are brand advocates and have a favorable opinion about their company. They demonstrate a strong connection with their team and perform duties outside the scope of their job responsibilities to help the company succeed because they clearly understand their organization's overall goals and vision. 
  1. Moderately engaged employees: These employees may have a general understanding of their role in their company but barely work beyond their duties and responsibilities. These employees are dependable workers with the potential to excel. However, something is usually holding them back. 
  1. Barely engaged employees: Employees who are barely engaged and do the bare minimum (and sometimes less than that). These employees look at their work as a task. They usually don't clearly understand how important their role is toward the success of the company. Consequently, they're generally looking for other job opportunities.

  2. Disengaged employees: Disengaged employees are unhappy and demonstrate no commitment to their work responsibilities. The disconnection to their job duties, the company mission, and the company vision, aid in their discontentment.  They actively spread their negativity with colleagues.

When employees are engaged with their work, they’re more fulfilled and more motivated. That ultimately leads to higher productivity—as much as 22% in some cases.

Highly engaged employees typically have a forward-thinking disposition about their company. And because they’re always thinking of ways to improve work operations, they have a team-oriented mindset demonstrating strong leadership skills that can elevate those who are moderately and barely engaged. They may even be able to communicate with disengaged employees to give them a better sense of purpose and responsibility.

That’s why employee engagement is so important to the success of your organization. An engaged workforce results in a more productive — and profitable — organization. We’re not talking about tiny increments here, either. Gallup found that companies with highly engaged workforces outperformed their peers by 147% in earnings per share.

Performance like this just goes to show: Businesses not only should measure employee engagement—they can’t afford not to.

What’s the difference between employee engagement and employee satisfaction? While there’s overlap between the two, there are far more dimensions that define employee engagement than employee satisfaction. In other words, an engaged employee is most likely satisfied, but not all satisfied employees are engaged.

There’s a pretty robust debate among academics about what exact dimensions actually make up employee engagement. But based on an aggregate of findings from several recent studies on the matter, we can see that a good employee engagement survey will measure several factors, including:

Effective management can make or break your employee engagement. It’s not just whether your senior management treats employees well or whether they act ethically (of course, that’s important too!). It’s crucial to have effective leadership at every level of the organization. That means managers who articulate company values, communicate well, and follow up with appropriate actions. A good employee engagement survey will gauge these habits, from managers to C-level: You can use our management performance template.

Most people don’t actually want an easy job. They want to be challenged and tested in their day-to-day work. Challenging work can be immensely motivating for employees—as long as employees can see clearly how their work ties to the company’s performance. Use your employee engagement survey to ask your employees how challenging (and motivating) their work is—and whether there’s a clear line of sight between their performance and the company’s.

Ambitious employees are a good thing. They can be the most self-motivated and productive members of your team—as long as it’s clear to them how you can help them advance in their career. If it’s not, you’ll risk losing them. Clarity around career goals is important, but you’ve also got to offer a helping hand. Are your employees getting support from educational and mentoring opportunities? Running an employee engagement survey can help you find out if your employees can see a clear path forward and if they have the support they need to get where they want to go.

When employees are proud of where they work, it shows. They’re true believers in your mission and they want to see your company succeed. That attitude translates to their performance: When people take pride in their company, they’ll take pride in their work. Fostering this feeling of pride isn’t just about making employees feel good about themselves. It makes them show up to work focused, aligned with their peers, and ready to tackle problems with commitment.

It goes without saying that we spend a lot of time interacting with our coworkers. In companies of every size, it’s important to think about the working relationships between employees: how they interact, how they view each other’s abilities, and what they see as the strengths and weaknesses of the workforce. How employees view their colleagues can have huge impact on their morale and faith in meeting company goals. Employee survey questions aimed at these issues should be a huge part of any employee engagement strategies you implement.

Simply measuring employee engagement isn’t enough to foster an engaged workforce. You’ve got to read the results, uncover areas for improvement, and implement employee engagement strategies to meet them. That’s where the real work begins.

Maybe you’re interested in measuring and improving only a few of the factors of employee engagement. For example, you may only be interested in taking a closer look at how management performance is affecting employee engagement in your company. You may want to use the management performance survey template or extract only the portion of the employee engagement survey template that deals with management performance.

But if you’re really focused on using surveys to develop employee engagement strategies, this probably isn’t the best approach. When you home in on a specific topic from the beginning, you may miss out on other areas for improvement. What if career development opportunities—not management performance—are a bigger factor for employee engagement in your workforce?

If you’re trying to develop an overarching employee engagement strategy, it’s best to be comprehensive first and focus on specific parts second.

Get a pulse on every factor affecting your employee engagement: Our employee engagement survey template is specifically designed to provide a comprehensive look at the issue. Try it out

Once you’ve run your survey and found what areas need improvement, you’ve got to start prioritizing. Your first reaction will probably be to try to address every single area that received a less-than-perfect score. Try to suppress that reaction. You’ll only end up stretching your managers and resources too far, which will lead to mediocre results.

Instead, try to identify a few key drivers of your employee engagement and focus solely on those. Prioritizing only a few can be tough. To help narrow it down, ask yourself two questions:

  1. “Where can I use my resources so that they’re likely to have the largest impact on employee engagement?” Look for the places where your survey results are furthest from where you’d like them to be.
  2. “Which actions will use my resources most efficiently?” Think about which areas will be easiest to address—perhaps by using existing resources or expertise.

Whichever action you choose, it’s important you communicate your plan to your employees and make sure they understand how and when you’ll carry it out. Transparency is crucial to this process. We advocate for keeping your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

How can you tell if your plan is having a positive effect? By sending an employee engagement survey, of course. The key to continue improving your employee engagement is to measure it consistently and measure it often.

The benefits of employee engagement surveys provide you with another way to communicate with employees. They give you more insight into company operations that can help you create a better work environment. These surveys can also allow employees to voice concerns, ideas, and questions. The survey approach can increase employee satisfaction, resulting in happier employees with a better sense of belonging. This positive attitude can impact employee morale, which can increase higher retention rates. 

Here's a 6-step list of the advantages of employee engagement surveys:

Employee engagement surveys can help you better understand how your employees feel about their job, management, and company. It shows them you care about their thoughts and that their opinions matter. Sending out employee engagement surveys frequently communicates to workers that you are listening to them. This approach can make your employees feel valued and appreciated. Surveys can also help you assess which level of employee engagement each person ranks. And this allows you to highlight high-performing employees who may have gone unnoticed.

Providing a platform where employees are encouraged to voice their thoughts, concerns, and opinions about their organization can create a culture where people are more comfortable. Comfortable employees are happier ones. Employee engagement surveys also open the lines of communication for clarity to avoid misunderstandings while providing constructive criticism. This improves everyone’s work performance and the overall success of the organization. 

Highly-engaged employees are more aware of their work surroundings because they're fully present and averted from distractions outside their job. A higher awareness of surroundings in the workplace can result in fewer mishaps. Employee engagement surveys can inform you of potential hazards on the job. And you can also learn ideas from respondents on maintaining a safe work environment.     

Employee satisfaction is directly related to employee morale. So, if you want to maintain a high level of employee morale, it's recommended to try and keep employees happy. Surveys can help you gauge employee satisfaction with questions about their job and their future with your company. You can learn about their feelings toward their co-workers and management—and if they'd recommend your business to others. 

Make sure quality workers are appreciated with recognition and rewards. Employees who feel valued are more likely to refrain from finding employment elsewhere. Employee engagement surveys can help you detect employees who might be dissatisfied with their jobs. These insights empower you to implement reward incentives and team-oriented exercises that can make employees more engaged in the work culture.  

An employee engagement survey benefits company culture for the better because they give you insight into your operations' inner workings. And the feedback you receive allows you to detect pain points that may require restructuring. The information can results in positive change, happier and more engaged employees, increased performance, and happy customers.

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