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Employee EngagementMarch 15, 2021

Best practices for employee engagement surveys

Woman at laptop taking employee engagement surveyy

In this article, we have a look at the best practices for employee engagement surveys, and some of the most common pitfalls to avoid. Collecting employee feedback is an important step in improving the employee experience, but it is important to do it in the right way.

Employee engagement surveys: best practices

  1. Use real-time pulse surveys to measure employee engagement

  2. Decide on follow-up routines and stick to them 

  3. Use open-ended questions in your surveys

  4. Measure eNPS (Employee Net Promotor Score)

  5. Set the expectations and communicate them to everyone

  6. Empower self-leadership and create a culture of accountability

  7. Ensure there’s a feedback loop in place from the start

  8. Integrate your surveys with your tech stack to increase employee survey participation

  9. Customize your employee surveys to suit your brand and Tone of Voice

  10. Complement employee engagement surveys with performance management programs

Employee engagement surveys are a powerful tool for transforming and improving company culture and performance, and for improving the employee experience. Studies show that average employee engagement levels are depressingly low, and many companies struggle with this issue in one way or another.

Implementing employee engagement surveys is a great step in improving employee engagement, employee satisfaction, and performance. The old adage that “what gets measured gets managed” holds as true in this context as in any, so if you’re just about to start measuring engagement – way to go! 

In this article, we’ll have a look at employee engagement survey best practices, as well as some of the most common pitfalls. We'll also highlight the different ways that Eletive supports employee survey best practices.

Use real-time pulse surveys to measure employee engagement

Historically, many companies have measured employee engagement with one, big, yearly survey. The problem with this approach is that it only gives a snapshot of the state of things at that particular moment in time.

But engagement and well-being are not static concepts, and they tend to change quite a lot over the year. Managers quit, new co-workers join, roles change and budgets are adjusted. The only thing constant in a business is change, so what you really need is an agile and flexible way to measure things – so you can track your progress and compare your employee engagement data to internal and external benchmarks. Employee pulse surveys will provide you with a continuously updated overview.

💡 Eletive offers a flexible technology that allows you to quickly and easily send out pulse surveys with the frequency best suited for your company. Read more about employee surveys and benchmarking >>

Decide on follow-up routines and stick to them 

If you’re just about to introduce employee engagement pulse surveys, or if you’re implementing a new tool, informing and educating every part of the organisation is crucial. Make sure everyone understands what the purpose of the surveys is, and what will happen with the responses. 

Discuss with your leaders before the first employee engagement survey is launched, and decide on follow-up routines. It’s important that everybody knows what to do when the employee engagement survey goes live. How often will send the pulse survey, and how will you follow up on the results with the team? 

💡 With Eletive, you get a ready-made structure for action plans and follow-up, to support you and your leaders in making the most of the results.

Use open-ended questions in your surveys

To understand what matters most to your employees, we always recommend that you add an open-ended text question at the beginning when you create a survey, to get valuable information from your employees that cannot be covered with a standardized question battery.  

An open-ended question is the opposite of a closed-ended question requiring a simple yes or no answer. These are instead questions that require more detailed responses. Open-ended questions are important for employee surveys, as they provide an opportunity to give more in-depth answers.

💡 With Eletive you can easily add both open-ended and closed-ended questions to your surveys. Read more about different types of employee survey questions >>

Measure eNPS (Employee Net Promotor Score)

The questions in employee surveys give you valuable insights into the different drivers of employee engagement. But to get an overview of the overall level of employee satisfaction in your organization, it's good practice to also measure eNPS, which is short for Employee Net Promotor Score. This is done with one single question, that can be added to your surveys:

"How likely is it that you would recommend your employer to a friend or acquaintance?"

The answer options range from 0 to 10, where 10 means “Extremely likely” and 0 means “Not at all likely”. The responses are then divided into Promoters (9, 10), Passives (7,8), and Detractors (0-6).

Recommended reading: Measure and increase eNPS

Set the expectations and communicate them to everyone

Communication is a key ingredient in creating a culture of engagement. Make sure everyone in the organisation knows the purpose of the employee engagement surveys, how they benefit from them, and what is expected from their side. Below are examples of what can be communicated in advance.

Managers are key players in the process and need to:

  • Have easy access to their team’s pulse survey results

  • Regularly discuss and follow up on survey results with their team

  • Develop and implement action plans together with their teams

  • Communicate regular progress updates to team members and management 

Team members are also expected to play an active role and:

  • Take part in the follow-up meetings, and contribute to the discussion

  • Keep track of their own engagement curve, and think about how it can be improved

  • Show self-leadership and take ownership of issues that lies within their control

  • Turn to their manager for support when needed

Empower self-leadership and create a culture of accountability

Pick a tool for your employee engagement surveys that supports self-leadership. Too often, the survey results tend to become “a problem for HR to solve”, while the rest of the organisation sits back and waits for solutions. This is not a constructive situation, and by implementing the right tools and adopting the right mindset, it can be avoided. 

💡 Eletive empowers self-leadership within the organisation. The best results are achieved when team leads continuously review the overall trends together with the team, and decide on what actions are needed – together. Read more about self-leadership >>

Encourage employees to take a clear stance

Let your employees know that you want them to be sincere and to express their true opinion in the survey. This comes more or less naturally in different cultures and contexts, and it’s often a good idea to underline that it is not perceived as disloyal in any way to answer with low scores. Quite the opposite – by giving an honest review, your employees provide the best possible data for everyone in the organisation to act on in order to improve things. 

💡 With Eletive, you decide if you want to use the functionality that allows employees to leave feedback in the form of comments. We encourage companies to use this feature since it adds nuance and depth to the answers.

Make sure there’s a feedback loop in place from the start

Many organisations have made the classic mistake of launching an anonymous employee engagement survey, without any feedback loop built into the tool they use. What happens then is that you may end up with sensitive and possibly alarming information – but there is no way for you to dig deeper and investigate. An example could be a comment about sexual harassment. Since you do not know who made it, it can be difficult to act on the information.

💡 Eletive solves this problem with an anonymous chat and a whistleblowing channel where employees can chat with leaders without showing their identity. This is a powerful tool for creating an organisation where everyone feels safe. Read more about the whistleblowing channel >>

Integrate your surveys with your tech stack to increase employee survey participation

To maximise employee survey participation, to make it as convenient and straightforward as possible for employees to respond to the survey. By integrating your survey tool with the calendars and communication apps you use, your employees will get reminded to answer the survey inside the apps where they spend most of their time. So, for example, they'll get a reminder on slack with a link to the survey, and then all it takes is a click to open it and a few more clicks to answer it. No interruption, no need to log in or out of systems, which makes a big difference. This has a dramatic effect on response rates.

💡 Eletive integrates with your calendars and communication apps, such MS Teams and Google, and "Single Sign-On" or SSO allows users to sign in to Eletive using their existing company identities. Learn more about integrations >>

Customise your employee surveys to suit your brand and Tone of Voice

Employee surveys should be seen as a part of your whole employee communication strategy. By branding them with a powerful logo and brand colours, and by adjusting notifications, invitations, and sometimes also questions to your brand's Tone of Voice, the surveys can help reinforce your brand internally.

Complement employee engagement surveys with performance management programs

One-on-one meetings, regular check-ins, and performance reviews are all important – both to drive engagement and performance. They help managers understand each individual’s needs, challenges, and potential, and enable them to support their employee’s goals. 

Many companies lack a formal structure for these interactions and a common place to save the data related to them. This can result in unfair reviews, and processes that differ widely across the organization. 

💡 Eletive entails a complete infrastructure for performance measurement. By bringing 1:1s, action plans, 360 feedback surveys, and OKRs into the same platform, companies gain a better overview and alignment and can work together to improve results.

Are you curious to learn more about how your organisation could benefit from a modern people success platform? Get in touch and talk to one of our friendly experts!

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