5 Things to Avoid When Running Employee Engagement Surveys

It’s not enough to simply tick a box and gather feedback via engagement surveys.

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5 Things to Avoid When Running Employee Engagement Surveys
You must make sure you design employee engagement surveys properly and be transparent about the results

Here's what you need to know about what to avoid when running employee engagement surveys:

  • A lack of transparency will cause your employees to question your sincerity.
  • Poor data security and privacy will undermine employees' confidence in survey results.
  • Using generalized questions that aren't designed toward your goals will result in an ineffective survey.
  • Failure to compare results year-over-year will keep you from reaching your long-term goals.
  • Choosing to keep everything the same after you receive survey results will keep team members from completing surveys in the future.

One of the biggest issues companies face is disengaged workers, with only 40% of workers feeling actively engaged at work. For a company to thrive in today’s market, it’s key to listen to your people and apply their feedback. Making sure your team is feeling engaged will set you apart from other employers.

Engagement surveys help:

  • Measure your company (or department) performance
  • Collect feedback
  • Find areas that require intervention and improvement

If you’re not sure where to start in understanding your people’s level of engagement, this is a great way to begin benchmarking.

How you can use engagement surveys

Using employee surveys helps you take a deep dive into areas of engagement (e.g., culture, growth opportunities, etc.). To get there, intentionally designed surveys include a variety of question formats (e.g., open-ended, scaled, etc.) to get specific information. You can read more about creating an effective engagement survey using our guides to:

Engagement surveys can provide insight that can help you transform your organization when they’re used correctly. That said, before you hit send on your survey, make sure you avoid the following 5 mistakes.

Misstep 1: Lack of transparency after results are in

Engagement surveys tend to be on the longer side, and employees are taking time out of their busy workday to share their sentiments. It’s important that you remain transparent about the results and how you plan on applying them.

Sharing engagement survey results with your workforce lets your employees know that their answers were valued and reviewed. It also creates a culture of openness and tells your employees you’re comfortable talking about different, and even difficult, topics.

If employee responses aren’t shared or are kept for management eyes only, there’s a good chance your employees won’t bother filling out surveys in the future. It will also breed distrust. Even if the results are negative, it’s worthwhile to share them rather than try to hide the results.

Misstep 2: Not having a secure database to store responses

Privacy, security, and anonymity are fundamental elements of employee engagement surveys, so even small companies should be using cloud-based software for storing responses. Without this, you risk not protecting your employees’ personal information. This can also lead to distrust between employers and employees.

Effective software programs will allow your company to streamline your approach to employee feedback, help you measure and analyze answers, and compare results over time to gauge where management is improving, compared with areas that still need focus (more on this under point 4). If you’re new to creating engagement surveys, Zenefits’ software also has pre-populated templates that let you:

  • Build
  • Communicate
  • Send surveys to your workforce

Keeping your employees’ feedback secure will go a long way toward building trust and credibility.

Misstep 3: Poorly designed questions

Each question on your engagement survey should have a clear goal in mind and be relevant. Since your employees are taking time out of their day to provide you with feedback, so each question should serve a purpose for management.

This means:

  • No filler questions
  • Each question should be designed to provide valuable feedback
  • Questions should be in the proper format with proper scales

If there is a question on your survey that does not give you meaningful data or doesn’t lead to a possible change, remove it!

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Misstep 4: Using surveys that don’t compare results over time

Employee engagement surveys are not a one-and-done deal. So, the bottom line is that results should be analyzed over time to measure what areas are improving and which ones still need some attention.

For this reason, you’ll want to build an employee engagement survey that remains relevant over time, with consistent questions so the data (i.e., the responses) can be compared. This will make it easier for you to spot trends.

If you’re trying to measure engagement about something that’s new, or related to current events, consider using a pulse survey instead!

Misstep 5: Not applying the engagement survey feedback

It’s critical to put an action plan in place after analyzing your results. This falls under the scope of change management, and your company should create goals and a project plan to achieve these goals.

If you don’t apply the results, you signal to your people that the survey and their feedback are meaningless and won’t lead to any real changes. With that in mind, not making changes based on the survey results unintentionally ends up encouraging a lack of trust in management and even more employee disengagement.

It makes good business sense for your company to ensure that employees are engaged to hit your bottom-line goals.

Engaged workers are more profitable and less likely to leave. Therefore, engagement surveys, when built properly, can help your organization assess what areas need intervention to keep your people happy and engaged.

Make your employee engagement surveys worthwhile

Most companies, both large and small, understand the importance of checking in with their people and gauging engagement levels. Accordingly, when these surveys are done in a timely way, soliciting anonymous feedback can provide your HR department with invaluable insight. After all, your people are your most important resource.

The key takeaway here is that it’s not enough to simply tick a box and gather feedback via engagement surveys. All things considered, you must also properly design the survey and be transparent about the results. Then some of the hardest work comes in: Taking steps to make adjustments and pivot your business based on the results.

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