Employee Engagement Surveys: Your Ultimate Guide

on employee engagement


What do you love about working in HR?

We think “making a real difference to colleagues’ happiness at work” is definitely up there. Let’s be honest, it’s not the vast, under-appreciated number of admin hours you put in…

This is why you really should get excited about employee engagement—which is essentially making sure your workplace conditions allow your staff to give their best each day and to engage with your organization’s goals. Employee engagement is all about making people’s lives easier, if we had to use fewer words.

More Specifically, Why Are Employee Engagement Surveys Important?

Quickfire employee engagement surveys are hands-down the best way of tracking and improving your employees’ morale and productivity because:

  • They flag up productivity drains so you can remove them
  • Your employees feel happy when they are listened to
  • If you don’t listen to your employees or address their concerns, they will eventually become disenchanted and leave

Framed in the simplest terms, employee engagement is also an employee retention issue. Finding new talent is expensive and disruptive—far better to nurture what you already have, which is why we’ve created this handy guide to how to organise the perfect employee engagement survey.

We’ll start with the one thing that will make or break your efforts...

…(drum roll please)...

Planning Your Employee Engagement Survey

Hard truth: if you don’t put time and effort into planning your employee engagement survey, you will get mediocre results, if you’re lucky.

The good news? This doesn’t need to be difficult. With a bit of planning, you can build surveys which get great completion rates and allow you to really improve things for your colleagues based on meaningful feedback.

When planning your survey, follow these three simple rules:

Keep it Focused

First rule of employee engagement surveys: limit the things that people can complain about.

That sounds more cynical than it should—it’s really an entirely practical point. Ask yourself whether your HR team has the time and budget to address every grievance anyone’s ever had with the company. The answer’s probably a solid no, so don’t open the floodgates.

Instead, choose a particular area to target with each survey that you do. You could consider:

  • Relationships with management
  • Pay and benefits
  • Facilities
  • Employee wellness

Keep it Quick

Your workforce is busy. Remember that, and make it your mantra when planning any employee engagement activity. Especially so, if you work at a fast-paced frontline industry such as transit, construction services, or hospitality.

Surveys with questions that require long, typed responses typically get pushed to the bottom of people’s to-do list, right down there with "organizing a thorough audit of our pre-2010 paper files" and "doing the tea round for my bizarrely fussy team of 15 people."

Instead, aim for quick, easy-to-answer yes/no questions or "answer on a scale" questions. By all means give people space to expand on their answers if they want to, but don’t make this compulsory. Your response rates will plummet if you do.

You might see surveys with these types of questions called pulse surveys. If you plan these well and do them regularly, they’re a great way of creating a cycle of continuous improvement.

Keep it Measurable

Another key benefit of those quickfire questions: they guarantee measurable results. Yes/no questions in particular also eliminate the "not sure" option, which stops employees from sitting on the fence.

You need results you can act on because:

  1. It’s the entire point of an employee engagement survey. Why go to all the effort if you can’t make changes as a result?
  2. If people don’t see you making changes, they won’t complete future surveys. You’ll have less data with which to make changes next time round, so you’ll make fewer changes so people get even more disenchanted....it’s a vicious circle.

Employee engagement survey questions you could ask

If you’re stuck for ideas, these yes/no questions are a good place to start:

Relationships with management

  • Management seem in touch with issues that affect me
  • I communicate with my manager regularly
  • I know what our company’s core values are
  • Management provides clear direction and leadership

Pay and benefits

  • I feel that I am paid in line with what’s expected for this type of job
  • My employee benefits package makes a positive difference to my life
  • I know how to claim back money I spend on dental appointments
  • I trust that I will be paid on time, with no errors in how much I am paid


  • I can always find something I can eat at the cafeteria
  • Our facilities are wheelchair accessible
  • The kitchen is generally kept tidy and clean
  • I am provided with the right equipment to do my job safely

Employee wellness

  • My manager gives me time to work on my professional development plan
  • I feel I can complete my work more or less within my contracted hours
  • I don’t regularly lose sleep over my work
  • I’d feel comfortable discussing work-related problems with my line manager

Carrying Out Your Employee Engagement Survey

Planned the slickest employee engagement survey you possibly can?

Good. Now it’s time to send it out into the wild. Here’s how you do that:

Make Sure People See It

You’re not bound by desktop and email anymore.

Don’t get us wrong, email has its place, but using it to conduct employee engagement surveys makes it difficult for non-office based staff and off-site workers to complete them, as they don’t spend much time behind a computer screen.

Conducting your employee engagement survey via a employee app is quicker, easier and so much more inclusive for these groups, and is just as easy for your office workers to complete. Even better if you can use that app to replace your clunky old intranet and integrate employee engagement surveys with the rest of your internal comms.

True, you might need to do a bit of legwork beforehand to make sure people download and use the app (and that’s another topic for another article), but once you’ve got it up and running, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

Send Reminders

Just a quick, does-what-it-says-on-the-tin point here: after an initial wave of completions, your response rate will slow down.

This is normal, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for it. Keep responses coming in by reminding people.

Remind them in person. Remind them via their line managers. Remind them via push notification if you’ve been proactive and opted to conduct the survey via an app. People will still be happy to complete your employee engagement survey, as long as you make sure it stays fresh in their memory.

Analyse Your Results

Before doing anything else, figure out what success looks like. 53% of people being satisfied with their line manager might be a majority, but that still leaves nearly half the company unhappy with how they’re being managed. Depending on the size of your organisation, you might want to consider anything below an 80% positive answer as a potential area for improvement.

When you make changes as a result of your employee engagement survey, you’ll need to encourage the relevant departments to buy into the changes you’d like to make—particularly if they involve spending money, so don’t get discouraged if you can’t improve absolutely everything. Divide your wish list into smaller essential, nice to have and added bonus sections so you and your team know what you really want and what you’re happy to ease off on.

This will take a bit of time. Make sure that you tell people this—a quick “thanks for sharing your thoughts, we’ll be back with an update next month once we’ve discussed how to address the points you raised” is all that’s needed to assure people that you’re taking their responses seriously.

Tell the Would What You're Doing to Make Things Better

Now’s not the time to be shy—you’ve put a fair amount of effort into this survey after all!

For transparency’s sake it’s always good to include the raw results from your survey for those who want to read them, but don’t stop there—signpost your conclusions and what actions you’re taking.

You don’t need paragraphs and paragraphs of information—it could just be as simple as:

“We noticed that 70% didn’t think that management kept you in the loop about overall company strategy, so starting next Monday our senior staff will hold monthly all hands sessions to keep everyone informed.”

On a final note, it’s important to explain these conclusions face-to-face, no matter how technologically advanced you are. It’s called Human Resources for a reason. Brief line managers so that they can discuss the results with their direct reports, and make yourself visible by organising drop-in sessions for anyone who wants to discuss things further.

Ready to go? Best of luck, and let us know how you get on. You’ve got this.

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