Your employees are the beating heart of your business. When you invest in them and their experience, you invest in your company growth, productivity and quality.
Engaged employees are like gold dust. We spend a lot of time and resources recruiting incredible talent but once they’re settled in, the temptation is to assume that as long as they are getting the work done, they are engaged – but that’s rarely the full picture.
No matter what size your business is, if you want it to run well, employee engagement should be a top priority. Your company culture directly affects your bottom line. Productivity, time management, quality, staff retention, customer communications and reputation will all likely be impacted by how engaged your employees are. Your employees are your biggest asset, so if they’re in direct communications with customers or key stakeholders or they are involved with the production of your product/s or services, how valued they feel will inevitably impact their output.
An engaged employee is someone that feels connected to their workplace. Taking time to measure employee engagement and creating a culture in which they feel valued and supported will mean you’ll have a team ready for anything, that can respond to crisis and weather any storm, and will be your advocates and allies.
So we know employee engagement is important, but how do you know if you’re doing it well? Employee engagement surveys are a tried and tested model for taking the pulse of workplace wellbeing. They are a way to directly measure employee engagement, allowing individuals to speak openly and honestly about their experiences at work.
Start with thinking through why you’re sending out the surveys and what you hope to learn. Are you open to honest feedback, whether positive or negative? Have you got the time, budget and staff to implement change, if required? Who should be involved in this process? Are all of your senior leadership team on board with the project? Who is responsible for spearheading the initiative, gathering, analysing and reporting on feedback? How will changes be implemented? Getting this aligned early on in the process makes everything much more straightforward when it comes to rolling out surveys.
Work out why you’re looking to gather this data, as measuring and building on employee engagement can have some seriously great outcomes, from improving retention to connecting the team to wider company goals.
In an ideal world, employee engagement is constantly developing and would be measured with a shorter ‘pulse’ survey once a week. In reality, for small businesses, finding the time and resources to support it can fall to the wayside as other aspects of the business take priority.
But if you’re looking to start measuring engagement, don’t fret! There are plenty of ways to run an employee engagement survey, including creating your own using an online form, like a SurveyMonkey, Typeform or Google form that allows multiple choice, check box/drop-down or free form answer fields. For small businesses with limited time and resources, one of the best ways is to download an interactive employee engagement survey template (and lucky for you, there’s one right here):
This survey template consists of a number of statements covering different areas of the role, the business, general work happiness and wellbeing, with sections on:
Employees can rate each statement, from ‘Strongly Agree’ to ‘Strongly Disagree’. These questions cover important areas that businesses will often want to gain input on – including feedback on senior management, the company culture and values, and pay & benefits. Importantly, they also cover employees’ thoughts – what they think about their work, colleagues and management, feelings – emotive aspects, such as pride in the organisation, and behaviour – their intention to stay and advocacy.
In terms of length, the Society of Human Resources and Management suggests a survey should take no more than 20-30 minutes to complete, and should avoid long, over-complicated questions and anything that feels leading. Therefore, this survey is designed to be a useful starting point for businesses setting out on their engagement journey, and should take no longer than 10-15 minutes for employees to complete.
To use this employee engagement survey template, send the PDF template to your staff and ask them to download it. This is an interactive PDF, so they will be able to check the relevant boxes and add any further comments at the bottom. Once they have filled it in, they can save it as a new file, and send it back to you.
Alternatively, if you want to add your own custom questions or use an online form that allows you to gather anonymous responses, this template provides a useful starting point to save you time crafting questions from scratch.
Now you have your engagement template ready, it’s time to start making a plan of how and when to send your survey.
Is this something you’d like to check in on regularly, helpful when you want to look at change over time? Or, would you like to take the pulse of the organisation at this one point in time? If you’ll be sending a survey weekly, or monthly, when is a good time to do it? Are you employees busy with incoming phone calls on a Monday morning, or meetings on a Wednesday? Consider how much time your employees will be setting aside for this task (and let them know in your introductory email); this allows employees to manage their time. It’s important to set a deadline, and let your team know if completion is voluntary or required. Again, this comes down to setting realistic expectations and clear visibility for your employees.
It can be helpful to pilot an engagement survey with a small group of employees before sending it out across the organisation and even run a discussion forum once it’s been completed. This will allow you to touch base on the practical things like format, best times to send and length.
As you introduce the survey, you want to make sure employees can see value in completing it. So, explain the purpose and the impact it can have. As mentioned previously, set expectations and communicate the scope of the project. Try to be open with your employees about what you’re looking to learn, and what impact you’d like to see the survey have. Make sure you discuss the time frame and clarify exactly how the information will be received (anonymously or not), stored and used. It’s also useful to let employees know how and when you’ll communicate results, if you plan to, and how and when actions will be taken.
Now you’ve got your survey results, it’s time to dissect it! Start with a clear outcome in mind, but bear in mind one of the most important pillars of engagement surveys is setting clear expectations as to what’s within your capabilities to act on. Asking employees for feedback and suggestions without the tools, budget or time to action any of their points, can make the process frustrating and needless. If you can explain the process, and set expectations, you’ll likely find your team will understand that there is a lot of scope between things that can be actioned immediately, and those that aren’t possible.
Firstly, get to know your unique key engagement drivers. Examples of a key driver could be relationships with co-workers or having meaningful work. Do you see any themes? Which key drivers are the most popular? You won’t be able to do everything straight away, so these will inform the actions that you decide to take.
Secondly, share the results with the senior leadership team, and encourage managers to decide on actions within their team, embracing any trends or themes. Support and follow up with managers on their action items and a timeline for implementing them. Finally, communicate survey results and changes that have been made directly with employees. Clear communication will set expectations for the next time you survey, and encourage employees to regularly contribute their feedback.
Off the back of your survey results, you’ll have plenty of ideas to make improvements to your company culture, compensation, communications, workspace strategy and office design.
Especially coming out of the pandemic, it’s worth thinking about how your workspace can improve or damage employee engagement. This is a unique time where remote working and office working are coexisting, and is a fantastic opportunity for physical workplaces to provide more than they have done before aside from physical space. A great workspace can offer what we miss, the ideas that come up in the kitchen over coffee, the momentum of a team heading in one direction. They can embrace the flexibility we need, but also make up for everything that’s lacking in our remote working world – leading to more engaged employees!
Happy employees are good for business. By listening and learning from your team, you’ll have engaged employees, and can create a happier, healthier, safer workplace in a very short space of time. You can positively impact staff retention, satisfaction, productivity and quality of output – the basics for running a successful business! You can also facilitate a culture of advocacy, trust and value, meaning that the amazing people on your payroll don’t think twice about staying and growing with your business.