Employee engagement. It’s a bit of a buzz word these days. But before we get into why it’s so important, let’s make sure we’re on the same page—what is it exactly?
As it turns out, there is no one universally accepted definition of employee engagement. In fact, it’s not that easy to articulate. Why don’t we start by considering what an engaged staff member looks like? While we may not agree on a definition, there are bound to be some common themes.
Here at SurveyMonkey, we believe an engaged employee is one that:
So, why is staff engagement a key ingredient for business success?
For a start, it affects staff retention. And with UK workers changing employers every five years on average and many sectors fiercely competing for the top talent, you need to do all you can to attract and keep the employees you need.
So we have some sense of what employee engagement is and why it’s important. But how do you measure it? Yes, you guessed it… a survey!
A staff engagement survey allows you to assess the extent to which your employees are engaged and compare this across your organisation or your industry. An in-depth survey will help you understand not just whether employees are engaged, but why, or why not. And that means you’ll be able to see which areas you need to work on.
Employee engagement is often confused with employee satisfaction. But they’re not the same thing. An engaged employee is most likely satisfied, but not all satisfied employees are engaged. Employee satisfaction surveys look at whether your employees enjoy working for you. This could include asking about wellbeing initiatives, pay, benefits, career development opportunities and the working environment.
Engagement is more complex. It often includes staff satisfaction but also considers other aspects like how motivated employees are, whether they feel proud to work for your organisation, their perceptions of the organisation’s mission and how committed they are to helping you achieve it. It looks at a deeper level of connection between an employee and their company.
It’s time to put together your very own survey. Our employee engagement survey template is a great place to start. Also, further down on this page, we’ve highlighted some key types of questions worth including, with examples. Remember, when you use a SurveyMonkey template, you can remove or amend the questions and answer options to suit your specific organisation. We recommend you start off with a comprehensive survey so that you can get an accurate overview of areas of strength and weakness.
But surveys are nothing without analysis of their results. Once the results are in, take an analytical look and draw comparisons across your organisation. Or compare with others in your industry with SurveyMonkey Benchmarks. Decide which areas to focus on. Consider which results are furthest from where you’d like them to be, along with which are easiest to address. Maybe your accounts team has outstanding teamwork and excellent morale while your customer service team is floundering. Look at potential causes, delving deeper with additional surveys, interviews or focus groups if you need.
Next, it’s time to create a plan. This should include the measures you’ll put in place to improve in the chosen areas. And tell your staff what you’re doing. This will help them feel listened to and make sure they’re aware of any new opportunities.
Then check in again. It’s important you send the same staff engagement survey out regularly so that you can track changes over time, for better or worse. This is the only way to see the impact of changes you’ve put in place. But you don’t want to annoy your employees with constant requests to complete long surveys. Once a year is probably enough.
But to make sure you keep an eye on things, you can use pulse surveys. Send these super short surveys to the same audience at regular intervals (such as monthly, quarterly, twice a year). They’re great for taking the temperature—or ahem, the pulse—of the relevant group and easily tracking how it changes over time.
Effective leadership and management are essential for employee engagement. Effective managers respect their staff, articulate company values, communicate well and follow up with appropriate actions. And this applies at every level of management. Not just the C-suite, but also the middle managers and those overseeing just one or two staff.
1. How clearly does your manager explain the organisation’s plans?
2. How realistic are the expectations of your manager?
3. How well does your manager handle employee problems?
4. How comfortable do you feel giving feedback to your manager?
5. What does the senior management team need to do to improve its performance?
Most people don’t want an easy job where they can coast along. They prefer to be challenged. They want to learn and grow. A job that challenges can be hugely motivating. But it’s also important for employees to understand how the work they do fits into the wider organisation. What impact does their hard work have?
6. How motivated do you feel in your current role?
7. I understand how my work impacts the organisation’s business goals.
8. How often do you feel challenged in your role?
9. What else do you think your organisation could do to motivate its employees?
Providing career support and development opportunities will help you keep your most ambitious employees. Ask whether they feel there’s room for career progression and what else you could do to improve in this area. Are you offering enough training courses, workshops or mentoring opportunities? Do they focus on developing the right skills? Find out if there are gaps to be filled.
10. I am satisfied with my opportunities for professional development
11. I am satisfied with the job-related training my organisation offers
12. I have access to the tools and resources I need to do my job well
Do your employees believe in what your organisation is trying to do? Do they want to see you succeed? When people take pride in their company, it shows. It means they’re committed to their work and will do their best to overcome obstacles.
13. Do you understand what your organisation’s mission is?
14. My organisation’s work positively impacts people’s lives
15. I am determined to give my best effort at work each day
16. I am proud of working for this organisation
Working relationships between colleagues significantly affect morale. Good teamwork can improve overall productivity and ensure individual employees are happy and feel positive about their work. Meanwhile, a negative working culture can add fuel to the smallest of fires. But how can you know if you’re not in the thick of it? You won’t know how your staff interact with each other, let alone how they view each other’s strengths and weaknesses. So make sure you include questions about teamwork and team atmosphere in your survey.
17. Employees proactively offer to help each other when the need arises
18. How positive is your working environment?
19. Employees here always keep going even when the going gets tough
20. How skilled at their jobs are the members of your team?