Business of Well-being

Strengthen Engagement with Surveys

A survey provides employees the opportunity to voice their opinions and strengthens overall engagement and corporate wellness. As employees see their ideas implemented, they feel integral to the team's success. Consider conducting surveys throughout the year on various topics to receive constant feedback.

It is a win/win as employees are given the opportunity to speak up and management is provided with a stream of fresh suggestions. The remainder of the article discusses guidelines on engagement surveys.

How to Announce Surveys

Senior leadership sending the message of the survey's importance, the purpose and making employees stakeholders aids in higher levels of participation and candid responses. However, you still need to ensure it is communicated that the survey responses will remain anonymous. Additionally, provide employees the necessary time to complete the survey.

On the actual execution of the surveys, use an outside firm or one of the tools on the market such as SurveyMonkey, Zoomerang, Google Forms or SurveyGizmo. The online tools are used to effectively manage the distribution and collection of response data.

As soon as answers start to come in to surveys, ready-made reports are available from the reports module. The tools have the ability to generate reports as HTML for online viewing, as PDF for printing, or publish reports. Additionally, reports can be customized adding data filters for more detailed analysis, and the data can also be exported.

When to Conduct

As a management team, if we find ourselves asking "what is best for the employees?" or "how this change would impact morale?" take the time to conduct a short survey on the topic. For instance, at Actualize Consulting, we were experiencing low turn-out for social events, so we decided to ask employees their preferences on the where, what and when of each event.

As a result, we have increased our participation rates to close to full attendance for all events because we listened to the responses and went with the majority. We can plan, ponder and try to assume what will work, however by asking for input we foster a sense of community, which in turns enhances feelings of involvement and belonging.

What Questions to Ask

Keep surveys short and provide space for commentary. Many times surveys have only multiple choices, yet we have found by asking a question with space to formulate thoughts freely, we reveal many more insights. Our annual survey used to be over 30 questions and it was challenging to decipher the actual results and what employees truly desired. In the last two years, we streamlined and ask the following questions annually:

  1. What is your favorite thing about working for the firm?
  2. What would you like to see the firm accomplish in the upcoming year?
  3. What project have you enjoyed working on most while with us, and what were the main factors making it enjoyable?
  4. What aspects of your role and activities at our firm motivate you?
  5. Are there any aspects of the company that make your life or job more difficult than they need to be? If so, please list them as well as what we could do to remove these obstacles.
  6. Any other feedback you would like to share? Any other suggestions?

How to Implement Suggestions

Being open and honest is critical to communicating employee survey results. Don't try to position results to be better or worse than they are. Talk openly about the results. Communicating survey results sets the tone for receiving continued honest employee feedback and their ideas for improvement. Being open builds trust.

Take feedback seriously and implement changes where it's possible. This increases engagement by showing employees that management is listening to them. Communicating results timely after the completion of the survey is critical for continued participation in the future.

One of the most effective ways to share survey data is to have action planning meetings to share the results and make them-the individual employees-responsible for coming up with the best solutions to implement suggested organizational changes so they have ownership in the process.

Rather than trying to improve all dimensions at once, we encourage companies to focus on only one or two critical items with each survey cycle (another reason to ideally conduct more than once a year). Each manager should facilitate the action planning meeting and ensure action is taken on suggestions (e.g., "Our lowest score was on transparency. Why do you think that is? Who has an idea of what we could do to improve in this area?").

It is also important to be transparent for the changes that are not feasible or practical and explain why. If employees know why, they are less likely to be upset about their suggestions not being taken into consideration. As Walt Disney believed, "Employees will only complain or make suggestions three times on the average without a response. After that they conclude that if they don't keep quiet they will be thought to be troublemakers or that management doesn't care."

Following Up

After the action plans are in place, remember to communicate on executed items. Many times, firms fail to loop employees in when items on the list are complete. By letting the team in on the positive progress of the action plans they developed, it continues to mold a culture of unity.

In conclusion, utilize the knowledge and value each individual brings to the table. "In the long history of humankind those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed," as said Charles Darwin.

About the Author

Kerry Alison Wekelo is the Director of Operations at Actualize Consulting where her Leadership and Wellness programs have successfully influenced a teamwork environment. Contact Kerry at

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