As a team leader, you know that employee engagement surveys can give you invaluable insights into company culture, employee satisfaction, team well-being, and much more. You hold engagement surveys, follow all the best practices, and do your best to make sure everyone takes part.

You have the results; but what next? How can your survey results help you spot areas for improvement and map out potential action plans? Read on for ideas about how to use employee survey results to promote a healthier, more productive organization.

Communicate the employee engagement survey process

Before you analyze engagement survey data and start your action planning process, take a moment to thank your team for participating in the survey. Answering employee surveys takes time and thought, and your team members deserve acknowledgment for their contribution. This hat tip can take the form of a brief email or even a verbal message.

This is also a good time to mention any employee participation rewards your company may provide for those who answered survey questions.

It's also useful to outline how the company intends to use its employees' feedback. For example, you can say: "Your responses will play a major role in our action plan to improve employee engagement levels and create a better company culture."

In short, a simple “thank you” goes a long way. Employees who feel their managers recognize their contributions are happier, more engaged, and more loyal to their organization.

Review and analyze the employee engagement survey results

What do your survey results mean? In-depth analysis is a vital step in moving from raw data to understanding employee engagement survey results and what they mean for your company. Choosing the right survey tools will make it easier to interpret your results and answer questions such as:

  • What are some key themes in employees' responses? For example, do many of your employees point out difficulties in communication with their managers?
  • How does employee feedback compare between different demographics? For example, a good percentage of employees aged 45 and younger may state that they are interested in flexible work hours, while those closer to retirement might prioritize their financial wellness.
  • How do survey results differ between various departments or teams? Your survey may uncover that satisfaction levels are 15% higher in the research and development department compared to the marketing department, for example.

What changed since your previous employee survey?

If you have already run employee surveys before, comparing the current results with previous answers can show you changes in important metrics like staff engagement, satisfaction, and communication.

For example: "Our latest survey shows that compared to January last year, the number of employees who state they enjoy a positive work-life balance increased by 20%."

Once you distill the employee engagement survey results into a list of main points, you can present this data to company managers and discuss:

  • What are our key takeaways from the survey results?
  • Can we identify areas for improvement? (i.e. workflow, communication, cohesion, etc.)
  • What action plan do we propose? (i.e. employee engagement initiatives, workplace wellness programs, etc.)

Consider influencing factors

As you analyze survey results, keep in mind that several factors can influence your metrics. These may include:

  • Timing. Could an approaching holiday season explain a slump in motivation? Did you run the survey in August when half the department was on vacation?
  • Changes in the organization's size. If your company grew from 10 to 100 employees in a year, this will naturally influence team dynamics and engagement.
  • Context. Did your survey coincide with a big company triumph, like a successful product launch, or a turbulent period like changes in management?

Share the survey findings with your team

Now that you have your employee engagement survey takeaways, human resources can communicate results to the entire team, starting with company leadership and managers. The managers' involvement and cooperation in action planning will play a major role in using survey data to promote company goals.

The role of leaders and managers

Discuss results with managers and heads of departments from the unique perspective of each team. After looking at the macro-level results, it’s useful to zero in on the findings for different departments and teams.

For example, you might point out to a manager: "We see that your team members are happy with collaboration and teamwork within the department. However, your particular department's responses also point to a high level of workload stress. How do you think we can change these dynamics?"

It’s vital for leaders and managers to keep an open mind when looking at survey statistics. It's tempting to say, "I have been working extra hard with and for my team this quarter. I don't think it makes sense for my team's engagement scores to go down. Maybe the survey questions were unclear or something was wrong with the survey process."

With an empathetic, caring approach, the HR team can help managers take survey feedback in a positive direction and plan ahead for improvement.

Communication with employees

Once organization leaders and managers understand the survey results and have a broad idea of a workable action plan, it's time for open discussion with your employees. Each manager can give their team the result highlights, like satisfaction scores and other critical findings.

💡Pro tip: Stories work better than numbers for engaging employees. Rather than saying, "Our engagement scores improved by 7.5% in the last 12 months," try: "We are proud to say that most of our team members are happy working at our organization. We hope to use the latest employee engagement survey results to create an even better and more supportive work environment in our company."

Conduct follow-up team and one-on-one meetings

Following up lets employees know that the company leadership cares about their feedback. Follow-up meetings after a survey are like saying, "When we run a survey, we don't just gather the data and forget about it. We take the time to see what survey results mean for day-to-day teamwork and how we can grow together."

In large organizations, individual employees may often feel overlooked or disconnected. A department or team meeting to discuss survey results creates a more approachable, personalized vibe and allows employees to give their managers additional helpful feedback.

Managers can take this opportunity to initiate an open-ended discussion attuned to the team's needs: "According to the survey results, employee stress levels in our department are 40% higher compared to the rest of the organization. What do you think about this and how can we create a more balanced work environment?"

If possible, managers might also discuss the survey with employees in individual follow-up meetings that provide a safe space for workers to air their concerns, questions, and insights. A one-on-one meeting may help an employee open up about some issues that they wouldn't feel comfortable discussing in front of the team like mental health challenges that affect their productivity.

Create action plans based on employee feedback

After you've analyzed survey findings, shared key data with managers, and promoted team meetings to discuss the results, you can start the action planning process. If this is your organization's first major survey, it might seem like every area needs improvement.

As you prepare for action planning, remember that successful long-term change can start small. A gradual but consistent reform may prove more effective than a dramatic overhaul. To put recommendations into action, we suggest that you:

  • Choose a few areas where you can achieve improvement quickly. Let your action planning concentrate on these points to carry out change and gain momentum.
  • Be specific in actions and timelines. For instance, rather than say, "We will assign a mentor to all newly onboarded employees," say, "All new employees will undergo an onboarding period of one month, during which their mentor will touch base with them daily."
  • Appoint a leader responsible for carrying out the plan. For example, if your goal is creating a better workflow, assign a manager who will monitor workloads and ensure that important tasks get resolved when employees are at their most productive.

Act on the plan

Once you have a detailed plan, announce it to your employees. Doing this will promote transparent communication and team engagement. Here are a few examples:

  • "To improve work-life balance for employees in our organization, we will limit all work-related communication to work hours, except in emergencies."
  • "In an effort to promote better eating habits in our company, beginning next week, we'll provide all our employees with healthy snacks and beverages throughout the day."
  • "We have purchased new task management software to improve efficiency, productivity, and communication. We'll provide tutorials and individual support."

Communicate progress regularly

Once you follow through on the first stage of your action plans, monitor their effects to see if the results match your expectations. Consider running targeted follow-up surveys that focus on the specific change you're implementing within the company. These surveys will let you know how well your plan is working and what you can do to improve it.

Above all, don't hesitate to fine-tune any plans that fail to meet expectations. A workplace initiative or a wellness program may look good on paper, but does it actually tap into your team's key drivers? Continue engaging with the people in your organization to gauge what actions can bring real and lasting positive change.

Continue surveying, tracking results, and updating the plan

Taking action on employee engagement survey results can help you increase engagement, boost employee satisfaction, and achieve an overall improvement in your organization. However, a single survey is just one link in the communication chain between company management, human resources, and employees.

To continue building an open dialogue between the leadership team and the rest of the organization, plan subsequent surveys to get real-time feedback and promote steady incremental change. To achieve more accurate results and amplify engagement for the next survey, you can:

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