Conduct an employee-engagement survey
Employee engagement is one of the key drivers of corporate profitability — so make sure you know how your company ranks in the hearts and minds of your staff.
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Sure, your employees smile at you when you pass them in the hall. But are they truly happy at your company, or are they secretly plotting their next moves?

An employee engagement survey can help you determine whether your staff is as committed to your company’s growth, vision and strategy as you’d like them to be.

“It can help identify what you want to focus on, and uncover key drivers of engagement,” says Henryk Krajewski, national practice leader of talent management at Toronto-based HR consultancy Right Management Canada.

Why is engagement important? Research shows a direct and positive correlation between employee engagement and profitability. To maximize engagement — and, therefore, profits — Krajewski says companies must improve employee alignment with a company’s values, opportunities for career advancement and training and, of course, compensation.

However, as with any polling exercise, surveying employees to determine their engagement levels is tricky business. Apply the following tips to ensure your survey program gives you an accurate assessment of employee engagement within your company.

Establish goals. Figure out what you want to get out of the survey, and develop your questions accordingly. “Don’t just ask 200 questions that are all over the map,” says Debby Carreau, president of Calgary-based consultancy Inspired HR. “Go in with two or three very clear objectives.” For example, you may want to determine if employees are satisfied with their benefits and pay and whether they feel like their opinions and input matter. Carreau says an ideal survey will have about 40 questions. “People tend to lose their focus after that,” she says.

Be transparent. Tell employees why you’re asking them to participate, and that the results will be acted upon so they know there’s something in it for them. “Position the survey as a vehicle for input and involvement,” says Krajewski. 

Ask the right questions. Carreau recommends that companies begin with the Gallup Q12 Survey. The questions are simple and to the point, such as, “Do you know what is expected of you at work?” and “At work, do your opinions seem to count?”  The Q12 questions can be found here:

Use the right medium. Both Krajewski and Carreau advise using online surveys because they are convenient for employees to use and make it easy to analyze the results. If your budget is tight, try using free online tools such as Survey Monkey ( to develop an anonymous survey.

Follow up. Have a third party HR consultant or a member of your HR team conduct focus groups to discuss the survey results to validate the data (by making sure you have correctly interpreted the responses) and to find a way to operationalize the results, suggests Carreau. “People tend to be more open about discussing the results after they’re presented, because they now know that they’re not the only ones who feel that way.”

Take action. Asking for feedback and failing to act on it generates cynicism and depletes morale. Why do so many management teams seem to pay lip service to their employees’ opinions and suggestions, even after soliciting them? “A lot of businesses forget to budget for the costs associated with implementing the learnings, like training or team-building activities,” Carreau warns.

Monitor your progress. Krajewski recommends doing mini-surveys (what he calls, “pulse checks”) after you’ve rolled out new initiatives to see whether employees are happy with the outcome. Pulse checks can be as short as 10 questions, and can be done as often as every few months or as infrequently as once a year or less. “There’s no textbook on how often to do surveys — each company’s needs will vary,” he says.

– By Annette Bourdeau

NEXT WEEK: Develop a customer appreciation program.