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Engaged employees are the foundation of any successful organization. When your employees are engaged, it leads to better performance (both at a team and individual level), increased productivity, and lower turnover. This is why employee engagement surveys are a great way to gauge how engaged your employees and if there are any steps you need to take to drive engagement. But those employee survey results are only effective if you know how to analyze them and move the needle on engagement within your team.

But how, exactly, do you do that? Let’s take a look at how to analyze, communicate, and take action on your employee engagement survey results.

How to interpret survey results

Factors to consider when analyzing survey results

Analyzing employee engagement survey results isn’t a black and white process. There are several factors that could impact your results. If you want to pull the most helpful insights from the data, you need to have all possible factors on your radar.

Some factors you’ll want to keep top of mind when digging into your survey results include:

Timing

The timing of your employee engagement surveys, including frequency and seasonality, can have a major impact on the results.

For example, let’s say you administered the survey in the height of summer and a solid percentage of your team was out on vacation. When analyzing your results, it’s important to keep in mind the fact that a good portion of your team’s responses is missing from your survey results. The absence of key employees will impact the survey results’ accuracy and make it harder to determine how engaged your employees actually are.

Or let’s say you’re analyzing results from an annual survey, but this is the first year you’ve given the survey to your team. Because there’s nothing to compare the results to, you can’t track trends, making it harder to really identify what (if anything) needs to change to drive engagement.

Even the time of day could have an impact on your survey results. For example, if you send survey questions at the end of the day when employees are eager to head home or disconnect, you may get different results than if you administered the test first thing in the morning or the mid-afternoon.

Industry

When it comes to employee engagement, a number isn’t just a number. A high engagement score in one industry can be significantly lower in another. So when interpreting survey results, it’s important to consider your industry.

For example, according to a 2020 report on industry-specific employee engagement survey results, when ranked on a scale of 56 (highly disengaged) to 88 (highly engaged), at 78.5, the leisure and hospitality industry had the highest overall employee engagement score— compared to 71.7 for software development and design.

Knowing how engaged employees are, on average, in your industry will help you better analyze your own employee engagement survey results. and make sure your employees’ engagement levels are on par with other businesses in your industry.

Business Size

Similar to industry fluctuations, employee engagement benchmarks can vary based on business size. If you try to compare employee engagement survey results for your 50 person business to those of a 10,000+ person business (or vice versa), it could skew your analysis.

For example, according to the above employee engagement report, when ranked on that same 56 to 88 scale, employees that work at companies with 0 to 50 employees have an average overall engagement score of 75.4— compared to 72.6 for companies with 501 to 1000 employees and 72.7 for companies with 5001 – 10,000 employees.

Understanding employee engagement data specific to your business size will help you better analyze your own data— and give you a benchmark to see where you stand against similar businesses.

Company context

What’s going on in your company at any given moment can also heavily influence survey results.

For example, let’s say you administered the survey in the midst of a company high (like bonus season) or low (for example, a failed product launch). Major company events can influence employee engagement—and if your employee engagement survey coincides with one of those events, it could have a major impact on your results.

Your highest and lowest metrics

When you’re analyzing your employee engagement survey results, you can’t dive into every comment, response, or data point; not only would that take basically forever, but not every piece of data is significant.

Instead, there are certain employee engagement metrics that you’ll want to prioritize and pay more attention to. More specifically, any metrics that are extremely high or extremely low.

Why should you pay closer attention to the high and low ends of your results? Because the highs and lows present your biggest opportunities. Metrics that are on the low-end show areas for improvement. Metrics on the high-end show where your team and organization are already thriving, which you can leverage to drive even higher levels of engagement.

So, when you’re reviewing your employee engagement survey results, use your time and attention wisely and put your effort into analyzing metrics on the high or low end of the spectrum.

Remember: it’s not about you

When you’re analyzing employee engagement survey results, it can be hard not to take some things personally, particularly if the results are less than stellar. But remember: your team’s engagement score is not a reflection of your skills as a manager. It’s just a benchmark that helps you see where your team is in terms of engagement. It can act as a jumping-off point to get to where you want to go.

Building an action plan from your results

Analyzing your survey results will give you key insights into the current state of employee engagement within your organization. But the work doesn’t stop there! The next step of the process? Building an action plan from your survey results.

Here’s how to use your employee engagement survey results to drive meaningful action within your company:

Communicate your results

Once you’ve analyzed your employee engagement survey results, the next step is to share the results with your team.

Here are a few tips to help you effectively communicate the results:

  • Create a communication plan with company leadership. Before you share the results with your team, it’s important to connect with organizational leadership to get on the same page on how you’re going to share the results. For example, are you going to review the results in an all-hands meeting and then schedule smaller meetings where managers dig deeper into the results with their individual teams?
  • Dig into how the results impact your team. If the employee engagement survey was a company-wide initiative, it’s important to review the results both from the lens of employee engagement across the company and also engagement within your individual team. What do the results mean for your organization and what do the results mean for the employees working directly on your team?
  • Use the survey results as a jumping off point for conversations. You want to share your employee engagement survey results with your team. But you don’t want it to be a one-sided conversation! This is an opportunity to drive engagement within your team. So take it! Ask your employees for their insights into the accuracy of the results, where they see the biggest opportunities for improvement, and what would make them feel more engaged with their roles, the team, and the organization as a whole.

Make goals based on results…

Once you’ve had a chance to review the results with your team, it’s time to start setting goals on how to improve engagement.

Look at the results and ask yourself:

  • Where are our biggest opportunities for improvement?
  • What are some concrete ways we can improve in those areas?
  • In what areas are we engaged and thriving?
  • How can we leverage those areas to drive an even higher level of performance and engagement?

Once you have those answers, you can use them as a jumping-off point for developing goals to drive engagement within your team. Then, use those goals to develop an action plan to drive engagement.

Now, keep in mind: there may be engagement-related things your team wants that are out of your control. In that case, the best thing you can do is focus on what is in your control and get a little creative.

For example, after reviewing your employee engagement results, it may emerge that your team wants to transition to a four-day workweek. As a manager, that’s probably not your call. But while you can’t give them exactly what they want, you can brainstorm related goals that could help to improve engagement. For example, giving them more flexibility around start and end times each day.

…and involve your team in setting up next steps

Your employee engagement result action plan is only going to be successful if you can get your team on board. So why not involve them in setting next steps?

Ask your team to help develop the action plan. Schedule 1-on-1’s for their insights into what goals you can put in place to drive engagement. Start by asking what they’d like to see moving forward. Then, schedule regular team meetings and 1-on-1s to review progress, ensure goals are being met, and make sure the action plan is making your team feel more engaged with their work.

Employee engagement survey results tell you how to boost engagement

Employee engagement survey results give you the key insights to know how engaged your employees are at any given moment.

When you know how to properly analyze them and communicate your findings, it’s easy to build engagement plans from them. Proper management of employee engagement survey results really is the key to building a more engaged workforce.