How to Create an Employee Engagement Strategy

Improving employee engagement may be one of your goals this year. Where do you start? Read on to find out what’s involved and learn how you can take the first steps to achieve this goal.

Be clear on why you want to improve employee engagement

Most engagement efforts begin with an employee survey. Before you begin be sure you know which particular organizational challenges you want to address.

Are you trying to increase retention? Identify leadership skill gaps among mid-level managers? Improve teamwork? Evolve your organizational culture to support innovation? Do you need to conduct due diligence before a merger and acquisition? Being clear on why you want to improve employee engagement is the first step. Doing so will help you tailor your approach and determine what questions you want to ask in your engagement survey.

Gather data from employees and find insights from their feedback

You can deploy an engagement survey yourself or hire a consulting firm to help you design, implement, and analyze your engagement survey. You may want to supplement an engagement survey with employee focus groups to get more insights and stories that support your quantitative data.

If you were to design and implement an engagement survey yourself, make sure that your questions are clear, on point, and are designed to measure what you intend to measure. You also want to check that your rating scales are consistent with the questions. Otherwise, you’re not going to have the valuable insights you plan to gather and you just wasted your time and resources. Worse, you may be taking action to address the wrong priorities!

Analyze survey data and find interesting insights.

In addition to compiling the descriptive results (e.g., percent favorable) and examining the results by subgroup, you may want to look for interesting gaps among the survey items or subgroups.

If you design and implement the survey yourself, you will need to process the data and analyze them yourself, or have an analyst on your team help you with the data analysis. If you hired a consulting firm, you are likely to get an Executive Summary Report showing the overall results for your company. You may be given access to the online reporting portal to slice and dice the data and see results in multiple ways. It is possible that you could get very “data happy” and get lost in the sea of data or be overwhelmed by the amount of data and analyses that you could perform. Staying focus during the data analysis stage is critical!

Summarize results and identify areas of improvement

Once you have analyzed your results, you will need to summarize your findings and present them to your senior leadership team and employees. What do these results mean for your organization? Are there any surprises? And most importantly, how will you identify areas of improvement that will support your organizational goals?

Act on the survey results

It is imperative that you take follow-up action after the engagement survey, or you risk decreasing employee morale and their trust in your leaders. You will want to involve your employees and managers in the action planning process. Doing so will engage them in the process and increase their buy-in.

Communicate throughout the process

You need to keep employees informed throughout the process and connect your action items with the survey findings. Encourage employees to share their stories and experiences as you implement your action plans. Integrate communications about these follow-up actions as part of your internal communications plan.

Improving employee engagement is a process

Improving employee engagement means improving processes and people practices at your organization. Ultimately, it means evolving your organizational culture to one that creates positive employee experience and supports your business objectives.

You will need to assess employee engagement on a regular basis—with brief pulse surveys between more comprehensive engagement surveys. Acknowledge all survey results and always take action.