Employee Engagement: Turning your data into action

Employees want to be able to add value through their efforts at work.

Christine Hardy Kaus
July 7, 2015

Employee Engagement Surveys assess a variety of factors, and (ideally) are often aligned to the core values of an organization. Most encompass a combination of the following:


Data from engagement surveys serves as an organizational pulse-check, and can help companies identify which of the above factors requires specific attention. Regardless of what the analysis shows, the most important step in the survey process is what happens AFTER analysis is complete. Leadership should be accountable for taking engagement survey data and driving an actionable plan that addresses critical issues. Keep the following best practices in mind when building out an engagement strategy:

Be transparent when communicating engagement scores to your employees:

One thing to keep in mind during the process is the importance of transparency when communicating out about what’s going well and what needs work. Being honest about results builds organizational trust, in that senior leaders understand the importance of employee engagement and are committed to tackling development areas.

Prioritize your top areas of focus for engagement before putting an action plan together:

Be efficient, yet thorough in the analysis of the survey data. Prioritize which engagement factors to target, based on scores and level of impact on the business. It’s highly unlikely that survey data alone provides enough information take immediate action successfully.  So additional analysis on engagement results is usually needed in order to put together an appropriate action plan.

For example, focus groups often help peel away the layers of an issue to uncover an underlying problem that may not have come out during the engagement survey. The qualitative data that comes from these deeper conversations can provide insight and help to shape a practical action plan that has employee buy-in from the get-go. It also demonstrates leadership commitment to listening and better understanding of employee concerns.

Hold Senior Management accountable for executing employee engagement plans:

Organizational credibility can be weakened when engagement data isn’t acted upon. Once engagement focus areas are validated, HR should partner with senior leaders to drive action planning and accountability down to the chain.  One effective way companies have implemented this successfully is by establishing a task-force of key influencers in the business. Their primary responsibility is to solicit input from fellow employees on ways to fix any issues, and build out a measurable plan for how these issues will get addressed. The HR leader facilitates this process to make sure any necessary HR guidance is provided, and to help keep the team on track.

Consider having both a top down and bottom up approach to addressing employee engagement challenges:

Employee Engagement assessments are often done annually, or even biannually. It often takes an additional 12-18 months after results are delivered for any actions to filter down throughout the organization. This window leaves companies vulnerable to further disengagement and retention issues when employees don’t see anything being done to move the needle. Additional things can also pop up during this lag between assessment and action which can further impact employee engagement.

Employees want to be able to add value through their efforts at work, but when their level of satisfaction against one or more engagement factors starts to fall, individual discretionary effort will decrease as well. This becomes especially poignant with those employees considered critical or high-potential talent. Leaders responsible for managing the employee engagement process should consider providing more immediate and accessible ways to monitor this.  Establishing a way for employees to self-assess against engagement factors on an individual level, and on more than an annual basis, may be a solution.

Though their issues and needs may (or may not) be different than the broader employee population, creating quick self-assessments for employees to identify where they may be experiencing engagement challenges, can help them potentially work through solutions with their managers and/or HR. This not only builds a stronger connection with the employee and the company, real-time communication improves and often times issues are readily addressed – before they become more critical.