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How engaged are your people?

Published 24th March, 2023 by Neil Nixon

How engaged are your people?

Gary Cattermole, director of The Survey Initiative, explains how using an engagement survey can help with staff retention.

Understanding how your people feel about work, and workplace issues, can be key to retaining staff, particularly on the front line of cleaning and service delivery. One of the best ways to measure this is by surveying your teams; initially with a deep dive employee engagement survey to establish a baseline of attitudes and engagement; then with regular pulse surveys to track trends and, hopefully, progress.

People need to know you are listening

Before issuing an employee engagement survey, your people must know that the findings will be acted upon. If you aren’t prepared to make positive changes based on survey results, we always suggest that you don’t run the survey at all. The perception that a survey will change nothing guarantees a low response rate, and ignoring its findings will make morale worse.

It is not unusual for an employee engagement survey to achieve less than a 40% response, which gives you less reliable findings on which to plan future progress. However, if the survey is positioned in advance, and people know that the findings will be taken seriously, response rates rise significantly. We regularly see response rates of around 82%, which yield plentiful, reliable, data for analysis and future planning.

Be careful what you ask

Talking to a few of the people you will be surveying often holds the key to drafting survey questions. Informal chats or small focus group discussions can be highly informative and help us to craft a questionnaire which gets to the heart of workplace issues and achieves high response rates. The HR manager or line manager may have a rough idea about an issue, but the potential respondents will always have the clearest picture. In a large organisation, you may need to think about running different surveys for individual teams or job roles, in order to get to the bottom of a specific issue.

Don’t ask too much

In order to obtain plenty of responses and rich data for analysis, you need to ask just a few pertinent questions. Most employees will complete surveys which take just a few minutes – much more than that, and there is a tendency to get frustrated. Crafting the first survey is very important as you need as high a response as possible to establish a baseline from which to track progress. Following up with a regular ‘pulse’ survey of very few questions, usually achieves a high response rate among those who have participated before, particularly if they have seen progress made as a result, and feel their voice has been heard.

Actions speak louder

Our top tips for employers would always be act, act and act. Conducting a survey, and acting on the results, sets up something of a virtuous circle. Employees who see that their opinions matter feel valued and will participate again.

We are all aware that in the current climate money is particularly important to most employees. However, research also shows that where pay rates between employers are similar or equal, listening to and respecting your people can have a significant impact on recruitment and retention.

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