‘As leaders, we should be measuring engagement in everything we do’
– Simon White, VP People at Blink
Frontline leaders have long been searching for the most effective way to engage their deskless workforce. From Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and Learning & Development initiatives, to intranets and Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs), they've tried a variety of approaches with varying levels of success.
This has led to a Frontline Gap, an issue that many organizations, especially those with deskless employees, face. It is a void where initiatives fail to have their intended impact due to a lack of engagement from workers.
To bridge this gap, employers must look beyond traditional methods such as ERGs and ESNs, and instead focus on using employee engagement surveys to connect directly with the needs of their deskless staff.
Frontline workers are looking for a faster, more efficient, and more useful way to do their jobs, while leaders want to bridge the Frontline Gap and connect with their deskless staff. To be able to achieve these goals, employee engagement surveys can help employers achieve direct conversations with frontline workers and understand the needs of their employees.
By taking a proactive approach to employee engagement and using pulse surveys to directly and regularly connect with deskless employees, organizations can begin to close the Frontline Gap, identify engagement challenges and create a more productive, cohesive, and engaged workforce.
Employee engagement surveys can provide valuable insights into how employees feel about their work environment, job satisfaction, team dynamics and so much more. In this guide, we'll take a brief look at why frontline leaders should conduct employee engagement surveys as a regular practice, before diving into our step-by-step guide on how to conduct your first employee engagement survey the right way.
Why employee engagement surveys are important
The solution to bridging the Frontline Gap lies in approaching frontline engagement as something that is earned, rather than simply expecting it from employees. Instead of relying on traditional methods such as ERGs and ESNs to increase engagement, employers must focus on creating an environment where workers feel truly valued and respected.
The first step towards this lies within employee engagement surveys.
Employee engagement surveys are an important tool for frontline leaders to measure engagement and understand the feelings of their deskless employees. While ERGs and ESNs can provide a good foundation for engagement, taking proactive steps to directly connect with your team is essential in order to create a productive and cohesive environment.
As businesses today are operating in an increasingly competitive hiring market, salaries and benefits are becoming more expensive and difficult to manage. With no visibility into what is going right or wrong, employers are left in the dark as to why their staff turnover rate is on the rise and morale is low.
This lack of insight into employee engagement can lead to disengaged employees, decreased productivity, and high turnover rates, alongside a weaker Employer Value Proposition (EVP) as talent is lost.
Employee engagement surveys can help employers gain the insights they need to effectively measure and address employee satisfaction, team dynamics, and much more. Collecting and actioning this feedback is one of the key employee engagement drivers, and is considered an employee engagement best practice.
So, how exactly can employee surveys support your workforce and drive success in your goals?
By regularly understanding what they need, leaders can better enable their workforce to succeed. Engagement surveys can help identify key areas that employees are struggling in and provide valuable feedback to address these issues.
One of the main pain points for organizations, especially those with deskless employees, is the lack of resources and support needed to ensure their workforce can work effectively. Without the necessary engagement tools, communication channels and access to information needed to do their job efficiently, deskless workers are often left feeling frustrated and under-valued.
Frequent employee surveys help employers find out what their employees need to do their jobs better. It also helps the employer know if their employees feel respected and valued. The information gained helps them ensure they have the tools and resources needed for workers to do their job well, so that companies can keep a good reputation and meet their hiring targets.
It can also be hard to collect data from the frontline, as depending on the industry and environment they work in, traditional methods such as paper surveys or iPads may not be practical. For example, if they are working outdoors or in an extreme environment where digital devices cannot operate, it can be difficult to get real time feedback from them.
Additionally, it's crucial to have something that's easy to use, in every frontline worker's pocket. By giving managers what they need to measure employee engagement and continuously improve the employee experience, employee surveys can fill this gap and directly benefit the organization.
One of the most prominent pain points faced by organizations is a lack of understanding of what engaged employees need to be successful, especially in the frontline. Leaders that are out of touch with their workforce can cause real issues, including low morale, decreased productivity and high turnover rates.
To truly understand what engaged employees require, employers must conduct employee engagement surveys, aiding them in identifying key pain points and areas that need improvement.
Another key objective of employee pulse surveys is to improve and measure employee engagement. It is crucial to engage employees in order to create a positive and productive workplace. Employee engagement surveys measure levels of employee satisfaction, and identify the strengths and weaknesses of policies, programs, goals and objectives within an organization.
By understanding where leadership or productivity are weaker, employers can effectively engage their workers through real-time critical information and structured interventions tailored to improve engagement.
This is a pain leaders are facing: the frontline isn't sharing feedback because they don't want to. Gaining the engagement of the frontline by first earning their trust is key to boosting future engagement levels and increasing employee retention.
How to successfully conduct an employee engagement survey
As we have looked at above, conducting employee engagement surveys can encourage employees to speak up, give them a voice, and help employers to create a more productive environment.
If you're planning to conduct an employee engagement survey, keep this in mind.
The purpose of an employee engagement survey is not to measure employee engagement, it's to improve it.
Employee engagement surveys should not be done out of curiosity or to "check in" with your employees, they take too much time to be done this way.
Simply having an employee survey is not enough - the way in which you conduct your surveys can make all the difference between success and failure.
LeadershipIQ surveyed over 3,000 HR executives to see "how good" their employee engagement survey was, and only 22% said they were getting good results.
So how can you conduct employee surveys so they are actually meaningful? Looking at industry leaders, we see the following behaviors taking place to launch successful surveys:
1. Get rid of annual surveys
Gone are the days of the bog-standard annual engagement survey that provides little useful information, leaving employees disengaged and uninterested.
Instead of a singular survey at one point in the year, organizations should instead be taking a more agile approach to employee engagement surveys by conducting regular pulse surveys with smaller sample sizes.
If you already have an annual survey procedure in place, the first thing you should do is look at your current process and consider whether some parts of it can be scaled back or done more frequently.
2. Define a clear, attainable goal
You'll have to really think about what information you want to get out of this survey, sometimes it's not just a simple case of finding out how your frontline employees are feeling. This is an opportunity to encourage your team to share feedback on every aspect of their role, your role, and even the CEO's right at the top.
For example, if you have a low retention rate that you want to try and improve, what questions need to be asked? What data will help you put together a plan?
Your employee engagement survey questions should be strategically planned in a way that shows the leadership team genuinely cares about their frontline workers and how their careers can be developed. This should be made visible from the start to the end of your survey.
3. Plan ahead
Once you've figured out what information you wish to gain from your survey, it's time to plan ahead and get everything into place. Here are some of the main points you should consider when you're ready to plan your survey:
- Have you got the right technologies in place to be able to conduct your survey?
- What do you really want to find out?
- Do you need to align with CIO or get buy-in?
- When is the right time to conduct your survey? You'll need to give your employees an adequate amount of time to finish it.
- Are you targeting all of your employees or just a specific group?
4. Let the frontline know!
Once your survey is ready to go, you need to get the message out there.
Reiterate the importance of the survey to your frontline staff and how it can positively affect their role at work and the environment in which they work. It's a way to show them they are going to be heard and listened to (you need to actually follow through as well, but more on that later).
Communications leaders should be well briefed in plenty of time and should be tasked with sending out reminders to all who are involved in taking the survey.
One way you can reiterate the importance of your employee engagement survey is to release it with a message from the CEO, or another senior leader.
5. Act and restart
Once you've received your survey results, you need to come up with a plan stating how you plan to act on your responses. This is a key aspect you can't shy away from.
This is also another chance to acknowledge employee contribution and shows that the right people have seen the results and will take action. Below is a recent example from John J. Herman, CEO of Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health.
He acknowledges and thanks staff for taking the time to do the survey, reiterates their feedback is important, and lays out in clear bullet points what their next action points are. You can view the full message here.
This should be an ongoing effort and you should keep your frontline workers informed of your processes and decision making, as a way of letting them know you are serious about improving your workplace.
If you fail to truly act on the feedback they have taken the time to give you, you risk devaluing future surveys and decreasing response rates.
You should repeat your survey at regular points throughout the year, to see if the employees are satisfied with the measures you have taken and tweak different aspects of your strategies to raise levels of employee engagement.
Considerations for conducting your first employee engagement survey
As we highlighted above, surveys should not be done out of curiosity, you need a real plan.
So when you're thinking about surveying employees take the below into account:
Who's your audience?: Whether it's teams or departments, segment your stakeholders into groups.
What do you want to measure?: What do you need to find out to improve the employee experience? Set goals, and measurable KPIs.
What are you asking?: Once you know what to measure, what questions do you need to ask to get actionable insights?
What type of survey?: Once you have your audience and goals, what type of survey are you going to run? There are different types such as, benefit surveys to measure how satisfied your frontline is with their benefits and rewards or you could even run onboarding surveys for new hires to see how well they’ve been introduced to the business.
What format?: How will the survey be received? Via email, via an app? What format will the questions be? Multiple choice or free text? Take into consideration your audience and goals and use these to guide the format you choose.
Timing: When's the best time to send your survey to your audience? How long will you leave the survey open for? How many follow up emails will you send to those that don't respond?
There's a lot that goes into planning an employee survey, but you need to do this to set you up for the best chance of it being a success.
Do you have a way to easily and efficiently collect and analyze data? Depending on your organization you'll need to make sure you use a platform that meets your requirements.
Think about who you are going to survey, are they desk based or deskless? Do they work from home? Are they on the frontline? Do you need the survey to work on desktop and mobile?
For example, our employee survey feature is used by organizations whose employees are on the frontline, this puts more importance on the mobile functionality of our survey feature to allow for quick and easy responses wherever employees are.
If your employees feel disengaged from their colleagues and management team it's time to introduce a platform that can meet your team's needs whatever their job role.
Employee surveys are a great opportunity to establish trust with your employees that you will listen and understand their feedback, as well as make an effort to act on how they are feeling.
But, they also pose a risk of doing the opposite if you don't do them properly.
A recent campaign undertaken by Blink found that 50% of employees wanted to leave their current position as they didn't feel like management took their complaints seriously. One third didn’t even think their organization would act on their feedback.
This again highlights why employee surveys shouldn't be done out of curiosity. If you run the survey, get the results, and don't act. What do you think will happen to the figure above?
But, if you act and communicate changes made off the back of feedback, not only could these go a long way with improving employee engagement, but build a lot of trust with your employees.
From an employee perspective, it will also be important if the survey is anonymous. This in turn will increase trust and eagerness to take part in the survey. Anonymity is important if you want to get real honest feedback from staff, they will feel more comfortable sharing the truth if they know it won’t come back to haunt them.
Raise awareness around your survey going live! Involve your communications leader in using as many formats as possible to get the message to the frontline.
This could involve emails, printed posters, and using an employee engagement mobile app.
These communication points need to explain the importance of taking part in the survey and why employee feedback is so important to improving the work culture.
When you're planning out your employee engagement questionnaire, don't be afraid to ask difficult questions. You need to ensure you're set up to get the most out of it.
For example, Facebook found that simply asking employees how long they intend to stay was more than twice as accurate at foretelling their future turnover than machine-learning forecasts.
What's even more telling is that they found when people don’t participate in their two annual surveys they are 2.6 times more likely to leave in the next six months.
The content within your survey needs to be clear, concise, and engaging. There's no need to overcomplicate your questions or try to hide behind big words. Ask the questions in a way that will get a truthful response.
How Blink employee surveys can help you meet your goals
Most employee survey tools are designed for desk-based workers, not the frontline - Blink's Employee Surveys make it easy for you and your teams to quickly and easily conduct employee surveys.
We make it easy for frontline organizations to get the data that matters.
Triple your response rate
Get your survey seen and responded to in an app designed for everyday frontline use. Instantly transition away from paper surveys to having surveys appear seamlessly on every frontline team member’s device.
This gets rid of friction caused by having to use other platforms, with different passwords and make it easier for staff to respond as everything is in one place. From paystubs to scheduling and even critical documents - your surveys are in an app that gets opened an average of seven times a day.
Launch in 90 seconds
Ask questions fast, get answers faster. Our mobile app makes creating and sending surveys easy. From selecting your audience to selecting questions you’ll be done in minutes.
We offer a set of science backed Qs which are great if leaders don't know what to ask, you also get the option to add in your own.
Get action-ready insights
Easy-to-use reports to make impactful decisions. Merge this with Frontline Intelligence - together with engagement stats and you’ll have an overall view of the health of your organization.
How to conduct employee engagement surveys FAQs
What should I ask in an employee engagement survey?
Before you do anything further, it’s critical to assess your existing level of participation. You can accomplish this by gathering employee input by asking a few simple questions such as:
– How engaged do you believe you are on a scale of 1 to 10?
– What is the one thing you would alter about your employment if you could?
– Would you change jobs for a bigger salary?
Such queries may not yield concrete answers right away, but they are a start.
You can assess the general feelings of your staff by gathering basic data, and then work from there to set clear objectives.
Remember to remind your employees this is anonymous, it will really help increase engagement! Blink also offers a set of science backed questions if leaders are unsure where to begin or how to move forward with the survey
How do you conduct a successful employee survey?
There are a few steps you need to follow to conduct a successful employee survey:
1. Employee surveys should have specific objectives and questions that are actionable.
2. Share survey findings with your team and act on critical findings.
3. Conduct comprehensive employee surveys once a year, with shorter pulse surveys more regularly.
What are the 3 aspects of measuring employee engagement?
Feedback: Feedback is the first component of employee engagement. Feedback is essential for keeping any employee motivated over time.
Recognition: Genuine acknowledgement from management, both publicly and privately, goes a long way toward keeping a hybrid or remote employee engaged in their work.
Validation: Validation may sound similar to feedback and recognition, but it is very different in terms of employee engagement kinds. Employees must believe that their supervisors view them as human beings and intrinsically value them in order to remain engaged.