How to Measure Employee Engagement with Surveys

May 17, 2017 Nicole Klemp

Surveying your workers is an obvious way to find out if they’re engaged in their jobs. But walking around the office and talking to people, or emailing your employees and saying, “Are you engaged?” isn’t going to get very accurate results. Even in regular meetings with managers, employees are less likely to be honest about their job satisfaction, engagement level, or happiness (especially if their poor experience is directly related to their manager). And if employees are upfront about their feelings, there’s no way to get a complete picture of engagement levels across the organization if conversations are happening in silos. Anonymous surveys at regular intervals can solve these problems, and help leaders get a better glimpse of employee engagement.

Do pulse checks (not heart surgery)

The concept of regular “pulse checks” is an idea that turns the traditionally lengthy annual employee survey on its ear. The Harvard Business Review tells us that pulse checks — short, frequent, anonymous online surveys — give managers a better understanding of team dynamics and employee satisfaction. Rather than sending the entire workforce a monstrous engagement survey once or twice a year, employers can opt to send brief, anonymous surveys throughout the year. They’ll be better received by workers and make the data collected more manageable.

The Fun Factor Survey

When it comes to creating an employee survey, brevity and consistency are key. At Appirio, we have what we call a “Fun Factor Survey” that tracks Net Promoter Score (NPS), potential improvements, and — you guessed it —  fun. The survey is sent out anonymously to a group of employees each month. Administrators split the employee population into four groups based on month of birth (using a report they run in Workday), to ensure everyone gets the survey at least once a quarter.

Using the Get Feedback tool, surveys are emailed to employees with these standard questions:

  1. On a 1-10 scale, how would you rate your experience as an Appirio team member right now?
  2. Please tell us what Appirio could be doing to create an outstanding overall experience for you.
  3. Based on the feedback you just shared with us, on a scale of 0-10 how likely are you to recommend working at Appirio to others?

It also includes three identification questions (to help the organization pinpoint results in specific regions and business areas):

  1. In what geographical region are you located?
  2. What practice are you in?
  3. How long have you been with Appirio?

Why those three questions?

The first question helps determine the company’s “fun factor” — one of Appirio’s key performance indicators (KPIs) for employee engagement. Chris Barbin, CEO of Appirio, has often said that people should be having fun at least eight out of 10 work days. “I reach out to a lot of employees,” he told the New York Times, “It’s one of the first questions I ask: ‘Are you having fun?’ I can see it in their eyes, hear it in their voice. I’ll just ask, ‘What’s your ratio of fun days right now? Are you a 6, 8, 9, are you 4 out of 10? If you’re a 4, why?’ It helps me get to root causes, since it’s a pretty easy thing for people to think about.”

Question number two is an open-ended question — something all good surveys should have. The open-ended format allows leaders to interpret responses and get a better understanding of the why of employee sentiment. (The what is determined with the scoring questions.)

The third (NPS) question determines how satisfied/engaged employees are, based on their willingness to recommend a job at Appirio to friends and family. Employees who provide an NPS score of nine or 10 are considered promoters, sevens and eights are considered passives, and a score of six or less denotes a detractor. NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentages of promoters. Ultimately, the percentage is lopped off of the final score, and the end result is a single number.

I sent out a survey, now what?

As survey data is collected, it’s important to track trends over time and identify areas of success, as well as those that could use improvement. At Appirio, our survey data feeds into a Salesforce dashboard that anyone in the company can view at any time.

Making survey data available to all employees helps foster a transparent culture. In our Fun Factor dashboard, even the open-ended question responses are visible. This is especially helpful for coming up with ideas and creating programs around engagement. For example, after consistently receiving feedback asking for more team-building activities for remote workers, the “Fun Factor Committee” was created to implement those initiatives. Recently, the committee hosted a March Madness bracket challenge for all employees. It was a fun way to engage employees across the organization, and’s tournament site made it easy to initiate. It cost the company little to nothing, and participation didn’t require a huge time commitment.

“It’s great to be able to check in on employee happiness and adjust our programs to improve the business,” said Heidi Williams, Program Manager, Silver Lining and Engagement at Appirio, “and the addition of the Fun Factor Committee has really helped to give employees a voice.”

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