Using Strategy to Drive Your Employee Engagement Survey

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Many people in management don’t consider an employee survey to be a valuable tool for strategic planning. Instead, they think of a survey as “just an HR thing,” or just one more administrative task in their already busy schedules. And even though they try to get behind the survey project, they may never really commit the time and energy needed to make it a success. That kind of thinking is how organizations miss out on the value of this powerful engagement tool.

Taking an administrative view

When an organization approaches a survey as an administrative task, it holds a few misconceptions. Namely, that surveys:

- Are created and run by HR

- Focus only on what’s wrong with the organization

- Are a big burden to oversee

- Are aimed at controlling an organization’s culture

- Make employees feel frustrated and cynical

- Don’t provide any actionable data or information

- Give feedback to top management only, and leave everyone else out

- Cause knee-jerk reactions to bad results

Taking a strategic view

An employee survey is a tool that offers a host of benefits and can really help to engage people, learn from them, and improve our organization. When you view a survey as a strategic tool, you see that surveys are:

- Created and driven by executives, and approved and supported by managers and HR

- Based on looking at the whole organization

- A way to put people first and show that employees drive the bottom line

- Focused on cause-and-effect relationships between leading (people) and lagging (financial) indicators

- Satisfying, fair, educational, and insightful

- Tools to emphasize strategic decision making

- Valuable to managers

- A means of providing detailed reports and solid, usable data

- A way to share information and feedback among all levels of the organization

- Drivers for action planning, both from the bottom up and the top down

- Methods for giving employees a voice in how their organization is run and how it achieves its goals

Changing the perception of surveys

Changing the organization’s perception may take time, and the survey team, executive team and CEO must be determined to spur the change.

Here are some positive practices that come from taking a strategic view of employee surveys:

- Organizations start with strategy and design survey topics that measure progress against that strategy.

- Management constructs a model that makes the links among employees, customers/clients, and profits explicit.

- Management develops a balanced approach and ties rewards and recognition to positive changes.

- Managers work with the data from the survey and learn how to understand and interpret the results.

- Improvement initiatives focus on the biggest strategic value, not the lowest satisfaction scores.

- Managers are rewarded and recognized when they use survey results to guide improvement initiatives.

- Teams or unit leaders with at least five respondents are provided with their group’s survey results.

- Managers are trained to interpret, work with, and communicate survey results back to their staff.

- Managers and facilitators conduct team discussion to brainstorm action plans that they prioritize and send to senior managers for a final endorsement.

To learn more about how to achieve employee engagement within your organization, register for our FREE monthly webinar at, or identify your organization’s most important employee engagement drivers by contacting Sean Fitzpatrick at or 613-248-3417, ext. 501.

As President and founder of TalentMap, Sean Fitzpatrick has helped many leading public and private sector organizations maximize engagement and boost productivity through TalentMap’s integrated employee feedback system.

TalentMap offers ‘off the shelf’ and ‘custom-designed’ employee engagement solutions that foster continual improvement within your organization.

For information on placing a sponsored article on, contact Terry Tyo at 613-238-1818, ext. 268.

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