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    March 15, 2024

    Unlocking the Power of Employee Engagement Surveys: A Step-by-Step Guide to Read and Take Action on the Results

    Employee engagement surveys are a useful tool to evaluate how empowered your team feels about contributing to your company's progress towards its objectives. Most companies conduct employee engagement surveys annually. Analyzing the data and communicating the results is a great first step. However, leadership teams often fail to realize the actual impact that conducting an employee engagement campaign and action planning process can have on business outcomes and results.

    At Lever Talent, we collaborate with hundreds of companies to help them design tech-led talent strategies and leadership training that maximize leverage in themselves and their teams. We have created a step-by-step guide that outlines how you can use survey results to increase employee engagement in your organization.


    An Employee Engagement Survey is a tool that can provide insight into how well your employees feel aligned with their job, manager, team, and company. Once you have conducted the survey, it's important to review and analyze the results to gain a better understanding of how to improve employee engagement.

    Understand the Survey Approach

    To effectively assess the impact of a survey, it's crucial to have a clear understanding of its methodology. This includes information on how participants were chosen, the questions that were asked, and the number of responses received. Such insights can help you determine the best approach and actions to take in order to achieve the desired outcomes.

    • Participant Selection: Review the documentation to understand how participants were chosen. Look for details on sampling techniques such as random, stratified, or convenience. Consider evaluating the selection criteria for participants. Were they selected based on specific demographics, roles, or organizational units? This understanding is crucial for interpreting the survey results effectively. Typically, companies opt to involve their entire workforce in the survey. It is essential to establish clear criteria for excluding participants. For instance, envision yourself starting a new job and receiving an engagement survey; the feedback may be limited. In such cases, setting a specific cut-off date may be beneficial - for example, excluding employees hired after April 1.

    • Survey Design: Pay close attention to the wording, response options, and overall structure.  Consider engaging in focus groups or interviews with survey participants to gather qualitative feedback on their perceptions of the survey content. This "Triangle of Truth" approach aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the employee experience within your company. Relying solely on the annual engagement survey may not offer a complete picture. Therefore, incorporating insights from surveys, exit/stay interviews, or new hire focus groups helps to gauge how individuals feel about their work environment consistently.

    • Response Rate and Participation: Obtain information on the overall response rate achieved for the survey. Evaluate factors that may have influenced the response rate, such as survey distribution methods, timing, incentives offered, and communication strategies used to promote participation. 

    Size Up Overall Engagement

    Most employee engagement surveys offer a comprehensive overview through an overall engagement score, serving as the "big picture" to gauge the level of involvement your employees have with the company. This score is crucial as it reflects the collective attitude and commitment of your workforce, providing insights into areas of strength and opportunities for improvement. Understanding this metric allows leaders to make informed decisions to enhance workplace culture and drive organizational success.

    • Gauge Overall Engagement: This score provides a comprehensive view of how involved employees are with the company and serves as a valuable benchmark for evaluating progress over time. Pay attention to trends in the engagement score to identify areas of strength and areas needing improvement.

    • Analyze Subscores: In addition to the overall engagement score, most surveys will break down subscores or specific categories measured in the survey, such as job satisfaction, organizational culture, or communication effectiveness. Analyzing subscores can help pinpoint areas of excellence and areas requiring attention, allowing for targeted interventions and improvements.

    • Consider External Benchmarks: It can be helpful to compare your organization's engagement scores with industry benchmarks or those of similar-sized companies. This can provide context and insight into how your performance stacks up against your peers. With this information, you can identify areas where your organization excels or lags behind, and determine which improvement areas may yield the greatest results. Most employee engagement survey tools include a benchmark comparison feature.

    The graphic above displays sample survey questions to measure employee engagement, including overall satisfaction, commitment, pride, and advocacy towards the company.

    Spot Common Themes

    By conducting employee engagement surveys, you can gain insights into the common themes and issues that exist across your organization or specific departments and teams. Many surveys provide segmented data and reports, which can be analyzed to diagnose specific issues. Keeping a record of past survey results can help you identify trends and create benchmarks for improvement. This can pinpoint recurring topics or issues that arise across different teams or employee groups.

    • Analyze Cross-Departmental Trends: One way to gain insights into an organization's issues is by examining survey data to identify common themes or trends. This can be done by analyzing the responses of different teams or employee groups to key questions related to engagement, satisfaction, and organizational culture. By identifying over-arching themes or patterns, you can help your company align on common objectives to tackle.

    • Conduct Segmented Analysis: Many engagement surveys offer the option to group data by different demographics or organizational factors, including department, tenure, or job role, and even provide a data export for you to do it yourself. By segmenting survey data in this way, you can gain valuable insights into the unique challenges or concerns specific to different employee groups. Analyzing responses within each segment allows for a more nuanced understanding of the diverse experiences and perspectives within the organization.

    • Consider Historical Data: To gain insights into employee sentiment and identify trends over time, it is essential to compare the latest survey results with historical data from previous survey cycles. By analyzing the recurring themes or changes in engagement levels, organizations can prioritize strategic interventions to improve the overall work environment. This practice can help identify areas of improvement or deterioration in employee engagement and help organizations take proactive measures to address them.

    Break Down the Data

    By dissecting your employee engagement survey data based on factors such as departments, ages, or tenure, you can uncover insightful differences in engagement levels among various groups. Below are common ways to break down your employee engagement data.

    • Segment by Department or Team: Divide the survey data based on departments or teams within the organization. Analyze engagement levels and responses to specific questions across different departments to identify variations in employee sentiment and engagement. Understanding departmental differences can inform targeted interventions and initiatives tailored to address unique needs.

    • Consider Tenure or Experience: Divide survey data based on employee tenure or experience levels to assess whether engagement levels vary based on length of employment. Analyze responses from new hires, mid-career employees, and long-tenured staff to identify patterns or trends that may indicate differences in engagement levels across different stages of the employee lifecycle. Addressing the unique needs and challenges of employees at different tenure levels can contribute to overall engagement and retention efforts.

    • Explore Other Demographic Factors: Consider dividing the survey data by additional demographic factors such as gender, job role, or educational background to uncover insights into how these variables may influence engagement levels. Analyzing demographic differences can help identify disparities in engagement and inform targeted strategies to promote inclusivity and equity within the organization.

    • Conduct Comparative Analysis: Compare engagement levels and survey responses across different demographic segments to identify areas of alignment or discrepancy. Look for patterns and trends that may indicate areas of strength or opportunities for improvement within specific demographic groups. Leveraging comparative analysis enables organizations to tailor interventions and initiatives to address the unique needs of diverse employee populations effectively.

    Compare Past Surveys

    Comparing current employee engagement survey results with past surveys allows you to identify how engagement is evolving over time.

    • Review Historical Data: Take a deep dive into the results of previous surveys to understand the trajectory of employee engagement and satisfaction over time. By comparing trends across multiple survey cycles, you can assess whether there have been improvements, declines, or stagnation in various aspects of organizational culture and employee sentiment.

    • Identify Long-term Trends: Look for consistent patterns or shifts in engagement levels, job satisfaction, and other key metrics across consecutive survey periods. Analyze whether improvements observed in previous surveys have been sustained or if there are signs of regression. Identifying long-term trends provides valuable insight into the effectiveness of organizational initiatives and areas requiring further attention.

    The above chart shows how various engagement elements like Customer Focus, Learning & Development, and Direct Manager sentiment can be compared against each other and over time.

    • Consider External Factors: It's important to take into account external factors or events that may have influenced employee perceptions and survey results over time. Economic conditions, industry trends, leadership changes, and major organizational initiatives can all impact employee engagement levels and contribute to fluctuations observed in survey data. As mentioned above, industry benchmarks can help identify areas where your organization excels or lags behind, and determine which improvement areas may yield the greatest results. Developing this contextual understanding of your survey results enhances the accuracy of your analysis and will increase confidence in making strategic decisions.

    Find the Good and Bad

    Knowledge is power. However, examining the data from Employee Engagement Surveys can sometimes cause anxiety. It is crucial to approach the results with an open mind and a genuine interest in comprehending what is working well and what isn't. It is important to acknowledge both positive and negative feedback. It is impossible to make progress without a correct understanding of your starting point.

    • Recognize Successes: Take note of the positive aspects within the company. Celebrate achievements, successful initiatives, and areas where employees excel. Recognizing and appreciating what's working well boosts morale and motivates employees to continue performing at their best.

    • Identify Areas for Improvement: Acknowledge areas within the company that need attention and enhancement. This includes addressing challenges, identifying bottlenecks, and resolving issues that hinder productivity or employee satisfaction. By acknowledging areas for improvement, the company can take proactive steps to implement necessary changes and foster continuous growth.

    • Foster a Culture of Continuous Improvement: Encourage a culture where both successes and areas for improvement are openly discussed and addressed. Emphasize the importance of feedback, innovation, and learning from mistakes. By fostering a culture of continuous improvement, the company can adapt to changing circumstances, drive innovation, and maintain a competitive edge in the market.

    Get the Full Picture

    It is essential to consider a comprehensive summary of what's happened within the company over the last year when analyzing your engagement survey results. Significant events, like changes in leadership, layoffs, restructuring, mergers, or acquisitions, can significantly affect employees' feelings and views. Therefore, it is crucial to consider these changes while analyzing results and thinking about how to communicate them to have the most positive impact.

    • Assess Recent Events: Consider recent developments, such as changes in leadership, organizational restructuring, or significant company milestones. These events can impact employee morale and perception of the company's direction. Understanding the context surrounding these events provides valuable insight into employee sentiment.

    • Evaluate External Factors: Look beyond internal changes and consider external factors that may affect employees, such as industry trends, economic conditions, or global events. External factors can indirectly influence employee engagement and job satisfaction. By acknowledging these factors, the company can better understand their impact on employee sentiment.

    • Solicit Employee Feedback: Encourage employees to share their perspectives on recent events and changes within the company. Conducting pulse surveys or hosting open forums allows employees to voice their concerns, questions, and suggestions. Gathering employee feedback ensures that the company has a comprehensive understanding of how recent events are perceived and their potential impact on morale and engagement.

    Read Between the Lines

    Most employee engagement surveys provide an opportunity for employees to leave written feedback and comments. Analyzing these comments for trends, patterns, and context will give you additional insight into true perceptions and severity of issues.

    • Analyze Employee Comments: Take the time to review and analyze the comments left by employees in the survey. These remarks can provide valuable context and offer a more nuanced understanding of the survey results. Pay attention to recurring themes or specific examples mentioned by multiple employees.

    • Look for Patterns: Identify common themes or trends within the employee comments. Patterns may emerge regarding areas of strength, concerns, or suggestions for improvement. By recognizing these patterns, the company can prioritize areas for action and address underlying issues effectively.

    • Again, Consider the Context: Take into account the context surrounding employee comments, including recent events, changes within the organization, or specific departmental dynamics. Understanding the context in which comments were made helps to interpret their meaning accurately and guide appropriate responses or interventions.

    The chart above illustrates how employee engagement surveys can provide context around specific issues, such as communication and changes from previous surveys.


    After analyzing the results of your employee engagement survey, it's time to summarize your findings and communicate them to your company.

    Prepare a Summary Report

    Gather all the data collected from employee feedback and survey responses and create a comprehensive report that summarizes the engagement survey's findings. Categorize the data into clear sections such as overall satisfaction levels, specific areas for improvement, demographic breakdowns, and any notable trends or patterns observed.

    • Organize data: Group survey results into categories such as satisfaction levels, areas of improvement, and demographic breakdowns. Your task is to summarize the findings of the engagement survey into a comprehensive report. To do this, compile all the data collected from employee feedback and survey responses and organize it into clear categories such as overall satisfaction levels, specific areas for improvement, demographic breakdowns, and any notable trends or patterns observed.

    • Provide context: This is the time to include information about the survey methodology, sample size, and highlight any significant changes from previous surveys. Use visuals such as graphs, charts, and tables to present the data in a visually appealing and easy-to-understand format, making it more engaging and informative for the reader.

      Graphs and charts are effective tools to illustrate trends and patterns, while tables provide a structured format for organizing data. Not only do these visual representations make the information more digestible, but they also add a professional touch to your communication.

    The pie charts demonstrate an overwhelmingly favorable response to general excitement, remote work, and recent org changes based on custom survey questions.

    Schedule Debrief Meetings

    With your employee engagement summary in hand, it's now to schedule debrief meetings across the team. It's most common to schedule these meetings in a cascade fashion, starting with your most senior teams to gauge response and provide an opportunity to adapt your presentation as it's communicated more broadly, and further down the organization.  It may seem simple, but the earlier you book this meeting, the better! Scheduling these meetings before you even launch the engagement survey will ensure everyone has the time and focus needed to take action on the survey results. 

    Here are some tips for scheduling debrief meetings:

    • Select a "quiet" time: When planning a meeting, consider the availability of everyone and try to choose a time that works for most people. It is best to avoid scheduling debrief meetings during high-stress periods such as the end of a quarter or leading up to a major company event, as these times can be very busy and distracting. The goal is to ensure that everyone can focus on the meeting and achieve the desired outcomes.

    • Send invites out early: It is always better to wait for a time when everyone is available and can participate in a meeting. Therefore, it is suggested to send out meeting invites at least a week in advance. Along with the invite, provide a clear meeting agenda, desired outcomes, and any important information that you want attendees to review before the meeting. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and can actively contribute during the meeting. 

    • Consider remote and alternative options: Remember that not everyone may be able to meet in person. You may consider offering fully in-person and virtual options to allow your audiences to the best opportunity to engage in your presentation and provide their feedback on the results.

    Don't Present Data, Tell a Story

    Your employee engagement survey provides a snapshot of what's happening inside your company at a given time. It's crucial to create a visually engaging presentation that effectively communicates the survey findings. The presentation should guide the audience through a structured narrative, starting with positive aspects and progressing to areas for improvement. Visuals can be used to enhance understanding and engagement.

    • Craft a narrative: Build a storyline for your presentation that logically guides your audience through the survey findings, beginning with highlighting positive aspects before moving on to areas for improvement. This approach helps maintain engagement and makes the information easier to understand and remember.

    • Use engaging visuals: Utilize visually appealing slides featuring clear graphs, charts, and images to visually represent the survey data. Visuals not only reinforce key points but also make the presentation more captivating and easier to comprehend. Ensure that visuals are relevant and enhance the understanding of the information presented.

    • Keep it concise: Present only the essential information to prevent overwhelming your audience and maintain their attention. Avoid unnecessary details and focus on conveying the most critical findings and insights from the survey. By keeping the presentation concise, you allow for more meaningful discussions and interactions with the audience.

    Start with Positives

    Begin your debrief meeting by acknowledging and celebrating the positive aspects revealed by the survey results, which sets a constructive tone and motivates the team to address areas for improvement with enthusiasm.

    • Celebrate achievements: Take the opportunity to recognize and applaud the team's accomplishments and milestones in fostering employee engagement. By acknowledging their efforts, you reinforce the value of their contributions and encourage continued dedication.

    • Share success stories: Share specific examples of positive feedback or instances where teams have excelled in creating a supportive and engaging work environment. Highlighting success stories not only boosts morale but also provides concrete examples for others to emulate, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

    • Reinforce strengths: Emphasize the team's strengths and how these contribute to overall success. By highlighting areas where the team excels, you instill confidence and pride in their abilities, reinforcing a sense of collective achievement and encouraging them to leverage these strengths to address any challenges identified in the survey.

    Lean into Areas for Improvement

    Engage in a constructive discussion regarding the areas identified for improvement within the team.

    • Acknowledge challenges: Foster transparency by openly addressing areas where the team can enhance its performance, refraining from glossing over issues to facilitate genuine improvement and growth.

    • Provide context: Illustrate the significance of addressing these areas by explaining how improvements can positively impact employee satisfaction, productivity, and overall organizational success, fostering a deeper understanding among team members.

    • Encourage feedback: Create an inclusive environment by actively inviting team members to contribute their perspectives on the identified challenges and potential solutions, promoting collaboration and ownership in the improvement process.

    Encourage Open Discussion

    Cultivate an atmosphere of transparent communication and collaboration during your debrief meetings.

    • Establish ground rules: Set clear expectations for respectful communication and active participation from all team members, ensuring that everyone feels valued and heard during discussions.

    • Use probing questions: Stimulate meaningful dialogue by posing open-ended questions that encourage diverse viewpoints and prompt deeper exploration of ideas and solutions.

    • Practice Active Listening: Demonstrate empathy and attentiveness while actively listening to team members' feedback and suggestions, fostering trust and openness within the team.

    Provide Context

    Consider avoiding the practice of starting your debrief meeting by immediately discussing the engagement survey methodology and data collection process. Instead, it may be more beneficial to have this data prepared to present later on if needed. This approach will provide you with more time to analyze the results and offer valuable insights into the significance of the survey results, which will help enhance team understanding.

    • Explain survey objectives: Clarify the purpose of the engagement survey, outlining its objectives and how the gathered data will be utilized to drive positive change within the team and organization.

    • Share the survey process: Provide an overview of the survey methodology, including details on data collection, analysis, and reporting, to increase transparency and confidence in the survey results.

    • Emphasize importance: Communicate the vital role of employee engagement in organizational success, highlighting how it aligns with broader goals and contributes to a positive work culture.

    Address Concerns and Clarify Misconceptions

    To maintain a positive and productive work environment, it's crucial to address any concerns or misconceptions swiftly and confidentially. Besides emphasizing that debrief meetings are secure spaces where team members can provide honest feedback while safeguarding the anonymity of survey respondents, you may take additional steps to ensure that your employees feel safe and heard.

    • Conduct confidential follow-up sessions: Offer one-on-one meetings with individual team members to address specific concerns or misconceptions in a private and supportive setting, fostering trust and open communication.

    • Utilize secure messaging platforms: Utilize secure channels such as encrypted email or messaging platforms to address sensitive information and maintain confidentiality when clarifying any misconceptions or sensitive issues.

    • Offer confidential office hours: Provide opportunities for confidential consultations or office hours where team members can seek personalized support and clarification on concerns without compromising their confidentiality or privacy.


    Through productive brainstorming, effective evaluation and prioritization of initiatives, and the establishment of SMART goals, teams can ensure a structured and focused effort in creating a plan to take the most impactful action in response to their employee engagement results. Also, by strategically delegating tasks, promoting accountability, and encouraging ownership, teams can enhance their productivity and achieve their objectives more efficiently, ultimately cultivating a results-driven work culture.

    Discuss Action Plans

    Collaborate to develop effective strategies for addressing areas in need of improvement across teams.

    • Facilitate collaborative brainstorming: Lead brainstorming sessions to encourage team members to generate innovative ideas and potential solutions to tackle identified challenges, fostering creativity and collective problem-solving.

    • Evaluate and prioritize initiatives: Assess proposed action plans based on criteria such as feasibility, anticipated impact, and alignment to your company goals, ensuring that resources are allocated effectively to initiatives that will yield the greatest benefits. Generally, prioritizing initiatives that are most likely to improve overall employee engagement will have the greatest impact.

    • Establish SMART goals: Collaborate with team leaders to establish clear and concise goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. These goals should be based on the top two or three actions identified in the employee engagement results. This targeted approach will provide a clear direction for the team members, allowing them to monitor their progress and remain focused on achieving tangible outcomes.

    Assign Responsibilities

    Allocate tasks and responsibilities to ensure effective implementation of team action plans.

    • Delegate tasks strategically: Assign specific action items to team members based on their skills, expertise, and availability, taking into account individual strengths and interests to maximize productivity and engagement.

    • Promote accountability: Set clear expectations for progress tracking, reporting, and follow-up on assigned responsibilities, holding team members accountable for their contributions to the action plan implementation process.

    • Encourage ownership: Foster a sense of ownership and commitment among team members by empowering them to take ownership of their assigned tasks and actively contribute to achieving the team's objectives, fostering a collaborative and results-driven work culture.

    Step 4: Provide Resources, Support, and Training to Take Action

    In order to begin the process of taking action to engage employees, it is crucial to provide the required resources, support, and training that can help empower employees and managers equally. By offering guidance, mentorship, and coaching to team leaders, they can effectively bring about positive change within their teams. Here are some practical tactics that can be used to achieve this:

    • Guidance and Mentorship: Pair employees with mentors or coaches who can provide ongoing support and guidance throughout the implementation process. These mentors can offer personalized advice, share relevant experiences, and help individuals navigate challenges, ultimately fostering professional growth and development within the team.

    • Training and Development: Conduct training sessions to equip employees and managers with the skills and knowledge needed to implement engagement initiatives effectively. These sessions can cover a range of topics, including communication strategies, conflict resolution techniques, and leadership development, empowering team members to excel in their roles and contribute meaningfully to the team's success.

    • Resource Allocation: Ensure teams have access to the resources they need by allocating budget and materials appropriately. This includes providing financial support for initiatives, ensuring access to necessary tools and technologies, and allocating time for training and development opportunities. By prioritizing resource allocation, leaders demonstrate their commitment to supporting their teams and setting them up for success in implementing positive changes.

    Step 5: Monitor Progress, Collect Feedback, and Adapt

    Regularly monitoring progress on action plans and engagement initiatives is crucial for success. Collecting employee feedback on your employee engagement action planning process allows for a deeper understanding of their experiences and perspectives, enabling organizations to adapt strategies accordingly. Here is how you can do that:

    • Review Meetings: Schedule periodic follow-up meetings to review progress monthly or quarterly, identify challenges, and make necessary adjustments to action plans.

    • Feedback Surveys: Conduct surveys or pulse checks to gather feedback from employees on their experiences with engagement action planning initiatives.

    • Key Metric Tracking: Track key metrics and milestones to assess the effectiveness of implemented strategies and identify areas for improvement. For instance, you may consider including an ongoing Employee Engagement Action Planning objective as part of your quarterly OKR process. 

    Step 6: Recognize Progress and Celebrate Achievements

    It is important to acknowledge and celebrate progress in order to keep people motivated and to maintain momentum. One way to inspire employees is by sharing success stories and recognizing achievements publicly. Besides having a well-organized employee engagement action plan, there are additional strategies you can use to maximize the impact of your employee engagement efforts.

    • Employee Appreciation Events: Organize events or ceremonies to publicly recognize and celebrate achievements in improving engagement.

    • Employee Spotlights: Showcase employees or teams who have made significant contributions or demonstrated ownership in improving employee engagement and company culture.

    • Reward Programs: Establish a rewards programs to recognize and incentivize behaviors aligned with your engagement goals.

    Integrating engagement initiatives into everyday practices and processes is essential for long-term success. By fostering ongoing dialogue, feedback, and recognition, organizations can create a culture where employees feel valued, motivated, and empowered to succeed. Here are some way to ensure continued success:

    • Regular Feedback Channels: Establish regular channels for feedback and dialogue between employees and leadership to foster communication and engagement.

    • Training and Development: Offer training and development opportunities to reinforce engagement principles and practices and integrate them into already-established programs.

    • Leadership Communication: Ensure leaders communicate openly and transparently about engagement initiatives and their importance to the organization.


    Make your employee engagement action planning process better than ever with Lever Talent, Inc - the talent strategy agency. We help businesses deploy technology-enabled talent strategies that empower leaders to find leverage in themselves and their teams to spur growth in any market. Book a call to explore. 


    Meg Patel

    Talent Concierge. Executive Coach.

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