And the Survey Says…

Robin Roberts
Senior Vice President, Human Resources Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware

Measuring employee engagement is critical to the success of any business. To get a comprehensive picture businesses are encouraged to conduct employee engagement surveys. I have had the privilege of working for some great companies in the financial services, gaming and hospitality and now nonprofit, and each of these organizations understood the value of conducting such surveys. Below is a brief road map to help your company consider a plan for conducting your own engagement survey.

1. Give careful consideration to survey design and questions. If you don’t know where to begin you might want to take a look at the Best Places to Work Survey. Think carefully about the questions you ask and how you ask them. Questions should be set up on a Likert scale. You may want to embed open-ended questions in each section or include a couple at the end of the survey.

2. Consider the technology used to gather data. You could choose an external firm to collect data and use their own technology. In my experience the benefit of this approach is that employees are more inclined to answer honestly if the survey is conducted by an outside agency. The downside is cost. If you are on a budget, consider online options like Survey Monkey. If you use Survey Monkey, I would recommend paying for an upgraded subscription for more options for data collection. Whichever option you choose, consider whether the approach allows employees to maintain anonymity. You will get more honest answers and a better response rate if you factor this into all aspects of the survey design and administration.

3. Establish a plan for communicating the survey to employees. If you’ve ever done any kind of survey you know that you must provide incentives to those who you are targeting. Also, the survey must be supported by the decision makers and influencers within your organization. Have fun with the ways you market and disseminate information and create excitement around the initiative.

4. Gather, review, and analyze your data. If you asked open ended questions and used an online survey system you will need to read each comment and categorize it so you can analyze and quantify it. This is laborious but necessary. Often times reading these gives you a better flavor for employee concerns. If you choose to use an outside consultant they take a deeper dive into the data and provide analysis around the drivers of engagement as well as analytical conclusions.

5. Share the results with your employees. If you skip this step you may as well have not done the survey at all. When you ask your employees what they think about working for you, you need to be prepared to share the results. This is done at a very high level and I would recommend the results be communicated by the President/CEO. Typically this communication includes overall scores and high level results including: the top five scoring questions and the bottom five scoring questions. The message should include next steps. Be honest, if there are things employees expressed dissatisfaction with but you are not able to change, tell them this and explain why. They can take it.

6. Develop an action plan and identify someone to own this. Typically this is your HR team, but if responding to the survey is viewed as something that HR handles and others in the organization are not involved or held accountable for enacting the plan, it will most certainly fail. The action plan does not need to be overly complicated but should include addressing the bottom low scoring questions. Once a plan is developed, it is important to let employees know the plan. Again, you are back in Marketing mode and need to communicate the plan.

7. Continue to market any changes made. If you don’t follow up on your survey promises, you will hear from your employees. This is imperative and often forgotten; leaving employees disenchanted with the whole process. It can be as simple as a “You asked, we listened”, but get the word out. It’s important to note, these should be frequent communications, not a flurry of activity right before you administer the next survey. As I write this, Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware is getting ready to embark on another employee survey and considering a slightly different approach commonly referred to as “pulse surveys”. These surveys are shorter and done more frequently. We need to be more nimble in responding to what our employees tell us. Stay tuned…


Robin is an accomplished and results-driven senior Human Resources professional with over 20 years’ experience in the financial services, gaming and hospitality industries. She was a Vice President of Human Resources for Caesar’s Entertainment, the world’s largest gaming organization, and prior to that she was with Dover Downs Hotel and Casino. She currently serves as Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware

Ms. Roberts has her Master’s Degree in Training Design and Development from Penn State and her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Delaware in Education. She also has her Professional in Human Resources® (PHR®) certification and is an active member of both the national and the Delaware Society For Human Resource Management. She is a certified facilitator and has conducted Management Training Programs such as DDI, Zenger-Miller and Price Pritchett.

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