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Employee Engagement: Low-cost Moves to Level Up the Game

Updated: Mar 25

There's considerable research on the link between employee engagement and positive business outcomes. Performance markers like retention, absenteeism, safety, and productivity all improve with enhanced employee engagement. But how do you know if what you're focusing on to engage your employees is actually working? You have to measure it!

Washington County, Minnesota had a long-standing employee engagement survey but they hadn't done much to mature their program since its inception. They brought on PPI to help take their program to the next level, and to ensure the strategic insights they gained could transform into actionable results.

Principal Justine Hinderliter, Pr. Analyst Jenny Rice, and Sr. Analyst Alyssa Vu worked with the survey planning committee--spearheaded by the County's CHRO, Angie Nalezny and Learning and Organization Development Coordinator, Jeff Hudson--to mature their engagement program with some key strategic additions.


First, if you implement an employee engagement survey, it's important to measure the effectiveness of your survey. And you can do that by inserting one question into your survey. Hear from Jeff Hudson about this strategic addition:

Engagement isn’t just a once-every-few-years survey: it is a year-round, continuous effort to listen to employee feedback, address their concerns and needs, and truly show that their feedback matters in several ways.  Including a question to capture whether employees believe their organization actually made progress since the last engagement survey is a great way to monitor how well leadership is actively working on engagement and closing the loop with employees through year-round communication.

Action Planning

Jeff touches on another important and low-cost tactic that can take your engagement survey to the next level: action planning! We often work with organizations that want to embark on an employee engagement survey, but they haven't planned for the follow-up. In the world of employee engagement: if you don't communicate the results of your survey back to your employee base and then do something about those results, you're better off not surveying at all.

Setting up an action planning framework--with timelines!--on how you expect your leadership levels to communicate the results and then commit to taking action on those results, takes out the guesswork and embeds your organization with accountability. The goal is not to have employees complete a survey and move on; it's to start a conversation between managers and each of their employees.

Action planning should cover a few things:

  • review survey results

  • discuss results with your team

  • choose 2-3 actions that are responsive to your teams' results

  • communicate updates year-round on your committed actions' progress

Insights and Storytelling

Another low-cost tactic to consider is leveraging the power of storytelling. You can do this through in-depth analysis and communicating what you understand from that data to your employees. It's especially important to promote a deep awareness of how your organization is doing at your leadership levels--and make it understandable to everyone. Hear again from Jeff about the impact that storytelling had on Washington County's survey:

After completing a survey, it's important to communicate the results to your employee base, and to make sure that they understand why those results matter and to be able to see themselves in what is being communicated. That's why data insights through a storytelling lens can be so powerful, because it makes the complex analysis relatable to the front line.

Taking your engagement survey program to the next level often doesn't require a lot of high-tech or expensive actions. All that it really needs is some planning, a willingness to consistently communicate with employees, and adopting a bias towards action. The survey isn't the end -- it's just the beginning!

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