Is this how to create the perfect end-of-year staff survey?

18 December 2017 -

Staff SurveyPsychometrics firm Thomas International was noted for its leadership and culture in the CMI/Glassdoor Top 20. Here’s how it measures employee engagement – and you can too


Organisations often ask when the best time is to roll out an engagement survey. Should they wait before or after Christmas, or is summer the best time? There’s no right or wrong time as whenever you do it, you’ll find strengths and limitations to your organisation that by highlighting and addressing, you’ll improve the overall workplace.

In a company culture where change is so fast paced, employees want to work for a company who cares.

Millennials, who are the people managers of tomorrow, especially want to work for a company who cares more than they want to work for the best paying company – employee engagement surveys address this.

The starting point for an organisation is committing to wanting an engaged, productive and innovative workforce. Admittedly, this makes a good New Year’s resolution.


There are several questions to consider when starting out on your journey of successfully measuring employee engagement in your organisation.

First: what does employee engagement mean to your business? There is no single definition of employee engagement and it’s important your organisation has a clear version of what it means to them specifically.

Making it a company-wide exercise to create this definition can make people feel more included, and encourage them to take the survey once it is sent out. Also, by understanding what employee engagement specifically means to your workforce, you will know what the key areas to focus on are.

Second, consider: how does employee engagement impact on your specific business results? Once you have clearly defined what it means to your people and organisation, you need to make a clear connection on how this will drive business performance and where you are potentially lacking.

Third, ask yourself: how can your organisation make sure measuring employee engagement is productive to the business? The outcome of any survey must be actionable results, and you will want to ensure that the employee engagement tool you choose provides an output report with suggestions for sustainable improvement, alongside highlighting areas of strength to maintain and the results are comprehensively fed back to you.


The use of psychometrics can add huge value to initiatives involving people, such as an employee engagement survey. Psychometric tools can measure a range of characteristics such as behavioural styles, personality traits, motivations, learning speed and so on. All of these factors can influence a person’s engagement at work.

Imagine if your leadership team communicated in a way that didn’t provide with you the level of detail you inherently prefer?

Linking information gathered from psychometrics to patterns of engagement in a business can shed light on ‘pain points’ and potentially reveal solutions to improve engagement. In general, psychometric tools should be used in a blended approach with other measures to inform people related processes and decisions.

This is how they will add the most value.


We recommend that everyone in the organisation completes a survey as it’s important to get a complete picture. If only a small group’s engagement levels are measured it could be seen as favouritism to that group and make other employees feel like they’re not important.

Everyone from part-time staff to the CEO should complete engagement surveys. 


For companies experiencing high levels of change our recommendation is to conduct a survey every six months. This means you can track just how much the change is affecting the overall workforce.

For companies that are in a relatively stable position, an annual survey is more suitable. The most important thing to remember is that regular engagement checks will help to steer the business and its goals. It should never be used as a tick-box exercise or not revisited as this has shown to have a negative impact on employee engagement.  


Two really successful questions we’ve seen used in the past are what staff would do if they were the CEO and if they were to resign, what would be the reason. These questions aren’t designed to be detrimental or negative, but instead to encourage employees to speak honestly about how they feel in a forum that is confidential.

The questions show that the business is 100% committed to change and is genuinely listening to its people.

The question about being the CEO can help pull out fantastic ideas from staff who might not feel they ordinarily have the platform to speak up. The people that do the job on a daily basis are often the ones with the best ideas on how to improve things. 

The question about the potential reasons for resigning isn’t to see how many people would resign but to understand if there are small things that affect a majority of people. This is where the business can look inwardly and put realistic actions in place to help prevent staff actually getting to the point of resigning.


The most common (and most impactful) mistake we see is a lack of follow up once an engagement survey has been completed.

If employees are asked to take the time to honestly rate and reflect on aspects of their work, their relationships with others and the company overall, and then do not receive feedback or acknowledgement from the business on next steps they are unlikely to want to participate again.

In fact, they can actually become disengaged if there is a lack of clarity post-completion. The organisation must also commit to a certain level of transparency and trust with their people for an engagement project to be successful.

Another common issue is if the results are fed back to teams and then activities are done to increase engagement simply because they have to be. If they’re not genuine and sincere, employees see straight through these actions and they have a negative impact.

For example, if there are comments about having more social activities to increase team togetherness and senior managers don’t turn up to them, staff will feel like it’s been done to tick a box rather than to make a real improvement. 100% investment is needed at a senior level to ensure maximum impact.

If engagement is on your agenda, make it a part of the culture.

Click here for the full list of commended organisations in Leadership and culture at Work: The CMI/Glassdoor Top 20

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