Popping the Question: Are your Employees Engaged?

It’s no secret that employee engagement and strong organizational culture have been linked to higher customer satisfaction, business profitability and, of course, employee productivity. Companies like Google, Zappos and Zingerman’s have made a name for being great places to work and the rest of the businesses in the alphabet have been scrambling to replicate their successes. But pool tables, free dry cleaning and espresso machines do not a culture make.

So how can you really know if your employees are engaged? How do you find out what makes your people tick and tock around the time clock? Just ask!

Employee engagement surveys may seem passé. You may have even eliminated your old survey for lack of participation or actionable data. But truthfully, asking for open and honest feedback is cooler than ever. Just ask a millennial – they are a third of your workforce!

Speaking of data, here are three stats that should make you reconsider the need to measure engagement:

  • Organizations spend an average of $720 million annually on improving engagement (Bersin, 2012)


  • 70% of employees are not engaged in their work (Gallup, 2015)
  • 87% of organizations see employee engagement as one of their biggest challenges (Deloitte, 2015)

When you want to know how your customers feel about your service, you survey them. You host focus groups. You put instant polls on your website and comment cards in your lobby. Those strategies can be equally as effective for your internal customers (noun. Fancy term for employees. See also team members, associates and client success managers).

Renowned firm, Deloitte, says “an organization’s culture can become a key competitive advantage – or it’s Achies’ heel. Culture and engagement are now business issues, not just topics for HR to debate.” They agree that the risks of not knowing extend beyond poor culture and low output, but onto your reputation as sites like Linkedin, Glassdoor and Salary.com tell the world “how things work around here.”

Let’s be clear. Just creating a survey isn’t enough. Your old survey may have been ineffective, and if you’ve never had a survey you may feel like you are steering in the dark – but we can help you right that ship.

Ask not what your employee survey can do for you, but what you can do for your employee survey:

  • Conduct short, meaningful surveys at least annually.
  • Use an external source to create the right questions and design a survey that will get responses.
  • Communicate the results of the survey to all employees.
  • Develop and execute action plans to address common themes in feedback and underlying issues.

Those last two bullet points are critical. In fact, we won’t even accept a handshake – you have to pinky promise that if you ask your employees for feedback, you will respond. An engagement survey can only positively influence your corporate culture if it is followed by a strong communication plan and noticeable change. Think taglines like “We’ve heard you!” or “Your feedback matters!” and be sure to follow them up with substance like “We’re changing our policy…” or “We’re upgrading your…”

We know what you’re thinking – what if you don’t get any good feedback? What if people make impossible demands? Thing is, this isn’t a hostage negotiation. It’s simply listening to people whom you entrust with significant responsibility day in and day out. No matter your brand or your ultimate vision for your corporate culture, you must first establish trust and prove that you’re all playing for the same team. You are united in a common purpose and whether that is solving a social problem or manufacturing goods, listening to one another will improve your chances of shared success.