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Top 6 Employee Engagement Survey Mistakes

December 10, 2020


This was one of our most popular articles in 2018. Given our current circumstances and the worldwide shift to remote work caused by the pandemic, I thought it was time to revitalize this Top 5 list and add one more critical employee engagement survey mistake I missed back in 2018.

Employee engagement is a hot topic for organizations big and small. Regardless of size, a highly engaged workforce is a company’s greatest asset and is often a determining factor in the company’s success.

One of the most reliable ways to measure engagement is an employee survey. Whether your organization is just starting to quantify engagement or has tracked it for years, it doesn’t hurt to take a look at your strategy.

Could you be making any of these top six employee engagement survey mistakes?

1. Not measuring employee engagement

The biggest mistake a company can make is not measuring employee engagement in the first place. If a company’s leadership isn’t paying attention to the engagement levels of its workforce, they could be missing warning signs that could affect everything from profits to staff turnover.

Companies that don’t survey their employees also miss out on learning areas of strength within their organization that can be used to create additional activities and programs. Employee engagement programs demonstrate to employees that their opinions are important. When team members feel that their opinions are valued, organizations will see a positive ripple effect throughout the ranks.

2. Making assumptions

Do you really know what your employees need to be successful, or are you making assumptions? Organizations often mistakenly make assumptions about what their employees want and need to be successful. How can managers solve problems and remove roadblocks without soliciting direct feedback from their employees?

In this way, a company is like a doctor. To diagnose a patient’s problem, they have to begin with an examination and tests. A company must also examine the drivers of employee engagement to identify strengths and solve issues. Assumptions lead to wasted time and resources and will only slow down the process of making improvements.

3. Going it alone

Imagine this scenario: Your company has just administered its first employee engagement survey and the participation rates were great. You know the next step is to analyze the results and take action, but you’re worried that you don’t have the right people involved.

Prior to the launch of an employee engagement survey, multiple teams within the organization must be in alignment, so that once it’s time to take action, the right people are in place to follow through. The following teams should be working together to ensure success:

  • The executive team will add credibility to your efforts. Their buy-in will resonate with staff and show that employee engagement is a priority. This group can also help keep managers and employees accountable for following through on action plans to address areas of improvement.
  • Middle management buy-in is also critical. These individuals play a huge role in whether employees are engaged and satisfied at work. In many cases, engagement action items will be their responsibility because of their involvement in day-to-day operations.
  • Human resources also needs to be involved because of their work with employee policies, recruiting and onboarding.

4. Inconsistency

If you’re just beginning to measure engagement, you’re off to a great start. For the first time, you will have real data about your employees that you can use to make smart and informed decisions. Using data you’ve gathered, you can put tactical plans in place to address issues and change employee behavior and company culture.

So, how will you know whether your plans are successful? The answer is surveying consistently. We recommend that you survey employees at least once per year so that you can adjust action plans as the culture within your organization shifts.

5. All talk, no walk

Surveying employees without taking action is the number-one way to sabotage your company’s engagement efforts. When people feel that nothing is being done to improve the work environment after survey results have been collected, they’ll begin to lose trust in management and employees may stop responding to future surveys.

6. Failing to adapt to remote teams

Whether your organization has made remote work a short-term solution or a permanent one, adjusting to working remotely has its pros and cons. For many, the flexibility that comes with working remotely allows them to juggle work and life as they see fit. For others, however, it can be much harder to collaborate or feel connected with colleagues.

Either way, transitioning to a virtual work environment will affect engagement. Even the most proactive leaders aren’t mind readers. The best way to gauge how remote work is going across your entire organization is to survey your employees. This way, you’ll know the truth about how your employees feel and you’ll be able to provide support where it’s needed most.

If you are interested in conducting an employee engagement study or worried you might be making employee engagement survey mistakes, give us a call. Our Workforce team would be happy to discuss your situation and put a plan in place to address your concerns.

All content provided in this article is for informational purposes only. Matters discussed in this article are subject to change. For up-to-date information on this subject please contact a Clark Schaefer Hackett professional. Clark Schaefer Hackett will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within these pages or any information accessed through this site.


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