Employee Engagement Surveys: An Essential Tool During COVID-19

Anna Straus, CEO at Sparck November 19, 2020

Today we’re navigating a completely different world than ever imagined. In June, employee engagement fell to an all-time record low. No other national crisis has impacted the way we live and work to this degree.

COVID-19 challenged existing employee engagement strategies when remote work went from being a sought after company "perk" to a mandatory workplace experience for non-essential businesses.  Navigating this virtual company culture has been frustrating and isolating for many employees.  This understandably has affected employee productivity and motivation.

In fact, employee motivation can drop as much as 17% for those who feel they have no choice in where they work, which has undoubtedly been the case.  Unmotivated employees are not only difficult to retain and engage, but their disengagement also affects important company metrics like productivity, revenue, absenteeism, turnover, and customer satisfaction. Disengagement is expensive, and every employee's performance is critical to overcoming today's economic hurdles. 

However, when employees feel engaged and motivated, productivity and loyalty follow. Highly engaged employees are 87% less likely to quit and companies are 21% more productive than their disengaged competitors. These loyal employees are not surfing the internet looking for new jobs or showing up late to meetings. Instead, they are motivated to go the extra mile and are committed to the goals and objectives of the organization.

As you're planning your workplace strategies for 2021, it's critical to uncover what's most important to your employees. Your employees have a lot on their minds right now. A great way to show them they're valued is by asking for their thoughts using a confidential employee survey.  This feedback will help you shape effective initiatives that align with organizational goals and employee needs.

After all, their experience today will inevitably impact their performance and company loyalty tomorrow. To help you get started, we've designed an employee focused roadmap to overcome common engagement survey obstacles.  

Overcoming Engagement Survey Roadblocks

Employees who feel their voices are heard are 4.6x more likely to feel empowered and to perform their best work.  Their input will help you elevate the employee experience, which drives higher loyalty and increased engagement. 

Employees feel heard when you ask the right questions, share the results, and take action. Their voices are especially important today when they're experiencing personal and professional challenges like adapting to remote work, distance learning, financial insecurity, social injustice, and politics. A confidential employee survey will help you get a pulse on how they're really feeling and identify what they need to be successful. Do they have the tools they need to succeed? Is there some way you can help? What are they experiencing? 

Having an effective survey process is essential, but often overlooked. We've got ways to overcome four common survey roadblocks to help you capture the best results with the highest participation. By overcoming these roadblocks, you can ensure your employees will feel heard and be motivated to perform their best work.

Get Executive Buy-In

The first roadblock is not having executive buy-in. Your engagement strategies are only as good as the support they receive from the top. If you don’t have executive level buy-in, any engagement strategies (like a survey) will be difficult to execute. There are a few strategies to overcome this roadblock:

  • Show the Return on Investment (ROI) - To get their interest, show how an engagement strategy relates to the overall business objectives of the organization. This will help them see the impact it can have on the company’s bottom line and better align HR initiatives with organizational goals.
  • Be prepared to overcome objections - Have an action plan to show how you will build employee participation and achieve the desired results. If you’re asking for financial support for new engagement strategies, this is critical for getting their support.

Plan the Implementation

The next roadblock is not having an implementation plan for the survey. It’s not uncommon for organizations to decide to do an engagement survey and distribute it without an overall strategy to guide the way. However, a survey is just a survey if it isn’t part of a larger goal.  Here are a few strategies to get quality results and implement the survey properly:

  • Ask the right questions - If you’re developing your own survey, your questions may be unintentionally biased or unmeasurable. You can’t manage what you can’t measure, so find a statistically valid survey or questions that have been vetted. Also consider a dual scale rating of measuring effectiveness and employee importance to pinpoint where you will get the greatest return on your engagement initiatives.
  • Align the survey and communication plan - Know when you’re going to launch and end the survey and equip your managers with an action plan so they can encourage their team’s participation. We recommend having a separate meeting with managers to ensure they understand the “why” and are prepared to answer logistical and purpose driven questions. Managers have a 70% influence on their team’s engagement level. If your managers are engaged, your employees will likely follow their example.

Prepare for the Launch

The third roadblock is a weak launch. Unfortunately, your employees may have survey fatigue, especially if no action was taken from previous surveys. Employees don't feel heard unless they see their feedback resulting in actions being taken. They need to know their feedback will make a difference. We've got a couple of solutions to help you with a successful launch:

  • Remember that timing is everything - COVID-19 has changed so many aspects of life, and your employees are facing new challenges. They may not have the ability to complete the survey in the given time frame for a variety of reasons. Or they may simply forget, so frequent reminders are critical. If you aren’t getting the participation you need, having the ability to adjust your survey dates (or extend the survey) is helpful.
  • Run an internal marketing campaign - If your employees don’t understand the purpose of the survey, you won’t get the participation you're looking for. Communicate the importance, impact and what you plan to do with the results to help encourage meaningful participation. This is also an excellent opportunity to reiterate that the survey is confidential and share how you plan to take action with the feedback you receive.

Take Action

The last roadblock is not taking action after the survey is completed. Even if you have the best intentions, not sharing or taking action on the results can have a negative impact on employee engagement. You’ll want to:

  • Review and interpret the data - One of the biggest mistakes any company can make is conducting a survey and then neglecting to follow up. If your employees took the time to take the survey and give their feedback, take the time to review and understand what they shared. Acting on this data can completely transform your internal engagement.
  • Share the results - It’s important to share the results with your employees and what you plan to do with them. Create a plan and keep them updated on your progress to reinforce how their feedback is shaping organizational engagement strategies. This not only encourages higher participation and authentic feedback in the future, but you will begin to reap the engagement benefits of your internal action plan.


Visit our Resource Page for more information and complimentary templates. You can also download our FREE eBook, 4 Easy Steps to Optimize Employee Participation and Survey Results, to learn the foundational components you need to rejuvenate your internal survey strategies. This framework will help you build a basic action plan to successfully launch and act on your results. 

Download the eBook

Next month, we'll help you identify how your employees want to be appreciated and share recognition strategies to personalize the employee experience.   Until then, you can get a sneak peek with this video!


4 Easy Steps to Optimize Employee Participation and Survey Results

Employees need to feel supported and connected to their company now more than ever. Our FREE eBook will walk you through the Employee Survey process and how to overcome roadblocks that may be standing in your way!

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