What is the Best Employee Engagement Survey Frequency?

Best Employee Engagement Survey Frequency

Smart talent management leaders understand how to determine the best employee engagement survey frequency to attract, develop, engage and retain top talent in a way that fits with the business strategy and unique corporate culture.

Annual vs. Less Frequent Employee Engagement Surveys
Most talent management experts believe that consistent employee engagement surveys run every twelve months are better than less frequent surveys run every 18 to 24 months. The thinking is that annual employee engagement surveys enable leaders to increase engagement faster and higher than surveys on a less frequent timeline.

To test the theory about the best employee engagement survey frequency, we analyzed our Best Places to Work Employee Engagement Survey data.  We found annually was the best employee engagement survey frequency compared to less frequently run surveys.  In fact, over a four year period, companies that ran employee engagement surveys annually reported employee engagement increases 2.5 times greater than organizations that followed a less frequent timeline.

After speaking with our clients, we believe the annual survey process is outperforming their peers not just because of the timing, but because leaders that consistently conduct employee engagement surveys on an annual basis make it part of their strategic planning and performance management processes and are more focused on engaging and retaining top talent as part of their talent recipe for success.

What About Engagement Pulse Surveys?
What about pulse surveys in terms of the best employee engagement survey frequency?  As survey technology improves, engagement pulse surveys are becoming a more popular approach to measure and improve employee engagement.  Combined with annual employee engagement surveys, pulse surveys can provide wonderful and timely insights into employee engagement trends.

To get pulse surveys right, follow these field-tested best practices:
  • Start with clear and agreed upon desired results that link to both your business and talent management strategies.
  • Based upon your purpose, identify your target audience.  You do not need to include all employees in pulse surveys.
  • Select a pulse frequency (e.g. daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly) that matches your objectives.
  • Only ask 5-6 questions with 10 being the maximum.  Why?  Because it is hard to act upon any more responses in shorter periods of time.
  • A great question to ask in a pulse check that has the highest correlation to key employee engagement anchors is: “I would recommend my organization as a great place to work.” This employee engagement question acts as an engagement Net Promoter question that can be correlated to all of the other pulse ratings.
  • Depending upon how effectively you are following up from your previous surveys, consider adding some form of the following questions: “I noticed positive change as a result of the last survey.” “My manager shared the results of the last survey with our team.” “Our team developed action plans to address issues raised by the last survey’s results.” “Senior leadership is committed to responding to the results of this survey.”
  • Use one platform to do the annual and pulse surveys so you can track and report on trends and benchmarks while slicing and dicing data at detailed levels without having to use multiple log-ins, user names, reporting, demographics, exports to excel etc.
  • If you are going to pulse more than quarterly, there should be a strategic driver and the resources required to properly communicate and act upon the results.

The Bottom Line
Organizations that measure employee engagement annually see stronger improvements to engagement than those that survey less frequently. Among 105 organizations in our study, 64 percent that surveyed every year witnessed improvement to engagement scores, compared to 56 percent of organizations that surveyed every other year.

Remember that the purpose of measuring employee engagement is to increase employee engagement in order to improve productivity, retention and business performance. Therefore, gathering employee feedback on an annual basis is the first step in nurturing the overall engagement of your organization to drive higher performance. There is an optimal frequency for administering engagement surveys, and our study suggests that once per year provides the surest path to improvement in engagement scores.

To learn more about how to how to engage and retain top performers, download the Top 6 Forces Driving Employee Engagement and Strategies to Move the Engagement Needle

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