Now that you have your Employee Engagement survey results, it’s important to remember that a survey alone does not create positive change. Involving leaders, faculty, and staff in discussing the feedback and deciding how to take action is what can create positive change in the work environment. Remember that disengagement begins when people who take time to provide feedback or respond to a survey don’t hear back from their leaders, so share the results with your team and plan some actions based on the feedback you have.
The resources below can help you in the action planning.
Clear & Promising Direction
- Share the "big picture" with team members. Explain the current strategy and goals of your unit and align them to your leadership's strategy and goals. Invite your leadership team to employee meetings to discuss your unit’s strategic priorities, core values, and goals to demonstrate strategic alignment and purpose. See the Quick Guide to Goal Setting for more information.
- Encourage discussion and understanding about the unit's strategy, core values and goals during employee meetings. For more information refer to the Quick Guide to Goal Setting. When onboarding new employees, see the Planning New Employee Onboarding quick guide for more information.
- Communicate progress towards the unit's strategy, core values and goals on a regular basis. For example, how do team members in your work group directly or indirectly contribute to the strategy and goals? See the Defining a Clear Purpose for Team Success quick guide for more information.
- Communicate the large-scale successes of the unit, focusing on work well done and results. Be sure to explain your unit’s role in these success stories. See the Defining a Clear Purpose for Team Success quick guide for more information.
- Develop performance goals with each employee that define the criteria for minimum, acceptable, and superior performance. Create goals that are clear, measurable, attainable, and that align with your unit’s overall strategy. Ask each employee to restate their performance goals to ensure that he/she understands them. Watch the Managing and Evaluating Performance webinar recording for more information.
- Help employees better understand your goals and priorities by providing them with all of the relevant context information necessary to them to effectively perform their roles and responsibilities. Consider sharing announcements, new policies, organizational changes, budgets, new initiatives, etc.
Commitment to Excellence
- Communicate successes and accomplishments, but don’t focus exclusively on them. Focus on work well done, behaviors you want to see more of, innovations, stakeholders that have been well served. See the Establishing Norms and Expectations quick guide for more information.
- Emphasize the importance of delivering high impact, high quality scholarship and service to all stakeholders. When setting goals, clearly define your expectations for excellence. See the Quick Guide to Goal Setting for more information.
- Invite and encourage discussions to identify stakeholder expectations around teaching, research, and outreach and administration that we provide in our department.
- Identify frustrating processes and procedures employees and/or stakeholders encounter and streamline and simplify, if possible.
- Create evaluations for all services delivered and assess data and make adjustments to ensure continuous improvement for department. Address quality issues and subpar performance in a timely manner. Watch the Feedback and Coaching webinar recording for more information.
- Ask employees what processes need improvement and ask for their ideas for effective and efficient solutions. Use your influence, access to relationships and positional power to remove barriers and effect change. See the Quick Guide to Conflict Sources for more information.
Confidence in Leaders
- Adopt and communicate to employees an "open door policy." Make yourself available by being visible and rarely "holed away." Consider maintaining regular "office hours" when you can be reached if you are frequently offsite or away in meetings.
- Determine and use the most appropriate communications channel for each message. Face-to-face meetings are most appropriate to announce sensitive organizational issues such as colleague / management changes. Written communications are appropriate for more routine office announcements. Be sure to communicate in a timely manner.
Invite a member of the senior leadership team to join a regular colleague meeting to discuss company goals, objectives, and values. Ask them to share some of their personal history with and perspective on the unit, the strengths of the senior management team, and current challenges.
- Encourage senior managers to interact with your colleagues informally. For example, have leaders walk around the department to informally greet colleagues, acknowledge accomplishments, and thank them for their efforts. See Quick Guide to Conflict: Building Trust for more information.
- Learn from employees what commitments or expectations they feel leaders have not met. Is it possible that leaders took action on a commitment but failed to communicate the message to employees? If you are not aware of the status on a given commitment, seek out the information. See the Quick Guide to Feedback for more information.
- Seek feedback from employees regularly to understand what is working well and what needs improvement. Act on suggestions or honestly explain why you can’t act on their suggestions. See the Quick Guide to Feedback for more information. When onboarding new employees see Planning New Employee Onboarding quick guide.
- Create and communicate a clear process for how career development opportunities are awarded. In your process considering including which opportunities will be given priority, how funding decisions are made, any annual restrictions on funding, expectations for utilizing learnings from funded opportunities, etc.
- Set an example by actively pursuing your own development. Meet with your manager to develop your own career plan. You can use this experience to create a good career planning experience for your colleagues. See the Quick Guide to Goal Setting for more information and watch the Feedback: Ready, Set, Go! video.
- Create a developmental plan and identify critical competencies for each of your employees. Communicate these competencies to employees to empower them to take charge of their careers and personal development. See the Quick Guide to Goal Setting for more information. Check out this example from Academic Support Resources Using an IDP for Employee Development. When onboarding new employees, see A Conversation Guide for New Employees for more information.
- Promote development by providing constructive feedback. Deliver feedback when the employee is in a comfortable environment and has had the opportunity to reflect on how they can change their behavior in future scenarios. See the Quick Guide to Feedback for more information.
- Frequently provide coaching and mentoring to help employee reach their potential and achieve their developmental goals. This will also help to maintain motivation and interest in improvement. See the Quick Guide to Coaching for more information.
- Promote continuous improvement and learning within the department by encouraging employees to seek methods for improving processes. Recognize employees for their ideas by sharing the improvements that were implemented during team meetings through employee bulletins, unit updates, etc.
Respect and Recognition
- Publicly recognize/reward employees or teams whose behaviors exemplify your unit’s core set of values. Always check in with colleagues to ensure they understand specifically what the praise and recognition is for– this is crucial to help colleagues and the whole team understands what good performance looks like. See the Employee Engagement Drivers and Self-Reflection Questions for a deeper understanding.
- If possible, grant employee requests for time off, unless there is critical work that needs to be done and can’t be assigned to others.
- Act as a role model for treating all others with respect; reflect on interactions to make sure you treat all employees with the same level of respect.
- Meet with employees, both individually and in groups, to understand their perception around whether their organization has care/concern for its employees. Collect details from them in regards to what ways they feel valued as employees and what causes them the most concern. See the Employee Engagement Cycle: Discussion quick guide for more information.
- Evaluate and seek input on the inclusivity of your unit’s norms and processes. Are there any team members that feel unable to fully engage because they have different values, customs, or needs? Try to identify two things that you can do to make your work environment more inclusive and respectful. See the Employee Engagement Cycle: Input or the Quick Guide to Organizational Culture and Onboarding for more information.
- Encourage your employees to regularly engage in University or unit sponsored U of M Wellbeing Program (e.g. earn wellness points visit the farmer’s market, attend financial literacy programs, etc.).
We have created a downloadable PDF that will guide you through an action plan for addressing employee engagement. To fill in the PDF version digitally, download the file and open it in your browser or PDF reader.
Frequently Asked Questions
I want to take action on my survey data but I have questions about next steps. Who can help me?
There are several resources available:
I have a small group, how should I be confronting the individuals that I believe are disengaged?
First, because this is an anonymous survey, it is important to respect your employees’ anonymity and refrain from attempting to identify the team members’ individual response patterns. This is not the point of the engagement survey.
Second, because frustrations and disengagement can occur for reasons outside of your control we recommend that you focus on how the majority of your team responded and on issues or items where it is within your control to help resolve issues or greatly improve engagement.
I have heard that addressing employee engagement shouldn’t be more work; however, it always feels like more work! Can you give some examples of how to effectively address engagement without creating more work for me or my direct reports?
Sure. Below are just a few examples of how this can be done. Also understand that even under the best of circumstances, new processes or ways of doing things can feel a bit cumbersome the first few times that you do it, but will get easier if you stick with it.
By taking a little bit of time to understand pain-points, it may be possible to make small adjustments to the way that work is done in order to greatly improve the engagement of your team and help your team achieve its most critical goals.
Equitable Distribution of Workload
Here's an example of a team interested in addressing their low scores on the item related to equitable distribution of workload. At a team meeting, the leader had everyone go around and identify the biggest challenges that they are currently facing in their work. From this discussion several team members identified ways that they could easily help relieve the challenges that their co-workers were facing. One coworker offered to complete a few more steps in a process before handing the work off to her peer. Another coworker offered to edit PDFs because they had the necessary software, skillset, and capacity to do so, this relieved pressure off a peer to learn these skills. This brief engagement exercise helped to improve overall workflow and functioning of the entire group.
Information Sharing and Collaboration
In another example, a team had low scores on items related to information sharing and collaboration. After gathering a bit of insight from individuals on this team, the leader quickly realized that his direct reports were encountering road blocks that slowed their work down because they didn’t have the necessary information to proceed. The leader also realized that his direct reports were not on all of the same list-serves that he is on. Now he forwards all communications that he receives to the rest of his team and this adjustment has greatly improved the team’s functioning.