How to foster a culture of employee engagement

Bill McMurray | Managing Director, Asia Pacific and Japan | Qualtrics

Bill McMurray | Managing Director, Asia Pacific and Japan | QualtricsKeeping employees engaged can have a significant impact on an organisation’s top line. An excellent way of doing so is to seek feedback throughout the employee lifecycle to ensure that they feel valued and have input into how to improve their working environment.

Recent research by Gallup found that a five per cent improvement in employee engagement can lead to a three per cent increase in sales, confirming the dividends this can deliver.

The research also found that there is much room for improvement when it comes to employee engagement, with just 29 per cent of employees found to be actively engaged in their jobs, 54 per cent not engaged, and 17 per cent actively disengaged.

Actively disengaged employees can undermine what other colleagues are trying to accomplish, and they bring an air of negativity and unhappiness to the workplace, which is not good for anyone.

The statistics are worrying because, if employees are not engaged, this will greatly inhibit an organisation’s chances of achieving their business objectives. Engaged employees care about the company and its future direction. They also enjoy what they do and are committed to being successful on a personal level, as well as helping to deliver success to the company as a whole. It goes without saying that these are all attributes a company would want in its employees, so how can managers foster an environment where that type of engagement is prevalent?

Collecting feedback from employees at every stage of their interaction with the business can give the organisation insight into how they can improve the employee experience and retain top talent. It’s common sense to give those who are working at the coalface the opportunity to report on what they think works and what needs to improve. This approach helps the business identify and solve problems much sooner, with minimal damage to the business. It is also a great way to get employee buy-in and improve staff morale, as they feel they are respected and are making a valuable contribution to the company.

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Organisations should focus employee lifecycle feedback programs on the following key employee touchpoints:


Candidates should be evaluated throughout the pre-hire process to give the organisation insights before employees are onboarded. Recruiting surveys help the organisation make better hiring decisions and identify changes that need to be made to the recruitment, assessment and selection processes, as well as improve acceptance rates.

Organisations should solicit feedback from both successful and unsuccessful candidates to get a broader range of perspectives on the recruitment process.


Onboarding feedback measures how new employees rate their early experiences with the organisation, including training and orientation. These surveys are valuable, as they can show whether employees have the knowledge and training required to be successful in their jobs.

Companies invest significantly in new employees. By improving the onboarding process, the ramp time to value can be reduced, thereby accelerating the ROI from the new hire investment.

Employee engagement survey:

Employee engagement surveys gauge the levels and key drivers of engagement. This helps the organisation to benchmark engagement across all departments and employees. The feedback then lets managers develop action plans to address any highlighted areas for improvement.

Engagement pulse surveys:

Pulse surveys complement employee engagement surveys. They let organisations dig deeper into the issues that arise in the annual or bi-annual engagement surveys, or into a particular team/department. They also let organisations monitor trends over time and identify seasonal issues.

Pulse surveys are most effective when implemented throughout the year to determine the effectiveness of any action plans that were developed based on the engagement survey feedback. By using smaller samples of employees (that are statistically representative, e.g. 10 to 25 per cent) organisations can avoid survey fatigue and ensure higher response rates.

Developmental 180- and 360-degree surveys:

Organisations are abandoning traditional performance reviews and moving towards 180 and 360-degree assessment reviews instead. This means that, rather than just receiving performance feedback from their manager, employees also get feedback from peers and other departments to build a holistic performance review.

To be effective, organisations should base these assessments on the employee’s core competency model and distribute the reports within 24 hours of collecting the data so it’s still relevant.

Employee exits:

Exit surveys are important to help an organisation identify the reasons employees leave so changes can be made where needed to reduce the expensive turnover process. Quantifying the reasons for leaving, especially regretted departures, can help produce insights that the company can act upon. Automated surveys also help to produce honest feedback, which is often harder to obtain in face-to-face exit interviews.

Employee engagement is directly linked to improved customer experience, which, in turn, is directly related to increased revenues, so it should always be a key focus area for organisations. One of the best ways to run an employee lifecycle program is through a realtime survey platform that is sophisticated, yet easy-to-use. This way, it is easy for employees to provide feedback and the organisation can see the feedback in real-time (even before the survey has closed) so they can take action quickly on the data being collected.

In summary, a clear vision from management, combined with an inclusive culture that provides employees with the opportunity to contribute to the success of the organisation, as well as a clearly-defined pathway for their own personal development, will go a long way towards fostering a climate where employee engagement is high.

Bill McMurray is Managing Director - Asia-Pacific and Japan, at Qualtrics. Bill is an international technology executive with over 30 years of experience in the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) industry.