Interpreting Employee Engagement Survey Results

Surveys can be a great way to gain more insight into the workplace, especially when it comes to employee satisfaction and determining what they need to be effective and happy in their roles. Taking employee feedback seriously and implementing certain changes can help keep current employees happy and makes them less likely to seek employment elsewhere.

Engaged employees are also crucial to company success–according to Gallup research, they outperform their unengaged counterparts by 147%. Surveys are also helpful in making your organization and specific roles more appealing to potential new hires. But interpreting employee engagement survey results accurately is crucial to being aware of and addressing potential issues.

Work together

First, the task of interpreting data from an employee engagement survey should be a combined effort between HR, management, and the leadership team. To streamline the process, consider using analytics software to sift through and quantify the data, allowing you to focus your time and energy on identifying notable problem areas and their solutions.

Response rate

The first data point to consider is how many employees completed the survey. Ideally, 70% to 80% of employees will respond, and a response rate lower than 60% is a red flag. This could mean a variety of things, from technical difficulties like accessing and completing the survey to negative attitudes towards the process.

Employees may not feel comfortable sharing their feedback, especially if it’s negative, or if previous survey results were not acted upon, employees may feel that the survey is a waste of time because they’re not being listened to anyway.

Organize data

To best interpret additional data, it should be organized. Take a look at broad, organization-wide rends, but also be sure to break down results into smaller groups, such as individual departments, levels like management or executives, or employees’ location, gender, or age. Also pay attention to written comments. Although these are hard to quantify, they can give you valuable, specific information on employees’ pain points and desired solutions and can help contextualize numerical data.

Note trends.

With the data organized, noticing trends will be easier, such as whether engagement has decreased overall or only in certain departments or if employee of a certain age are experiencing burnout more than others. Also consider how your results compare with other companies, as well as your industry and employees nationwide.

Determine importance

Next, determine how meaningful, if at all, these trends are. Some fluctuations in numbers can be attributed to things like human nature being fickle or simple error, while others could be a signal that a problem needs addressed.

Also consider factors such as timing.

Employees might be struggling more at your busiest time of year and might report more satisfaction when they have less work on their plate and therefore less stress. Other factors that can impact results include business size and your specific industry.


After you determine a trend is worth addressing, you can take action. If you find that a certain level, such as managers, is struggling and reporting notable increased levels of dissatisfaction, you can offer them more support and resources to help them do their jobs successfully. Perhaps employees in certain age groups respond differently to different types of recognition.

Also consider your reaction to the data, such as if anything is surprising.

It is important to keep in mind that all employees are different and that those identified as “disengaged” may not respond the same way to efforts to improve their engagement. In addition, if a company operates internationally or has employees who were raised in a different culture, this could also explain some issues with employee engagement.

Whether the feedback is positive or negative, an employee engagement survey provides plenty of valuable information to help make your organization the best it can be. Interpreting the data you receive is the first step.

Huynh Nguyen

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