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Beyond the Survey: An Internal Communicator's Guide to Understanding Employee Engagement Results

In effort to prove our value, we internal communicators often hitch our wagon to the employee engagement movement. At least there's some research to tie employee experience to a company’s financial results. To wit: Willis Towers Watson, a leading client services company that specializes in employee engagement measurement found that "companies demonstrating a strong EX consistently beat their sector on average by a clear margin of 2 to 4 percentage points (pp) across key performance metrics, including return on assets and equity, one-year change in profitability, and three-year changes in revenue and profitability."

Sounds great. But how does communication impact engagement? We want a piece of that ROI pie. And it’s totally possible to get started correlating communication and employee engagement in two easy steps!

When analyzing your employee engagement results, you need to start with who you’re measuring.

  • Who is taking your employee engagement survey? Demographics are a key component in understanding results.

  • What are their business opportunities and challenges? Employees in an area that has had financial success and strong operational performance are likely to have more favorable results. If part of your business is struggling with downsizing, people are facing uncertainty while taking on more responsibility as they watch their colleagues depart. Bottom line: Results reflect the employees’ business environment.

  • Is there anything going on locally that would impact results? This can also be as specific as how people feel about their specific office culture – warm and inviting versus cold and sterile.

Second, look at what you’re measuring. To assess internal communications' impact on employee engagement results, you need to understand the questions that are being asked.

  • What survey areas are actually impacted by internal communications?

    • Leadership: Internal communications can impact how leaders are perceived.

    • Customers: You can drive employees’ favorable opinions of your products and services.

    • General engagement: Strong internal communications generate pride in an organization and a willingness to recommend it to potential employees.

    • Do yourself a favor and make no claims to the compensation and benefits questions – That’s a zero-sum game!

  • How do employees perceive the questions? If you have an ambiguous term like “management,” understanding who that represents to your employee groups is critical to understand how to address any issues. Spoiler alert: definitions are different for nearly every employee, so if you have a chance to change the language, it’s worth the ask.

It’s likely that your survey remains relatively static throughout the years. I mean, we love a good benchmark, don’t we?! It might be impossible (or at the very least, difficult) to change, but if you follow these steps, you can use the answers to the questions above to adapt your messaging and communications channels to impact employee engagement.

If you want to dig in even deeper to make a positive change in your company, learn more about creating targeted action plans using your new understanding of employee engagement results.


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