Badge-EngagememtJaime Johnson, Director, The Survey Initiative, is passionate about implementing positive change in organisations. Here she discusses how to gain meaningful data to remove the blockers for change.

The majority of companies run regular employee surveys to measure levels of employee engagement within their workplace. Of course, no HR department worth its salt would simply sit on these results as it would encourage disengagement and a feeling of ‘not being heard’ by their workforce. I find it fascinating to drill down on key results to uncover what is really going on in an organisation and what can sometimes be a blocker for change on a local or national level.

We encourage all of our clients to place their employee engagement scores against key performance indicators (metrics such as staff turnover, customer satisfaction, turnover, profit, utilisation and any others that are relevant or used by our clients) as it’s the best way to understand how your actions are affecting your organisation’s bottom line. It’s also the best way to get your board to sit up and take notice, and find the necessary funds to support your HR strategies.

Once we’ve run a survey we analyse all of the data and present our findings to the board. We then work with our clients to create a series of communication tools, such as videos and presentations for use throughout the organisation to share the survey findings with middle management and all employees.

The results must always be the catalyst for change. But sometimes you need to understand the results more clearly to really understand the problem. Focus groups are ideal at gaining more ‘meat on the bones’ of engagement issues and also to enable your people in coming up with solutions. We frequently hear that communication, recognition and training are areas that many organisations fall down on. By creating a focus group facilitated by an independent consultant, staff feel free to share not only positive feedback, but also their moans and groans and to tell us why certain areas aren’t working and what should be done to help. A well run focus group should also create discussion and utilise methodologies such as stop/start/continue, appreciative enquiry, delayed thinking and word association to come up with completely fresh ideas on how to fix the blockers to change.

Working with a specific group within an organisation can have significant benefits as well. We frequently conduct workshops for middle managers who often find themselves squeezed by the demands of higher management and the pressures from their team members. This group are instrumental within an organisation as they’re responsible for and the conduit in spreading (and feeding back) the word about what’s going on and helping to shape culture and wellbeing. Don’t forget, line managers have a significant role to play in enabling high levels of employee engagement – one’s relationship with one’s line manager can be crucial to your engagement level! Gaining an insight into the mind of the middle manager is often key to unlocking both strategic and tactical blockers. By being part of a workshop process the group often discover a new found camaraderie and become empowered to both open up about the issues and work together to find innovative solutions.

Surveys will often pick up areas of the business that are not doing so well as others, such as a department, geographic zone or branch outlet. It is vital that your survey can focus in on these local details as otherwise you won’t uncover pockets of low engagement or productivity for example. Here the 360 degree survey can be vital to understanding what can be improved on a very local level. Here we can quickly uncover whether weak management is the blocker to falling sales or low productivity. In a team of, say, ten a well facilitated 360 degree survey will quickly uncover any team working and management issues, which can then be addressed to resolve the problem swiftly.  Often, identifying issues at this level is half the battle; supporting the process with individual feedback sessions, coaching and mentoring this group, will promote significant positive change.

Any change needs to be linked back to the survey feedback and results – “We are undertaking this change as a result of your feedback from the survey.” Generally, employees won’t make the link between the survey findings and any organisational or local change you implement – so the importance of a “you said, we did” campaign must not be underestimated.  Ensure that you are consistent with this feedback and make use of any survey branding that you used during the survey process to keep the change associated with the survey feedback.  Of course, it doesn’t stop there, the survey isn’t a one off process – your survey(s) need to be part of your engagement strategy – they must not sit alone or in isolation from the other critical work you undertake with your most important asset – your people.

Checklist for Positive Change:


Undertake a staff survey

  • Share the results with board and all members of the organisation
  • Create focus groups to come up with fresh ideas
  • Facilitate workshops with key groups to zone in on blockers
  • Offer 360 degree surveys
  • Gain ideas for change from all members of staff
  • Implement change and gain support from board down
  • Evaluate results of actions in next staff survey


To discover more about The Survey Initiative’s consulting services, visit





Robert joined the HRreview editorial team in October 2015. After graduating from the University of Salford in 2009 with a BA in Politics, Robert has spent several years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past he has been part of editorial teams at Flux Magazine, Mondo*Arc Magazine and The Marine Professional.