How to Design an Easy and Effective Employee Engagement Action Plan

When done right, post-survey action planning can elevate engagement, bolster performance, and reinforce your organization's dedication to employee success.


Creating a thriving workplace where employees are engaged, motivated, and committed is a top priority for organizations. But you can't improve employee engagement through surveys alone. Improving engagement begins with action.

In this comprehensive guide, we explore the art of easy and effective employee engagement action planning.

You’ll learn how to turn employee survey insights into impactful changes, engage your team in meaningful discussions, and leverage advanced tools to drive success. Discover the strategies that not only boost employee engagement but also foster a culture of continuous improvement and growth.


What is an employee engagement action plan?

An employee engagement action plan is a strategic framework that outlines specific steps and initiatives an organization intends to take based on the results of employee surveys. 

It aims to enhance employee engagement by addressing key engagement areas such as employee growth and development, compensation, communication, trust in leadership, and work-life balance. Action plans are designed to improve the overall employee experience and boost organizational performance by translating employee feedback into actionable changes.

Your employee engagement action plan helps you move from insights to tangible improvements that you can measure and monitor.

What are the benefits of an employee engagement action plan?

Implementing an employee engagement action plan isn't just a good practice; it's a strategic imperative for organizations that want to thrive in today's competitive landscape. Here are some compelling benefits, supported by our recent research:

1. Action planning improves employee engagement.

One of the most apparent advantages of an action plan is the substantial boost it can give to employee engagement. (Yes, your action plan may boost engagement in and of itself!)

According to our research, about 2 in 3 employees believe their organizations fall short in effectively responding to survey results. However, when organizations take concrete steps based on survey feedback, they show employees that their voices are heard, leading to increased engagement.


2. Action planning enhances organizational culture.

An effective action plan can reshape an organization's culture. When employees witness leadership's commitment to acting on feedback and making meaningful improvements, it fosters a culture of continuous improvement and transparency. 

Engaged employees are 3.3 times more likely to feel ownership and involvement in the action-taking process.


3. Action planning increases employee retention.

Employees want to see action taken on crucial aspects of their work life. The most common areas employees want to see improved include career growth, pay and benefits, and communication.

Implementing an action plan that addresses these concerns can significantly enhance employee satisfaction levels and lead to improved retention rates.

By addressing the issues that matter most to employees through a well-crafted action plan, organizations can reduce turnover and the associated costs of recruitment and training.


4. Action planning empowers data-driven decision making.

Investing in an action plan empowers HR leaders with the tools needed for data-driven decision-making. It enables organizations to utilize advanced people analytics to identify key focus areas, allocate resources efficiently, and track progress effectively.


5. Action planning enhances communication.

Many organizations struggle with poor communication as a barrier to taking effective action on surveys. An action plan can help improve communication channels, ensuring transparency, timeliness, and relevancy. Effective communication, in turn, aids in keeping employees informed about the actions being taken and why.


6. Action planning holds leaders accountable.

Leadership involvement is a critical factor in effective action-taking. Organizations with involved leaders are more likely to have successful post-survey action. In order to see results, your leadership has to prioritize employee engagement, invest in initiatives, and actively communicate and champion organizational priorities.

Your employee engagement action plan can help you build a workplace where employees feel heard, valued, and engaged.

It has the potential to transform organizational culture, boost employee satisfaction, and drive performance improvements. Not to mention, the right plan equips your HR leaders with the insights they need to remain competitive in the ever-evolving world of work.


Who is responsible for employee engagement action planning?

Everyone plays a role in employee engagement—that includes providing feedback, generating ideas for improvement, and taking action. While senior leaders and HR leaders set the strategic direction, managers and employees at all levels actively participate in the process. 

By working together, your team can ensure survey feedback is translated into meaningful actions that enhance engagement and contribute to a thriving workplace culture. Buy-in is critical, as lack of time, resource, and prioritization represents the largest barrier to taking effective action on surveys at 21%.

Let’s break down the roles in more detail.

The role of senior leaders in action planning

Senior leaders are primarily responsible for setting the tone and direction of engagement initiatives. According to our research, 76% of employees believe that senior leaders are solely responsible for taking action on surveys

And while it’s true that leaders should champion engagement efforts, allocate resources, and communicate the importance of engagement to the entire organization, the responsibility has to fall on more than their shoulders.

taking action-1

The role of HR Leaders in action planning

Human Resources (HR) leaders are integral to the action planning process. And that’s no surprise! The HR department is the ideal team to initiate and oversee engagement surveys, collect and analyze data, and play a central role in the design and execution of action plans. 

HR leaders also communicate the survey results, action plan progress, and the rationale behind specific actions to employees.


The role of managers in action planning

No employee engagement plan is complete without buy in from your management team. Managers and supervisors are essential for translating engagement initiatives into actionable steps at the team level. They are responsible for conducting team discussions about survey results, involving team members in action planning, and tracking progress. 

Engaging managers actively review, discuss, and act on team results to drive improvement.


The role of employees in action planning

Any plan that is for employees should involve your employees. And your engagement action plan is no different! Employees can (and should) have a voice in the action planning process.

Only 1 in 3 employees say they are involved in planning and taking action on engagement.

Employees want to feel ownership in helping to improve the employee experience.

And that’s not all. Action planning that involves employees in decision-making enhances engagement and fosters a sense of ownership in improving the employee experience.

In essence, successful action planning involves collaboration and shared responsibility. 


How to create an employee engagement action plan

Now that you understand some of the benefits of employee engagement action planning, let’s talk about how to build your plan. 

The AFTER framework (Analysis, Focus, Team Ideation, Execution Plan, Reminders & Reinforcement) provides a structured approach to this process. 

Don’t worry! We’ve broken down each step:

1. Analysis: review your employee engagement survey results.

Remember that about 2 in 3 employees say their organizations fall short in effectively responding to survey results, highlighting the critical need for insightful analysis. 

Start by delving into the survey data, but don't stop at mere numbers. Truly understanding the data means grasping the sentiment and feedback expressed by your employees. Dive into the comments and responses to get a deeper sense of their experiences.

Identify both strengths and weaknesses within your organization. What are you excelling at, and where are you falling short? These insights provide a basis for building upon what works and addressing areas that need attention. Contextualize the results by examining comments and feedback. This step is essential for understanding why certain scores are the way they are. What recurring themes or patterns can you identify in the feedback? These patterns can offer vital context and direction.

Remember, this job isn’t just for one person or team. 

Engage not just HR and senior leadership but also your managers in the analysis. They play a pivotal role, especially at the team level, in understanding and interpreting survey results. Share the data promptly and ensure they comprehend its implications.

While survey scores matter, remember that they're a means to an end. The primary focus should be on the feedback and the actionable insights it provides. Feedback from your employees serves as a roadmap for improvement, guiding you toward a more engaged and productive workforce.

Identify recurring themes or trends within the data, which can guide your focus areas. Common issues or opportunities mentioned across teams or departments should be prioritized in your action plan.

The analysis phase transforms raw survey data into actionable intelligence. It equips you with the knowledge needed to make strategic decisions and lay the groundwork for an effective employee engagement action plan.


2. Focus: choose your focus areas.

Once you've thoroughly analyzed your employee engagement survey data, it's time to distill your findings into actionable priorities. This is where you decide which areas of your organization's engagement strategy require the most immediate attention.

A few questions to consider at this stage are:

  • Which results could we improve with simple changes?
  • Which survey questions have the greatest impact on engagement?
  • Can any items be grouped under one theme?
  • What were our lowest scoring areas?

Our research shows that the most common actions employees want to see revolve around career growth, pay and benefits, and improved communication.

focus areas-1

Your choices should be informed not only by the magnitude of change these areas can bring but also by factors such as the feasibility of change and the effort required to make it happen.

If you’re still having trouble narrowing down your focus areas, consider the following:

  • Potential for Impact: Prioritize areas that, when improved, will have a meaningful effect on employee engagement. Focus on those aspects that resonate most with your employees and are closely tied to their satisfaction and performance.
  • Feasibility: Assess how achievable the desired changes are within your organization's current context. Are there resources, both human and financial, available to support these improvements? Can you realistically implement changes within a reasonable timeframe?
  • Effort Required: Gauge the level of effort necessary to enact change in these areas. Some initiatives may be relatively straightforward to implement, while others might require a more substantial commitment of time and resources.

To ensure the commitment and accountability needed for success, involve your team, including managers and employees, in the decision-making process. This collaborative approach not only gathers valuable input but also fosters a sense of ownership and shared responsibility.


Want to learn more? Download our comprehensive guide: Unlocking Employee  Engagement

3. Team Ideation: brainstorm potential action items.

Next, create focus groups assigned to each target area you’ve identified. The focus groups will work together to discuss what may be impacting the score for each item, identify possible challenges in addressing those issues, and brainstorm solutions. 

This is an important step in developing a successful employee engagement action plan because a score on a survey question can only tell you so much. Bringing your team together to discuss what is happening will help you target your efforts more effectively.

Don't treat these focus groups like any old meeting. Find ways to facilitate a creative and open dialogue—perhaps using some principles of design thinking. This helps teams challenge assumptions, incorporate diversity of thoughts, and reframe problems into opportunities. 

A simple way to document your discussion is to outline the following for each focus item:

  • How do we struggle in this area?
  • Why do you think we struggle in this area?
  • What does our team or organization do to help or hurt this outcome?
  • In an ideal future, how would this look different?
  • Next, translate those ideas into takeaways.

Review the discussion notes and start brainstorming ideas on how to improve each focus area. List as many ideas as you can, then discuss which ones the group likes best. You should come away with at least a few solutions to act on.

Looking for more? Check out these 50 employee engagement ideas.


4. Execution Plan: commit to action.

Now that you’ve identified your top solutions, it’s time to commit to your employee engagement action plan. This is a crucial step because you need to hold team members accountable in order to see a long-term impact on engagement. 

Without clear commitment and accountability, most people’s efforts will fizzle with time as they lose motivation or get distracted by other priorities throughout the year. As you define your action plan, be sure to include the following documentation:

  • Specific Actions: Clearly outline the actions your organization is committing to take. These should be specific, actionable, and directly related to your focus areas.
  • Responsibility: Assign roles and responsibilities for each action. Define who is accountable for overseeing and executing the tasks. This role clarity ensures that no action falls by the wayside due to ambiguity.
  • Timelines: Specify due dates and timelines for each action. A well-defined schedule keeps everyone on track and prevents procrastination.
  • Success Metrics: Describe how you will measure the success of each action. Whether it's through improved survey scores, increased employee satisfaction, or other relevant KPIs, having defined metrics allows you to assess progress objectively.
  • Progress Reports: Establish a timeline for progress reports. Regular check-ins and updates on action plan implementation help you monitor how well your plan is unfolding and make necessary adjustments.

By clearly outlining the action steps and who is accountable for the results, you can ensure your plan doesn't fall through the cracks.


5. Reminders & Reinforcement: communicate your progress.

Perhaps the most important part of creating and implementing your action plan is your employee engagement communication strategy. Share survey results and your final action plan with your employees. Treat your plan as a dynamic document, subject to updates. 

And now is the perfect time to make sure your entire team is involved.

When more employees at every level are involved in taking action on employee surveys, post-survey action is more likely to be effective.

sharing responsibility

HR should follow up with teams to monitor progress, overcome obstacles, and highlight success stories. Leaders and managers should actively communicate progress during meetings and town halls. Conduct periodic pulse surveys to gauge progress and gather employee feedback.

Work with teams to create team goals that are specific to the actions you have committed to and the results you are hoping to achieve. Making these goals public is a simple but effective way to hold teams accountable to the results, measure progress, and share successes along the way.

As weeks and months go by, be sure to follow up with managers and employees who have committed to specific actions. Effective action is characterized by the leader involvement, manager-led team conversations, and metric tracking.


Give progress updates in team meetings and town halls to help keep engagement top of mind throughout the year.

We put together a complete guide on how to communicate employee engagement survey results if you want to learn more. 

Pro Tip: Conduct periodic pulse surveys throughout the year to check in on employees and find out how well your managers are following up with their teams.

By following the AFTER framework, you can systematically build and implement an action plan that not only boosts employee engagement but also nurtures a culture of continuous improvement.


What are the most common challenges?

Building an effective employee engagement action plan comes with its fair share of challenges. Recognizing these hurdles and addressing them head-on is essential for the success of your engagement efforts. Let's explore some of the key barriers:

1. Limited Time, Resources, and Prioritization

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One of the most common challenges organizations face is the scarcity of time, resources, and a clear sense of prioritization. Teams often find themselves juggling numerous tasks and priorities, making it difficult to allocate the necessary time for meaningful action on survey results. 

However, it's crucial to understand that acting on survey feedback is worth prioritizing. Failure to do so can lead to broken trust, employee skepticism, and disengagement. To overcome this challenge, organizations should proactively schedule dedicated time for result analysis, discussion, and action planning.


2. Leader and Manager Buy-In

We really can’t stress this point enough: effective post-survey action cannot be solely owned solely by the HR department. Leaders and managers at all levels must be fully invested in the process. They need to actively participate in interpreting survey results, discussing them with their teams, and committing to action plans. 

HR plays a critical role in facilitating this process by providing guidance, coaching, and enabling managers to take the lead in driving engagement improvements. Ensuring clarity and simplicity in these processes is essential for successful buy-in from leadership.


3. Communication Gaps

Effective communication is vital throughout the employee engagement journey, from before the survey to after the action plan. Setting clear expectations around post-survey action is crucial. Share your intentions regarding how you intend to address employee feedback, preview the action planning process, and outline everyone's involvement. 

Effective communication should guide leaders and teams through each step of the action planning process, ensuring transparency and alignment with organizational goals. Maintaining strong, year-round communication fosters a culture of active listening and meaningful response.


Employee engagement action planning tools

Discover the essential tools that streamline the employee engagement action planning process. From insightful analytics to intuitive collaboration platforms, these tools empower your team to drive meaningful change efficiently. 

With the right employee engagement action planning tool, you’ll be better able to easily understand your team’s engagement results, facilitate team conversations around engagement, and commit to action.


1. Team engagement reports made for your managers

Quantum Workplace provides a report uniquely designed for your managers. The goal is to help managers get a grasp on their team's results—and have a roadmap for moving forward. You want to help them see beyond the numbers and to be able to focus on what really matters to engagement.

Team Report@3xOur Team Report helps elevate key survey insights and action areas based on team results. It tees up teams for productive conversations around boosting engagement. And it provides a tailored roadmap for action as a team.

Our team report includes:

  • Summary of engagement results
  • How the team compares to the organization
  • High impact questions that show what drives engagement
  • Key recommendations based on team results


2. Recommended focus areas, discussion starters, and actions

Your managers and teams are not trained HR analysts. You need survey analytics tools that help your teams quickly and easily identify key insights. This helps ensure they're spending less time analyzing and more time acting on results.

Discussion StartersQuantum Workplace's employee survey analytics include Smart Insights, helping you easily identify items with:

  • Highest favorability
  • Lowest favorability
  • Strongest favorability compared to the organization

Drivers of engagement will vary from team to team. Smart Insights helps signal key areas of focus that can lead to bigger impact for the organization.

With a simple click on any survey item, you can view related discussion starters or add action items to an action plan. It makes it easy for managers and teams to understand exactly what to celebrate and what to improve upon.

3. Organized and accessible action planning framework

Your survey results are meaningless without action. If you don't act on the feedback your employees provide, they're unlikely to keep sharing it with you. A structured action planning process can help you facilitate discussions, decide what is next, and track progress.

Action Library@3xQuantum Workplace offers action planning tools that help teams identify and commit to ongoing action. It's easy to add key survey items to an action plan, discuss potential actions with teams, and pull in actions inspired by our action library.

We also offer Smart Actions to help managers access tools that help them take employee engagement to the next level. For example, managers can create recurring 1-on-1s with smart topics based on team engagement results.

When managers and teams commit to ongoing action and conversation, it helps create a more meaningful, shared experience across the organization. Employees feel more invested in action, and feel heard and valued.


4. Tools to help employees drive their own engagement

Employees play a key role in their own engagement. Your survey reporting should also help employees understand how they can act on their own engagement results.

My Engagement Report@3xQuantum Workplace's My Engagement (ME) Report helps empower every employee to understand their own engagement—and find actionable ways to move forward.

Individual contributors can see how they compare to others in the organization and review suggestions for improvement. The ME Report provides immediate takeaways to help employees improve their own experience at work. This helps HR and senior leaders spread the responsibility of change and engagement across the entire organization. 

5. Tools to keep engagement & action top of mind

Many organizations go through an action planning process following their engagement survey. But few successfully keep engagement a priority throughout the year. Quantum Workplace's Engagement-Focused 1-on-1s help managers be more effective and keep conversations around engagement alive and actionable. 

Lightweight1on1s@3xQuantum Workplace offers Lightweight 1-on-1s to engagement survey customers. These continuous conversations help managers and teams discuss progress on engagement commitments long after the survey ends.

It's easy for your managers to set up recurring 1-on-1s that schedule automatically. Managers can set up a desired cadence, time, and length for each conversation and employee. This saves everyone administrative time and helps streamline planning for each conversation.

Managers and employees also benefit from Smart Topics, which suggests topics tailored to team engagement. This leads to more meaningful conversations and builds connection between managers and their teams.

Finally, managers and employees can use Action Items to help employees keep organized notes and ideas within 1-on-1s. This enables more effective follow-up. Managers and employees can easily track topics over time and stay aligned on current priorities.

Employee engagement action planning to critical to driving results. And everyone needs to lean in. See how Quantum Workplace can help your teams improve employee engagement. Get your demo today!

Mobilize your teams around engagement with Quantum Workplace. Get a demo.


Published June 29, 2023 | Written By Kristin Ryba