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How Often Should You Conduct Employee Engagement Surveys?

/ 9.20.16


At Quantum Workplace, we believe consistent, annual employee engagement surveys are better than less frequent surveys (e.g., every 18 months, every two years). But what good is a simple gut feeling if you don’t have hard data to support it? This study aimed to prove (or disprove) our hypothesis that conducting comprehensive employee engagement surveys on an annual basis would show larger result increases than conducting surveys on a wider, less frequent timeline.




Below is the first set of results showing increases among favorable perceptions from one survey to the next.



As we can see, these results…wait…what!? These results are not good. Well, they’re good because we can see that either survey frequency shows positive change, but they’re not good for our philosophy that “annual provides better results.” In fact, the increases across survey frequency cancel each other out, suggesting that it doesn’t matter whether organizations survey annually or non-annually.


But wait!

It’s not enough to look at changes from only one survey to the next; that scope is too short-term and doesn’t account for the nuance of consistency. Let’s take a closer look and compare engagement increases among organizations that consistently survey annually versus those that don’t. The chart below shows favorability increases from the first to third survey administration.




Now that’s more like it! Over three survey administrations, organizations that consistently conducted annual engagement surveys saw favorability increases 2.5X greater than the increases seen among organizations that conducted engagement surveys on a less frequent timeline. Although both groups started at almost the exact same favorability rating (67%), annual surveyors experienced a 6.86 percentage-point increase in favorability, compared to inconsistent surveyors who saw only a 2.78 percentage-point increase.


Key Takeaway: Consistent, Annual Surveys Yield Better Results

The gains from a consistent, annual survey process are not only higher than less frequent surveying, but those gains also occur over a shorter span of time. Conducting a consistent, annual employee engagement survey strategy is like driving on a long stretch of interstate; you move faster with fewer obstacles. On the flip side, surveying on a less frequent timeline is like driving in city traffic during rush hour; there are more obstacles in your way, you may get more distracted, and the process is a start-and-stop approach.


Progress is made in both cases; it’s just that one is more efficient than the other.


None of this is to suggest that “just responding to surveys” is somehow driving positive change. Instead, organizations that consistently administer employee engagement surveys on an annual basis likely view the engagement process as a strategic imperative. Leadership and management within these organizations are likely more intentional, mindful, and deliberate in establishing an organizational habit around employee engagement.


Engagement is a continuously evolving, never-ending conversation that requires consistent dialogue and a devotion to resources that promote discussion. That conversation stays alive with an annual survey, and consistency ensures that the life of those conversations thrive.


Research Method

To be included in this study, organizations had to complete Quantum Workplace’s standard survey at least twice between 2009 and August, 2016. The time in between two surveys was considered “annual” if there was a gap of 10-14 months between each survey (this range is to account for organizations that may have had to slightly adjust their timelines). “Non-annual” meant survey administrations were more than 14 months apart. Organizations with survey administrations less than 10 months apart were removed from analysis because these edge too closely to a pulse survey. Overall, the final sample included 153 organizations.



For more advice on the survey process, download our comprehensive whitepaper: Conducting an Employee Engagement Survey: The Complete Guide


Free ebook! The Complete Guide to Conducting an Employee Engagement Survey



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