When’s the last time you asked your people, “How’s work going?” How did they respond? Maybe some responded with “yep, sweet as boss!”, leading you to think that you’re all on track and things are going well. For others, their people might respond with a “flat out mate!”, giving the manager a clue that some things might need shifting, yet leaving the manager confused as they’re not sure on exactly what to shift.

For many managers getting these kinds of responses is just not enough information to know what to keep continuing or what to start changing. It’s also often these kinds of responses that hide us from amazing opportunities that are holding our business back from truly growing and thriving.

Unlocking the Real Opportunities: Engagement Surveys

To unlock what’s really going on with your people, and discover the real answer behind “how’s work going?”, employee surveys are a key way to give your people a voice, and help take your business to the next level. Your people know your business the best. They are the ones on site, on the shop floor, up on the roof, under the house or down the corridor. These are the people who know what is working and what is not, and if asked in a safe environment, will tell you, and with added extras!
Our team at Tradie HR have seen numerous managers uncover and fix issues such as absenteeism and low productivity, just by uncovering the real reasons through surveying. Once the real reasons have been established, these successful managers have established a clear plan of action to help get their people back on track.

Getting an Engagement Survey Right

Running a survey shouldn’t be hard work. In fact, the best surveys are not complicated – they are written in clear language with unbiased questions. Below are some key dos and don’ts to help your survey get the real information and also keep your people engaged!


    • Have a communication plan: You’ve heard it before – communicate, communicate, communicate! Not just at the beginning, but the middle and at the end of the engagement survey process. In the beginning, tell them the plan, and ensure them that it’s a confidential and safe process. You’ll get much better answers. During the middle, let them know where you’re at. Then, communicate again at the end, such as letting everyone know what the responses were, the themes you’ve discovered and the action you’ll be taking. Just check that you keep the plan moving quickly and smoothly as the longer the gap between the survey and feedback the greater the risk that your people will lose interest. It’s advised that results are shared as quickly as possible.
    • Use an engagement survey expert: Asking the right question in the right way is critical, so cut yourself some slack and use someone who knows how to put these together. They’ll make sure you get the right kind of responses and ensure a survey and process that remains confidential and anonymous. They can also help with designing the questionnaire – ensuring the questions are relevant to the group taking part and are not biased.
    • Be creative: A lot of surveys are done electronically and that works well but for one of my clients that was not an option. Their staff were nervous about committing their responses through email as they felt this could be traced. We came up with an idea to go paper based. I know it’s old school but it worked. Employees were hand delivered their paper questionnaire along with a sealed envelope and a Kit Kat. We encouraged them to take a break, have a kit kat and do the survey! The response rate came in at an all-time high for the company. Take a creative approach and use it as a time to engage people in the engagement survey
    • Show courage: Running an engagement survey takes courage. It takes even more courage to share the results with the whole company as well. Yet, this is often where engagement surveys fall down. I have seen many engagement surveys begin with the right intentions, great introductory communications to the team, response rate is high, everyone is keenly filling out their questionnaire and then silence. No feedback from management to the team on the results or they only publish the more favourable ones, conveniently leaving out those not-so-great results.
      The bottom line is that if you are going to invest in doing an engagement survey, share the results, the good, the bad and the ugly. You will earn extra trust for doing so and your people are more likely to participate in the next survey. Appreciate that reading some the results and looking at the data can be confronting, but wouldn’t you rather know what your people thought than not?
    • Take and show action: Remember “the proof is in the pudding”, and it’s the same after the survey, that you make and more importantly, take action steps. A great way to do this is to make everyone part of this process. Create some project teams or get teams to choose two or three key initiatives that they want to see improvement on. This sends the message that management are listening to the survey feedback and acting on it.
    • Be open, honest and impartial: No matter which stage of the survey you’re at, keep it honest and real. Stay away from trying to arrange the results as better or worse than they actually are. It is really important that how you communicate the results back to the team sets the tone for future communications especially around receiving feedback and ideas. Being open builds trust and credibility.


    • Try to change opinions. I have seen this happen where managers have tried to persuade employees to change their opinions and scores. This is a time for humility. Embrace the comments, warts and all. Yes, there might be some venting that has gone on but there will be some nuggets of truth in there as well.
    • Sacrifice Confidentiality: Survey responses should be confidential. It is all about what is being said not who says it. The conversation should never turn into speculations about who said what. Doing that will be the quickest way to destroy the credibility of the survey process.

Finding the real answer can unleash the next stage of growth in your teams and your business. Give us at Tradie HR a call to help build your next Engagement Survey to unlock all of the real answers of your people.