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Activate Human Capital Group Blog

For many years, employers have been providing employees with yearly surveys to gauge their satisfaction. While satisfaction surveys can be a good tool for an organization, understanding the difference between a satisfaction survey and an employee engagement survey can really help to set your organization apart and ensure your employees are not only happy with their work environment, but are engaged in it.

I equate the elements of job satisfaction to “ticket to entry” items or “table stakes”. If these elements aren’t good enough, the best candidates won’t sign on and your best people will leave. Think about it this way: satisfaction surveys measure satisfaction. At best, satisfied employees are simply NOT dissatisfied. Is that the goal of an ongoing employee pulse survey? To ensure that your best people aren’t dissatisfied?

Satisfaction surveys address factors like compensation, workload, environment, perception of management, flexibility, etc. Their main goal is to flag areas of dissatisfaction. Satisfied employees aren’t your most valued employees though – engaged employees are.

So how does an engagement survey outperform efforts to address satisfaction? Striving for high employee engagement lands an organization full of people who are passionate about their jobs, their customers, their team members, and the purpose of the company they work for; people who are committed to making the voluntary, extra effort that takes their work quality from satisfactory to exceptional.  

When you add factors like passion, commitment, and discretionary effort to an employee’s description, you automatically experience the boost of an engaged employee. They are more motivated than their satisfied peers and go far beyond the bare minimum required to keep their positions. These people love to be challenged and their performance reflects it.

In structuring an employee engagement survey, make sure you’ve got these three key items:

1.  Benchmark data from a broad database.

While it’s tempting to want to compare your rural school district to other rural school districts of roughly the same size, don’t fall into the trap of trying to compare your organization to others just like you. In today’s tight labor market, you’re competing with a huge, ever-changing set of companies for employees that you’d never have to compete with for customers. 


2.  Survey items that empower team-level improvement.

If you think about it, you’ll recognize the truism that you have as many “cultures” as you have managers. As such, nearly every item on your survey should be open to discussion and change at the team level. Your managers are the ones who impact engagement with every interaction – positively or negatively.


3.  A partner that can help you bring the data to life.

Select an engagement partner with demonstrated expertise. TONS of companies offer add-on engagement surveys but few focus on engagement as their core business. Few can offer you the assistance you’ll need in interpreting the results and building a useful roadmap that will create meaningful improvements in engagement, employee retention, and business results.

To ensure your employee surveys are geared toward retaining and developing your most talented employees, contact Activate Human Capital Group. If you’re ready to get started, check out our calculator to estimate your budget for various investment/assistance levels. Our experienced staff can help create an engagement roadmap that fits the needs for your organization and interpret the results in a meaningful way to increase retention, productivity, and offer the opportunities engaged employees crave. We specialize in activating engagement so your organization, and the individuals within it can thrive.