You’ve conducted employee engagement surveys across your organization (made easier with employee engagement software) and have enough feedback to guide your decision-making processes. While surveys are good, listening alone isn’t enough—your team expects and needs resolutions.
In fact, Gallup found that employees who strongly agree that their managers act on survey results are twice as likely to be engaged. Yet only 8% strongly agree their organization acts on those surveys.
With a smart action plan, you can empower your team members to take ownership over shared goals, motivate them to follow through, and make your business more profitable.
What is an Employee Engagement Action Plan?
In Measuring the Success of Employee Engagement, renowned experts Jack Phillips and Patti Phillips define an employee engagement action plan as:
“A focused plan that details the steps linked to and necessary for building support for business impact measures.”
In other words, an employee engagement action plan breaks down the steps you need to take to implement the survey feedback from your team members and grow your business.
Employee surveys are beneficial to your business. But it’s the discussions and actions taken based on employee feedback that can increase engagement levels.
The challenge for leadership teams is in providing results of pulse surveys back to their respondents and acting on the issues these surveys bring to light.
Gallup reports that 55% of employees strongly agree they received survey results back while only 8% say their employer implements the employee survey results in an action plan. This lack of follow-through leads to lower engagement rates and impacts the employee experience.
Committing to improvement and preventing survey data from going unheard requires:
- Developing an action team within your organization, and
- Writing and implementing an employee engagement action plan.
Let’s get started:
How to Write an Employee Engagement Action Plan (Step-by-Step)
Using employee engagement survey results to create an action plan ensures you have a deliberate and effective strategy to improve the work environment and maximize employee performance.
Follow these steps to develop an effective employee engagement action plan that yields results for your business.
Step 1. Analyze Your Survey Results
Review and analyze survey data to interpret the results, looking for the engagement story behind the numbers and preliminary insights into your employees’ issues.
Prepare your meeting agenda for the discussion. Involve your team members when selecting the issues to work on and pick items they collectively agree on.
Make sure your action team has access to key data, including the employee engagement survey results. At first glance, the information may overwhelm you, but it’s easier when you look at the following aspects the data brings to light:
- Strengths: Focus on survey questions with high scores. These organizational strong points. In the results, identify employee recognition ideas and other drivers that can help you ensure these items remain strengths.
- Development areas: If you find survey questions with a 3 or 4 out of 5 scores, it means those engagement items are not achieved consistently among your employees. These are the lowest-hanging fruit for significant improvement, so consider what else you need to discover from your employees to explore those areas further. If the scores point to one department or area of concern, follow-up surveys may be required to get more granular insight for solving the engagement barrier.
- Foundational needs: Without a solid base, it’ll be difficult to build employee engagement. Find out whether your team’s foundational (basic and individual) needs like salaries, bonuses, recognition, and more are being met, as these form the foundation of a great workplace.
Step 2. Share, Discuss, and Learn From the Survey Results
To ensure a successful meeting, create a climate of open dialogue about the survey results, express a desire to improve the work culture, and ask your action team for their help.
Explain why you conducted the survey and review the key concepts of employee engagement (company culture, communication, employee rewards programs, recognition, etc.) asking what each survey item means to them. This helps you uncover the engagement stories behind the data and gain a full understanding of the results. Ask your team to ponder over the areas that were critical to them, giving them time to discuss and share their responses.
Your goal is to determine:
- What engagement means to your organization
- What engagement barriers you must overcome
- How you define success in overcoming these barriers, and
- How you intend to improve engagement.
Step 3: Set Goals and Develop Team and Organization Action Points
The next step is to create engagement. Use the discussion points in Step 2 to establish the following:
- Engagement barriers and easy wins: Identify the priority items for your team. This includes major concerns (difficult barriers) and immediately solvable issues (easy barriers) they can act on that will create fast improvement.
- Break each barrier into an opportunity, strength, and goal: This makes the action required to solve the barrier more evident. For example, if the barrier is a lack of software knowledge, you can break it down as follows:
Opportunity: We can provide training to overcome this barrier.
Strength: We already have an LMS that can be used for this.
Engagement goal: Monthly online training for workers who engage with this software.
- Performance goals: Identify the team’s key performance goals and link them to engagement strengths and opportunities. This helps them see the impact of engagement on performance. You can use KPIs or OKRs to define success.
- Action points: Brainstorm simple and actionable ideas that can help you improve engagement in the organization and impact performance. Once you complete the goals and action points, determine ownership for each action and set a time for reviewing progress and a timeframe for achievement.
You may need several team meetings to finalize your action plan details.
Step 4: Make Engagement a Daily Priority
Once you have the action plan in place, create guidelines on how your organization can create awareness about engagement and foster an environment that drives engagement.
Make engagement a priority, constant focus, and part of your action team’s daily routine. The small everyday actions and interactions around improvement will help you build engagement.
Some action points you can take could include:
- Using tools for employee engagement to help the workforce be happier and more satisfied at work
- Setting Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to boost engagement and keep your team informed about performance goals and progress
- Holding stay interviews with employees who might want to quit or leave your organization
- Offering flexi-time for workers or a hybrid work model to avoid burnout and enhance work-life balance
- Institute employee recognition programs and regularly adjust to suit the changing needs of your organization.
- Periodically revise the employee perks and benefits you offer, whether it’s for new hires or those who’ve been on your team for longer. Determine whether these are still in line with what employees want.
- Host regular open forums (breakfasts, Town Hall meetings, luncheons, etc) for employees at departmental or organizational levels.
- Let employees meet senior leadership for Q&A sessions.
Step 5: Follow Up on Action Team Goals Regularly
Engagement is a continuous objective. Once you achieve success on a goal, follow up regularly through engagement talks and surveys. Repeat these steps to develop the next employee engagement action plan.
Establish a regular schedule to follow up on your action plan items while evaluating progress on performance goals. Recognize quick wins and big wins, then review and recalibrate your plan as and when necessary.
For example, you can regularly lead a chat session, one-on-one meeting or team meeting to find out whether your efforts:
- Made the desired difference, or
- Need adjustment.
If you’re off the mark, have a brainstorming session to discuss alternative actions.
Remember, the action plan isn’t the same as engagement. It’s an outline that guides you as you write your organization’s engagement story.
Why is an Employee Engagement Action Plan Important?
Gallup’s 30+ years of studies on employee engagement using the 12-item survey have continuously found that well-planned employee journey management has a positive effect on employees and their workplaces.
To determine this effect, Gallup posed this statement to survey workgroups: “Action plans from the last survey have had a positive impact on my workplace.” Survey respondents who strongly agreed with the statement increased their employee engagement scores by an average of 10% while those that strongly disagreed saw their engagement scores reduce by 3% on average.
This indicates the importance of action planning, and its impact on employee retention and productivity, as well as business profitability.
Specifically, an employee engagement action plan helps you achieve the following:
Facilitates High-performing Teams
When your team members know their voices matter, they’re more engaged and connected in their roles and happier with the workplace. In fact, a Gallup study shows that highly engaged business units realize an 81% difference in absenteeism and a 14% difference in productivity.
Reduce Employee Turnover and Attrition Rates
An organization with a healthy company culture has more satisfied employees and lower turnover. Through your action plan, you can retain the very best talent that are key to your business, as engaged employees are more satisfied and loyal to the organization.
Increase Your Return on Investment (ROI)
Investing time and resources into your action plan and employee engagement strategies brings significant financial gains to your business. It helps improve efficiency and generate more revenue growth, as engaged employees are more productive and less likely to quit their jobs.
Accurately Measure Employee Engagement Progress
A comprehensive employee engagement action plan details how you’ll measure engagement to determine improvement. This outlines the key engagement drivers, benchmarks, metrics, and milestones in your organization that help you gauge the success of your engagement activities.
Keep Everyone Committed and Accountable
An action plan helps you evaluate and redesign initiatives while ensuring employees, managers, and the leadership commit to the changes that will have the most impact. As the action plan has measurable KPIs, there is also a clear expectation and accountability.
Build Your Employer Brand
With satisfied and happier employees, you’ll increase your employee Net Promoter Score and attract top talent. Prospective employees will notice how you appreciate and engage your current workforce and want to work for your organization, making it easier for you to recruit and hire passionate and qualified talent.
Identify Root Causes of Employee Perceptions
With an action plan for employee engagement, you can pinpoint why your team members behave as they do, identify and understand what motivates their loyalty, and use data-driven solutions to establish the appropriate measures to respond to their feedback.
In an interview with HR News, Nicky Griffin—a senior practice development lawyer—had this to say about giving employees a voice in business:
“...the (FRC Workforce Engagement) report clearly shows that a lot of companies have got some way to go. Use those findings, look at the way in which you have engaged with your workforce. What they are looking at and suggesting, and I really like this phrase, is to create an ‘effective feedback loop’... So, once you have got that feedback, give feedback to your employees [on] the decisions made at the board level? They will quickly see if you're doing [surveys] as a cynical sort of tick box exercise and they won't engage, but actually engaged employees are better employees...”
3 Examples of Employee Engagement Action Plans
We’ve covered how to write an employee engagement action plan. But what do the nuts and bolts of this look like?
Here are a few examples of action plans you can use to inform your employee engagement strategies and processes. You can review to see what would work for your business to help you get started with your own action plan.
Example 1: University of Aberdeen’s 2016-2018 Employee Engagement Action Plan
Example 2: Coventry City Council’s Employee Engagement Plan 2021-2023
Example 3: Gloucestershire County Council’s Employee Engagement Strategy 2018-2021
Employee Engagement Action Plan Templates and Toolkits
Ready to take the next step towards creating your company’s action plan?
Here are some great employee engagement action plan toolkits you can review and download to get your planning off to the best possible start.
- Vanderbilt’s Employee Engagement Action Planning Toolkit
- King County’s Employee Engagement Action Planning Tool Kits
- Workshop’s Employee Engagement Action Plan Template
- Creately’s Employee Engagement Action Plan Template
- ClickUp’s Employee Engagement Action Plan Template
Make Your Employee Engagement Action Plan Work
While creating an employee engagement action plan seems like an overwhelming process, it needn’t be complicated.
Try one or more of the templates we’ve shared in this guide compared with the examples listed above to tailor-make your company’s employee engagement action plan. Any action you take is a step in the right direction.