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Employee Focus Groups: Your Superpower for Improving Employee Engagement

Want ideas for improving employee engagement? Look no further than your employees.

Conducting employee focus groups is a great way to harness the collective intelligence of your employees and truly make an impact after your employee survey. It’s time to unleash this superpower every HR hero needs. Here’s the scoop on employee focus groups.

What is an employee focus group?

An employee focus group is a group of employees who are assembled to participate in a guided discussion about a particular topic or provide ongoing feedback. When used as a tool to improve employee engagement, employee focus groups typically leverage employee survey results as a starting point. A moderator will lead the group through examining survey results, open up items for discussion, and probe the group for potential sources of critical issues and solutions for making improvements.

Why should we conduct employee focus groups?

Employee focus groups are an easy and efficient way to uncover ideas for improving employee engagement. Often the employee survey itself simply uncovers weaknesses and strengths, but it doesn’t always point to action steps for improvements. This is the next part of the conversation and where employee focus groups can provide insight on how to improve employee engagement. Similar to surveying employees, conducting employee focus groups also communicates that employees’ feedback is valued.

Who participates in employee focus groups?

Your employees, of course! Ok, so it can be more complicated than that. Ideally, all of your employees should have the opportunity to participate. Each group should have no more than 10-12 employees to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to speak.

The best organizations encourage individual departments, teams, or locations to create their own employee engagement action plans and thus conduct their own employee focus groups. In addition, senior leaders can recruit for focus group participants to focus on specific topics for organization-wide action plans.

Hold a Focus Group

Uncover ideas for improving employee engagement by holding your own focus groups.

Who runs an employee focus group?

The focus group moderator is a critical role, and those taking it on should be well trained on how to run the group and handle difficult situations (See our  focus group guide for help.) The moderator should be someone who the team respects and looks to as a leader, but not necessarily be the group’s manager. In fact, sometimes it’s valuable to exclude managers from their team’s focus group, so employees feel like they can speak more freely.

When should I conduct an employee focus group?

Timing is dependent on how quickly you receive access to your employee survey results. Ideally, within one to two months after your survey closes, your leadership team will have reviewed survey results, shared findings with employees, met to discuss next steps, and rolled out reports to individual teams. At this time, employee focus groups should begin. These aren’t one and done activities. Let the group drive itself, deciding if it needs to meet more than once and what its next steps are. A regular cadence of activity, such as focus groups, updates on progress, and pulse surveys will keep your organization on the path to improving employee engagement.

How do employee focus groups improve employee engagement?

On average, employees who report follow-up after a survey are six times more engaged than those who don’t experience follow-up. Simply following up, continuing the conversation, and asking employees’ input for next steps improves employee engagement. However, the big impact of employee focus groups comes from actually implementing the ideas generated by your employees.

When leaders come to employees and foster open and honest communication about their workplace, great things can happen. Some of our best ideas for improving employee engagement at Quantum Workplace have come through these employee focus groups. Simply being included in these conversations makes us feel like valued contributors and owners in our company’s culture. As a result, we’ve seen real success and continual improvement in our employee engagement.

Download our focus group guide for help.