How to Interpret Your Engagement Survey Results

This guide is intended to help Admin users interpret their Engagement Survey data.

Part I: Understand your High-Level Results

Step 1: Review your Response Rate

  • What is a good response rate?
  • If your organization’s response rate is Average or Above Average, that’s great! Your employees want their feedback to be heard. 
  • If your organization’s response rate is Below Average or has declined since your last engagement survey, the most important thing you can do is make sure employees see how their feedback is being used to make your organization better. This can inspire more employees to participate in the future.
  • The best thing you can do to sustain a high response rate or improve a low response rate is to make it clear to your employees that the survey causes real change by taking action on your survey results and communicating your actions organization-wide. 

Step 2: Evaluate Favorability

Understanding favorability gives you a high-level view into your organization's engagement.

Overall favorability is the combination of responses that are either Strongly Agree or Agree across all of the survey questions asked. Overall favorability gives you a high-level view of the health of your organization’s engagement.

  • Why do we focus on favorability? 
  • We consider an overall favorability of 70% or higher to be healthy.
  • Whether your goal is to sustain or improve your favorability, the best thing you can do is to focus your efforts on your organization's high-impact items/ drivers of engagement.

FAQ: What is a reasonable goal for improving our overall favorability over the course of a year? 

A: Our formula for identifying a goal for year-over-year improvement is to shoot for 10% of your gap from a perfect score. For example, if your overall favorability is 60%, your gap from a perfect score is 40%. We'd therefore recommend targeting a 4% increase in favorability for next year's scores. 

Step 3: Understand your organization's high-impact items

These survey questions are your organization’s custom recipe for improving engagement: they have the biggest impact on your organization's engagement levels. We recommend focusing your efforts to improve engagement here.

The terms key drivers of engagement and high-impact items are both used throughout this page interchangeably. Depending on the survey, you will see one of the two options. Please note: they are identical in meaning and in how they are calculated.

  • What are the drivers of engagement/high-impact items?
  •  As you look across the high-impact items, do you notice any themes? For instance, do several of them relate to confidence in the future of the organization (like trusting in senior leaders' understanding of the organization’s plans for future success)? Or feeling valued (believing you’ll be recognized or feeling your opinions count)? Often, your organization’s high-impact items can be summarized in a few key themes.
  • Which high-impact items are most favorable? Which improved in favorability since the last survey? Keep the momentum going on these high-impact items. 
  • Which high-impact items are least favorable or decreased in favorability since the last survey? These may benefit from team-level or organizational-wide efforts to improve.

Part II: Level up your Analysis

Step 4: Compare this year's results to your last survey (if applicable).

  • By adding a comparison to your last survey, you can easily see how responses have changed since your last survey.
  • Do the survey questions that improved in favorability align with your employee engagement efforts after the last survey? For the survey questions that declined in favorability, can you think of any organizational changes or challenges that would have negatively impacted employee perceptions? Beyond your own ideas about why employee perceptions became more or less favorable since the last survey, verify these by reading employee comments and further listening to your employees in post-survey conversations.
  • As a rule of thumb, we consider a 2-3% increase in favorability to be meaningful for organizations with 250 employees or more. For organizations with fewer than 250 employees, a 3-5% gain in favorability is strong. 


Step 5: Understand how your feedback compares to other organizations.

You have the ability to compare your employee feedback to external benchmarks. If your employee feedback on a particular survey question is more favorable than the benchmark, you have a strength that many organizations do not. If your employee feedback on a survey question is at or close to the benchmark, your employee’s perceptions are similar to those in other organizations. If your employee feedback on a survey question is below average, this suggests your organization has a challenge that many other organizations do not.

Read more on how best to use external benchmarks.

What is the difference between Engagement and BPTW benchmarks? 

Step 6: Examine group-level differences inside your organization.

By applying a slice, you can compare different demographics within your organization. This can help you understand whether employee perceptions are similar across groups or not. You may find some groups are very favorable (learn their best practices and share them with other teams inside your organization) or lagging behind others (understand their challenges to get them better set up for success). Applying a filter can give you a targeted view to deeply understand a particular demographic or combination of demographics.

Curious what trends are common? 

Step 7: Review open-ended comments to gather context.

Open-ended survey questions give employees an opportunity to share examples and context. These comments can help you better understand the numeric data trends. However, employee comments can sometimes be distracting. Learn how we recommend approaching open-ended comments.

Guidelines for handling open-ended comments

Guidelines for handling negative comments