Engagement Surveys

Recognize Greatness!

Welcome back to another edition of Your Greatness Magnified. Work. Family. Life.

This week we are talking about a challenge that many of my clients are bringing to me lately, and that is their engagement survey results are not what they had hoped. So, what can you do about it?

Often times some of the things that we are measuring, such as trust in the organization, and satisfaction with senior leadership, are complex issues and it’s pretty challenging to put a plan in place. The other thing that I see is folks jump into a solution, or they form a big committee before they really understand the challenges. Finally, folks are trying to do so much; they’ve got so many initiatives; their heart’s in the right place, but it’s not sustainable.

Whether you’re just looking at the engagement survey results of your team, or the whole organization, it’s likely going to feel overwhelming. Where are your strengths? What is ONE strength you want to keep driving up and leveraging? Of all the engagement drivers that are low, what is the MOST important to boost? Which one will help pull others up? Which one, when you leverage the top strength, will help you pull up this lower rated variable?

A Case for Elevating Recognition as a Key Driver of Engagement

As you no doubt know, I’m a recognition expert. Why? It’s the single easiest, most cost effective and efficient engagement driver that impacts almost every other driver.

Most engagement survey results have low satisfaction with recognition (tune into a series of future VLOGs to explain why that is). When organizations or teams focus on boosting recognition, amazing things happen. It also pulls up harder to impact drivers including trust, satisfaction with leadership, intention to stay, and continuous improvement (learn more about this data here).

So how do you get started? If your recognition scores are low in your engagement survey, and you are feeling the personal or external pressure to meaningfully turn that around, what is your most important next step?


You may not have wanted to hear that.

However, creating a plan without all the information will no doubt lead to rework, continued low scores and frustration.

A recognition audit (some prefer the term, ‘needs assessment’) can chart a course for long-term success.  Every minute and resource you put into it will produce sustainable dividends. Here are the five crucial steps in conducting a good audit.

Step 1: Study the Relevant Related Data

The very first step is to understand the related data that points to where and why the problem exists. What are your clients saying? What are other indicators from employees, such as safety, injuries, and sick time? Are you seeing, in fact, other evidence that there are challenges within teams, or within your whole organization, where some of your results are low? You already have data in your organization that could have told you, without an engagement survey, that you had a problem with people feeling valued. They communicate it in a host of ways. Not only does this step provide clarity and focus, it also enables you to have baseline measurement data to assess the success of whatever strategies or interventions you deploy.

Please don’t take any further resources (time, money, people) before you have clarity and baseline measures!

Step 2: Observe

The next step is to go out and observe. In continuous improvement circles, they say an essential step in any project is to “go and see”. We cannot make meaningful improvements to engagement sitting in our office or a meeting room.

What do you see looking at the staff room, on the posters on the wall, in the front entrance that clients and suppliers see? Are there indicators that people are recognizing and are able to demonstrate their value? How are people contributing to and improving performance, metrics, and culture? How does the environment communicate: you matter, your ideas matter, you are needed? Can’t find any? Hum…

Step 3: Talk to People

In addition to the observation, we need to speak with people. I did an engagement survey/audit for a hospital recently. I observed nurses wearing different pins. So I asked them, “what do your pins mean?” Some knew where they came from and why they got them, others didn’t.  To them it didn’t matter. They were incredibly proud of simply having them (some had lanyards so loaded down I worried about neck strain!)

You may ask:

  • How do you demonstrate you value a colleague’s contributions? How do they demonstrate it toward you?
  • When was the last time you had a suggestion, or an opinion, and how did that go? Did you feel your opinion was valued? Why and why not?
  • What frustrates you around here? What motivates you?
  • If you had to describe the culture to a new employee, what words would you use?

This is just the tip of the iceberg. And of course, the questions need to fit your culture.

Those conversations, and really understanding what’s behind the answers you receive, allows you to understand just how engaged people are on a day-to-day basis. Once you have that information, it gives you a much broader perspective on what it is you need to focus on, and where.

Step 4: Explore What’s Different Between Groups

What is different between the most satisfied groups and the least? What is different (based on your observations and conversations) in environment, traditions, opinions, experiences, assumptions, daily rituals, etc.? What is working, even a little, that groups could do more of? What roadblocks could be removed, support could be offered (e.g., brief team coaching on how to give feedback), strategies could be shared to drive engagement up? Why is it not worse?

I get this takes time. But it’s worth it.

And sometimes external support can help. I work with small not-for-profits to large multi-nationals in their needs assessments to come up with a solid plan recognition strategy based on their culture – what’s working and improving on what’s not – to boost engagement expeditiously and sustainably.

To help you determine what your next step is – whether that’s on your own or you’re exploring the possibility of working with someone external – why not jump into my calendar? I want to help you. My end goal is that every workplace will be a great place to work where folks know they’re valued. However that happens, I want to help.

Tune into some great upcoming VLOGs that continue to dive into the current state of engagement in North America. You can subscribe to My YouTube Channel or follow my weekly VLOGs. I also have plenty of free resources for you to help boost engagement that’s free to you anytime here.

Be well, and be great.

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

Judy Kucharuk

Director, Marketing and Special Events, Encana Events Centre

"Funny, full of energy and incredibly motivating – all words to use when describing Sarah and her passionate stage presence. We were fortunate to have Sarah join us as a speaker for Spark Women’s Leadership Conferences and her presentations about leveraging greatness hit the core of our objective at SPARK: “A rising tide lifts all boats”. I would not hesitate to recommend Sarah to other organizations that are searching for a well-prepared, well-organized, thoughtful and passionate storyteller."
Shelley VanVeen

Learning & Development Manager, Libro Credit Union

"Sarah brought so much energy and enthusiasm to our International Women’s Day event at Libro! Her message was uplifting, thought-provoking and truly appreciated by our team. Dealing with Sarah was wonderful – she was open, professional and willing to work with us to customize her message to incorporate our culture and connect to our topic and participants. During the session, she was a pro with a powerful message and a fantastic delivery. We had wonderful feedback from all that attended and can’t wait to have Sarah back for another session in the future!"
Sylvia D’Intino

Executive Director, Community Living Hamilton

"THANK YOU so very much for leading the engagement activities today! You’re a constant professional, with an amazing attitude and always seeing the great in everyone. I am grateful for how you have helped us this year to transform our in-person staff recognition events into virtual and on-location events. Our staff feel more inspired, appreciated and motivated after they hear you speak, and I know our amazing in-house team here looks forward to designing engaging appreciation events with your support."
Melissa Chaulk

Manager of Professional Development

Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

"We work hard at CDHA to give our members a wonderful conference experience, so we were thrilled to have received resoundingly positive feedback on Sarah's opening plenary keynote. It was the highest attended of the entire conference for both dates!"
Jamie Campbell

Director, The Center for People in Organizational Development, Sheridan College

"Smart, challenging, innovative, committed, dependable, and reliable, I highly recommend her for all your recognition needs. I have brought Sarah into my last two organizations to help build a culture of recognition and celebration. The focus on appreciation is more important now than ever."

Some of the Great Organizations We Serve