Why “making the list” should not be your #1 priority.
Reasons why you should not take an employee engagement survey for the sole purpose of being “named to the list”.

“What is the criteria for making the list?”
“How many companies will be named?”
“We aren’t ready to participate this year because we just went through a period of layoffs and would not receive positive responses.”
“It will really hurt our morale if we participate and do not make the list.”
“We are going to wait until we see if we made the list before we decide to purchase the report.”

These are some of the most common questions and comments I hear as a program coordinator on a daily basis. Being a Best Place to Work is an outstanding accomplishment for any organization; one that should not go unnoticed. The question I would like to pose is, “Are you putting too much focus on the ranking and disregarding the most important reason for taking an Employee Engagement Survey – the actionable data?”

Making the list in your state, region, or industry is a great goal to have. To make the list, you must first meet or exceed the minimum response rate required on the employee survey in order for your data to be looked at. Your overall score is a combination of the employee survey (worth 75%) and the Employer Questionnaire (worth 25%). We look for at least an 80% positive response from employees and alignment across the 8 core focus areas on the employee survey. An organization may exceed the minimum response rate and the 80% of positive responses. criteria and still not make the list because we are limited to naming a specific number of winners in each program and the competition varies from year to year. All of this means you can be a great company, but still not be ranked.

But how do organizations get to this point? How do you become a company that is one of the Best Places to Work on a yearly basis without stressing about making the list?

The answer is not by bombarding your employees with multiple engagement surveys every year and hoping the employees start to answer in a positive way. Organizations reach this point by taking action on the data from their feedback reports- looking at both the positives AND negatives.

The truth hurts…but can also help. I want to touch on one of the comments from above – “We are going to wait until we see if we made the list until we decide to purchase the report.” You should not be purchasing the reports based on whether or not there is positive feedback. We all want to hear positive feedback with anything we do at work, in our daily lives, etc. The truth is, most of the time, the negative comments and feedback can be the most helpful to an organization’s future success.

Choosing to address the negative feedback found in your reports can have an adverse effect on how your employees view engagement surveys. If an organization takes a few surveys throughout the year and there is a common negative theme that employees have expressed, you must take action on it. Determine the root of that problem and tackle it head-on. If employees feel like nothing is being done to rectify their concerns, and their voices are not being heard, two things may happen. First (and most obviously), they are going to continue to provide the same, poor feedback. Second, they will begin choosing not to participate at all, because honestly, why should they waste their time if nothing is being done with the information that they are responding with. The only way that your employees will feel like these surveys are actually meaningful is if you take action on the data. You must show them the main goal is to improve their work environment and not only used to make your organization look better to both the public and new hires. The reports we offer provide actionable data for you to determine what is, and what is not working. Everyone can take something away from an engagement survey. Even organizations ranking number 1 on the list learn from their reports.

The key to getting the most valuable data is by stressing to your employees that you are looking for honesty. Whether you convey this verbally or through email communication prior to the surveys going out is your choice. By making it known that the organization truly values employee opinions is crucial to receiving the most truthful feedback. You do not want employees to feel like they are threatened to complete the survey or answer the questions in a positive way. This is the reason we stress that the survey is optional.

Let me give you an example- Which of these two companies do you think will become a better place to work in the long term?
1. The survey coordinator and President tell all employees that they must take the survey. They say, “Make sure you answer positively. Remember, raises are right around the corner”.


2. The survey coordinator and President tell all employees that the survey is optional. They tell employees, “We value your honest opinions as it will help us make positive changes in the future”.
Although company 1 has violated the program rules, they may receive a higher percentage of positive responses. Company 2 may get less of a positive response rate, but with honest feedback, they are going to be receiving data that is both truthful and actionable. Even if they do not make the list, they will have a better idea of what is going to make their employees enjoy coming to work every day, which is what these surveys are all about.

I encourage you to continue to have fun with both the surveys and the celebration that comes with it if you are fortunate enough to make one of our lists. They are a great way to honor the success of your organization. Always strive to be number one on the list. Just keep in mind that if “making the list” is your one and only priority; you may be missing the bigger picture and an opportunity to take your organization to another level of greatness.


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