Develop an Action Plan

By this point, you have shared your results with the team and have given them a few days to consider the results. To create an action plan, you must understand what is and is not working when it comes to engaging your employees. This means digging into the survey results to uncover your team's strengths and weaknesses and identify areas for improvement. This is an activity that must involve the entire team if possible.

If you manage an area where it's not possible to bring everyone together at the same time, find ways to share thoughts across the different meetings; you might have the team share additional feedback using the huddle board or a bulletin board, for example.

A few days after you meet with the team to communicate the survey results, they will have had time to think about the information and are ready to consider the next steps.

Do You Need Additional Information?

There is no added value in an extensive analysis of why respondents answered a question in a given way. Striving for more information may make employees feel pressured to forego confidentiality in order to answer your probing questions. It is more productive to simply focus on creating solutions.

Establishing Priorities

When developing employee engagement action plans, it is important to focus on a few important areas, rather than attempt to tackle everything at once. It is strongly recommended that your local action plan address no more than 1 or 2 focus areas.

You should decide on a tentative shortlist of priorities prior to meeting with your team that you can share once you have reviewed the results with them and are outlining next steps.

  • Step 1: Review your key driver analysis. It will identify which issues have the biggest impact on how your employees feel about the organization (Organizational Engagement), as well as what is most important for inspiring and energizing them in their work (Team Engagement).

  • Step 2: Once you identify the key drivers of engagement, look to see whether these issues have been improving or declining since the last survey and whether your employees are more or less favourable than the organization as a whole.

  • Step 3: Formulate a tentative list of priority issues for action. This does not need to be the actual actions that might be taken. Rather, it is a list of the topics or issues that need to be addressed with some action. The most logical topic choices are key drivers that are declining, scored low compared to the benchmark and/or scored low compared to the rest of the organization.

  • Step 4: Ask your team what they believe should be on the shortlist of priorities for action. If they seem unsure or do not speak up, share your tentative list and ask for their reactions and thoughts as to whether they agree with your list.

Your team members will establish what they believe to be the areas of greatest strength for the team, and what they consider the most important areas of concern. You will want to build on the former and improve the latter - addressing both can help maintain motivation. A sole focus on areas of concern can lead to a consistently negative point of view.

Questions to Consider – Strength Areas

For areas of strength, ask the question, “What is the source of our strength and how can we draw more deeply from this source?” Consider factors such as:

  • Motivated people

  • Continual improvement culture

  • Learning organization

  • Open, trusting culture

  • Strong supervisor-employee relationships

  • Clear performance expectations

  • Strong knowledge and skills

  • Good project management

  • Service orientation

  • Strong sense of mission

  • Employee empowerment

  • There are clear consequences for positive and negative behaviors

  • Peer pressure for high performance

Questions to Consider – Areas of Concern

For an area of concern, ask the question, “What is the source of our lower scores in this area?” The team may wish to consider factors such as these:

  • Inadequate knowledge or skills

  • Inadequate authority

  • Lack of information

  • Inadequate or outdated equipment or other resources

  • Insufficient staff

  • Poor workflow

  • Lack of time

  • Inadequate funds

  • Conflicting demands

  • Organizational constraints

  • Rewarding not doing it

  • Punishing to do it

  • Doesn’t matter much if we do it

  • We don’t care enough about it

Based on the discussion, have the team as a whole select what they consider to be the most important factors. Keep in mind what is within your control and what is not and focus primarily on what is. It is important to pass relevant information on issues outside your control to your supervisor, but your action plan needs to focus on what you and your team are able to do.

With the most important factors identified, have the team brainstorm potential solutions and decide upon the solutions to be pursued.

Action Planning

To create the action plan, divide the selected solutions into discrete, concrete steps. The action steps should include tasks that will surmount any identified potential barriers to implementation. List the action steps in the sequence in which they will occur. The Action Plan Template, located in the More on Action Planning section, includes a notional example of what this might look like.

Once action planning is begun, remember that the most effective action plans are clear, specific and linked to your program priorities and objectives.

Think Small and Meaningful

When you develop the action steps, think in terms of how you can create opportunities for small but meaningful accomplishments that will add up to important changes. If the team can immediately “fix” small things, employees will feel that the time spent responding to the survey was worthwhile and their input is valued.

As small achievements accumulate, employees see that positive change is indeed possible and can visualize more positive differences in the future. Success generates more success and creates an optimistic mindset open to more change. With positive momentum, champions and supporters emerge.


Consider the resources needed to accomplish each step. The resources may include time, people, materials, tools, training, authority, or information.

Due Dates

Set a due date for each action step. Make it realistic but aggressive.


Assign accountability to one or more individuals for the completion of each action step, while involving all team members as much as possible.

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