WorkTango’s Employee Engagement Survey Methodology

WorkTango’s Employee Engagement Survey Methodology

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WorkTango’s Surveys & Insights Employee Engagement Survey methodology focuses on helping companies gain insight on employee engagement and factors that create workplaces where employees can succeed.  There has been extensive academic research over the last few decades that has shown the evidence of employee engagement’s impact on positive workplace metrics, business outcomes, and several other key performance indicators (here’s one example).

The WorkTango team, comprised of I/O Psychologists, Organizational Design Professionals, and Data Scientists developed this methodology using a combination of statistical analysis to validate measurement of employee engagement coupled with expertise around the theory and practice around what impacts employee engagement in organizations. This methodology combined with our robust technology helps organizations measure and understand employee engagement to improve their overall employee experience and business performance.

The Employee Engagement Survey Model

Employee engagement is the sentiment that employees have for their jobs, organization, people leaders and co-workers that drives them to strive to do their best work and ensure the organization succeeds.

The WorkTango Employee Engagement Model has three major components towards helping organizations measure and understand how to positively impact employee engagement:

  1. Engagement Index:  a collection of questions to measure the attitudes and behaviors which define engaged employees.
  2. Engagement Factors:  indices to support an understanding of the major factors that contribute to employee engagement.
  3. Employee Voice: WorkTango also uniquely layers in Natural Language Understanding to support understanding employee sentiment through our Employee Voice Index – supporting a deeper understanding of employee engagement through employee comments.

1. Engagement Index

Measuring employee engagement offers insight into the state of mind employees at a particular time. The focus of the Engagement Index is to understand overall employee sentiment, which is separate from asking questions to understand what influences employee engagement.WorkTango views employee engagement from the perspective of behaviors and attitudes. There are distinct differences between the behaviors and attitudes of employees versus the positive outcomes of those behaviors.

  • Behaviors – the way in which one acts or conducts oneself.
  • Attitudes – the underlying sensation, beliefs and values that can impact behaviors and decision making

The Engagement Index looks to unfold the pride and commitment an employee feels for their role and organization that results in positive outcomes.Given the complexity of measuring Employee Engagement, the WorkTango approach uses multiple statements (forming an index) to ensure accuracy.  The Engagement Index focuses on four key components:

Behavior Measures:

  • PROMOTERthe concept of promoting something is defined by helping something flourish and publicizing someone’s satisfaction. Measuring whether an employee would recommend the organization as a place to work focuses on an action-oriented behavior of whether they are satisfied with their work experience and willing to promote it.

Statement: I would recommend this organization as a great place to work.

  • INSPIRATION: inspiration involves admiration for something and a process of being stimulated to do something. Understanding an employee’s inspiration and motivation to go above and beyond at work supports an understanding of employee behaviors focused in a positive direction to support the organization.

Statement: My organization inspires me to give my very best at work.

Attitude Measures:

  • PRIDE: pride is the feeling of pleasure and satisfaction to something that a person feels closely connected with. Measuring an employee’s attitude towards their satisfaction and connection to an organization is an important factor in the current state of an employee’s engagement.

Statement: I am proud to work for our organization.

  • LOYALTY:  loyalty is a feeling of support or duty towards something. This measurement focuses on the attitude around a desire for the employee to be part of the organization moving forward.

Statement: I intend to be working at this organization a year from now.

2. Engagement Factors

Engagement Factors are the key elements of the workplace that support building an environment of engaged employees. The WorkTango Engagement Drivers enable organization to understand what influences employee engagement and diagnose potential causes of disengagement.

WorkTango’s Engagement Model identifies 13 major factors that impact employee engagement. Similar to the Engagement Index, each factor is measured through multiple statements to form an index. For every employee, each factor will have a unique impact on that employee’s engagement level based on their personal values.

Given the varying frequency that organizations check-in with employees, WorkTango offers a comprehensive 60-question model, as well as a lighter 20-question model that focuses on key questions.  WorkTango’s Engagement Drivers are indicated below:

The model also asks additional questions that help measure whether employees feel that something will change as a result of these surveys.  These include questions around whether employees feel that action was taken from a previous survey, or if they believe action will be taken.

Below is an example of our short 20-question recommendation:

3. Employee Voice

To add color to the Engagement Index and Engagement Factors measurement, WorkTango’s Methodology includes open-ended questions to further understand employee sentiment and provide context to support action.

Employee comments are an important part of a holistic Employee Engagement methodology.  There are two types of employee voice:

  1. Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction – quantitatively measuring whether employees are satisfied or not based on the statements in the survey
  2. Participative Management – the reasoning and context towards levels of satisfaction and recommended actions by an employee

By offering insights on both types of employee voice above, WorkTango is able to offer a richer understanding of employee engagement. WorkTango can offer access to verbatim comments if desired, but also offers themes and sentiments of open-ended comments making it easier to absorb insight using Natural Language Processing technology and Machine Learning capabilities.  Other optional technology also offers the ability to anonymously acknowledge or respond to comments as well to add more value to the experience.

WorkTango’s recommended survey methodology is what a majority of customers leverage, however, there are other considerations:



Whether companies use the short (20-question) or long (60-question) model as a baseline to measure employee engagement, WorkTango recommends conducting shorter surveys more frequently to see trends, to understand the impact of actions focused on improving engagement have had, and to provide more data points around engagement throughout the employee life cycle and experience.  Higher frequency creates more accountability for action, improves the accuracy of the engagement measure, and enables more real-time insight about the employee experience.



WorkTango understands that not every question is applicable to every workplace.  All questions in WorkTango can be modified.  Although there are BEST practices, we help you focus on the RIGHT practices. For example, use the language that you use by using your company name or refer to managers as you address them in your business (i.e. people leaders or supervisors).   We offer the ability for companies to eliminate questions or add questions that support the insights you need at that moment in time.


Bringing it all together

The survey experience is only one part of the equation in the complete WorkTango methodology.  Above and beyond development of the survey model, the methodology includes an end-to-end view of research around developing the model to recommending and measuring the actions that impact important business outcomes.

  1. Approach – leveraging expertise in organizational development and statistical analysis to support the right method to hearing the voice of employees for customers
  2. Measurement – offering the ability to understand real-time insights from employees served to anyone within the organization and leverage data to predict the most impactful behaviors
  3. Organizational Impact – leverage correlative analysis, expert advisory services, and technology to focus on the right actions that will impact employee engagement and other critical business objectives.

4. The Science Behind It All

WorkTango’s methodology is rooted in third-party academic research, statistical analysis of proprietary data sets, and research techniques by survey methodologists.

The combination of academic research on the outcomes of Employee Engagement, with the psychological conditions exhibited through

The WorkTango Engagement Index and Engagement Factor questions have been statistically validated as the most critical questions to ask based on number of techniques which include regression analyses and factorial analyses.


Factor Analysis

Concepts like engagement and job satisfaction are abstract and multi-faceted (i.e. there are different aspects of the idea). Consequently, it is rare to measure them with one single question. Engagement surveys use many questions in order to capture all aspects of the overall idea (e.g. engagement). When there are many questions in the survey, what is being measured by each single question tends to overlap. If the few questions that measure a similar idea are grouped together, the average score from these questions will be a more accurate index for that underlying idea than any individual question.

Factor analysis is used to show, in a survey with many questions, from the perspective of survey respondents, which questions are measuring the same underlying idea. This can be achieved by essentially analyzing how responses to different questions co-vary (i.e. if respondents answer question 1 and question 2 in the same way such that scoring high on question 1 means also scoring high on question 2, these two questions have a high co-variance, thus they are likely measuring the same thing in the minds of respondents). The results of factor analysis help us to figure out which questions are actually measuring similar ideas, so we can group the responses in the most meaningful way and eliminate questions that are repetitive or irrelevant to make the survey more concise without sacrificing accuracy.

The results of factor analysis show the number of “factors” (i.e. big ideas) that can be reliably measured from the current survey, as well as the questions that jointly measure each idea. It also shows how closely each question measures the big idea. Questions that have a high loading (e.g. 0.8) more closely measure the big idea than questions with a low loading (e.g. 0.4).


Multiple Regression

After a few “big concepts” have been identified by factor analysis, multiple regression can help us to determine how much each big idea contributes to the key index of interest – Engagement, and as well as the relative weight each big idea has on the final index of interest.

The results of multiple regression show us, in “percentage of unique variance explained”, how much each question/factor uniquely contributes to the Engagement. Typically, each question/factor should contribute somewhere between 4% to 25% of the final index, with larger number indicating more contribution.

Results from multiple regression should be valid when all assumptions of regression are met. These include:

  • Linearity: each predictor should be linearly related to the outcome variable, which can be checked by looking at the scatterplots.
  • Multivariate normality: the residuals of the outcome variable should be normally distributed, which is usually not a big problem with large sample size.
  • No multicollinearity: the predictors are not highly correlated with each other (this is where factor analysis is SUPER important, because by default, a factor analysis creates factors that are as distinct from each other as the data would allow), which can be checked by looking at Variance Inflation Factor values.
  • Homoscedasticity (a.k.a. homogeneity of variance): the variance of error is similar across the values of the predictors, which can be checked by plotting standardized residuals against standardized predicted values.

The WorkTango Active Listening Model

The Workplace is changing, that’s no surprise. But with it, the solutions we use to recruit, retain, and inspire our talent is also changing.

Just look at the evolution of reward and recognition strategies as an example. While employers used to reward employees every five years for long-service awards, rewards and recognition in organizations focus more on monthly, weekly, or daily timeframes and specific value-sets and behaviors to inspire employees. This positive progression in recognition and reward systems has resulted in greater employee fulfillment and engagement at work.

A similar evolution is happening with the concept of Employee Voice.

The Evolution of Employee Voice

There has been a shift in how companies have approached acquiring real anonymous employee feedback.


Annual Surveys

For the past 100-years (starting as attitude surveys during the World War) companies have used an annual engagement survey as the predominant method of acquiring feedback. The issues with annual engagement surveys are clear: not being frequent enough for how quickly our organizations move, how cumbersome they are for employees, and the lack of accountability to change behaviors as feedback isn’t checked again for 365-days.

While the Annual Survey method was the first progression in the evolution of employee voice, companies are changing or supplementing this outdated method. As illustrated below in some of Gartner’s research, the annual survey is declining in popularity and being replaced or supplemented with other methods.

Pulse Surveys

The trend over the last decade has been the introduction of Pulse Surveys which are shorter, more focused groups of survey questions that can be sent out on a frequent basis. This flexibility means that the Pulse can potentially be an incredibly effective tool that allows companies to consistently connect with employees to better understand sentiment in the workplace, and therefore take more effective measures to focus on improving engagement and the employee experience.

As an employee, receiving an employee pulse is much more comprehensive than a vague annual survey, however, there is still room to improve. One problem is that the employee pulse can be repetitive and impersonal, with the same questions every time. This can cause employees to feel like it’s a process on autopilot and leave them wondering if leadership is actually listening.


Active Listening

The most recent shift in not only measuring engagement but influencing actions and behavior change is Active Listening.  Similar to Pulse Surveys, this offers frequent insight into employee engagement but also supports the ability to change questions, diagnose issues, as well as see the impact of actions in more real-time.  The results are higher accountability for leadership to act by ensuring employee sentiment is being measured more frequently (and not having a ‘moment-in-time’ view that may be influenced by specific internal/external factors).

Aside from the quality of insights being higher for leaders, the employee experience is dramatically improved.  It is a shift of redundant questions around measuring employee engagement to actively providing feedback to influence their overall experience.

Depending on the organization, WorkTango recommends more frequent surveys based on our Active Listening Model which helps organizations understand their people and culture on an ongoing basis and get insights in real-time enabling a more proactive approach to people and culture practices. The model entails frequent follow-ups that not only dig deeper into weak areas but also ask questions on how major changes in the business are impacting employees.

Regardless of the cadence (some companies conduct these weekly, others quarterly), there is flexibility in the number of questions that can be asked to maintain a simple employee experience. Considerations around managing actions as a result of Active Listening and offering these insights in real-time to leaders to add accountability to this process are all decisions to be made when launching the Active Listening Model.