How employee surveys improve our employee engagement

These days, there are lots of opinions about employee engagement and tools or surveys used to measure it. A wide range is offered, all using different insights. Annual surveys, leadership surveys, wellbeing surveys, pulse surveys, working with the Net Promotor Score… But what works and what does not?

In our opinion there are some factors to keep in mind when determining what durable system of surveys you want to build. We use the word durable, because when you take a deeper look into your organization, a single tool might not be enough.

We believe that you have to develop a long-term measuring strategy, put people at the center and start building from there.

When you survey your company, you’re able to quickly identify, how your employees are feeling about different aspects, what they like and what they want to see improved. Especially in these times, it’s important to learn from that feedback and improve employee sentiment.

This is how we approach the challenge at Design is Dead:


What system fits which type of organization depends a lot on the organization itself. What is the size, the growth stage of the organization, how is it organized? How do people connect, and how do you nurture these connections?

Our company, like most digital companies, has a fast-moving pace. The organization itself, as well as our employees, must keep up with continuous change.

Mostly working in distributed and remote teams means that we need to put a continuous effort in to nurturing close connections with our employees.

Besides, because the organization is structured horizontally, we are no fans of formal interactions, but more concerned with warm and durable relationships. Through our agile way of working, we have a connection with our employees that places feedback at the center. Giving and receiving feedback, even when at times this is a hard job to do, is in our DNA. Agile principles in fact, boost employee engagement.

To keep up the pace, we found it was necessary to be able to work with real-time actionable data, that’s what we sell to our customers, so we want to set the example.

To this end, we use Heartcount, a pulse survey that gives us information on the current state of mind of our employees. We are able to act upon and respond quickly to the feedback we receive on a weekly basis.


The second factor to reflect upon would be the culture of the company and the way in which you collaborate. How are your employees used to giving feedback? Have you built enough trust and are you able to respond in a human way when they formulate honest feedback?

You cannot have an Agile company without a bigger picture or a strategy. We believe in long-term. Ideas, opinions of yesterday will not stand the test of time. As necessary as it is to keep the pulse on today, you still need a plan to move beyond a certain point in time and cocreate your future.

To this end we still use an annual survey: to get input on our state of mind and use it to adapt in a lasting way.

The challenge in a longer survey is in finding a balance between content and timing. Everybody dreads long surveys and you have to take the time to explain what you want to measure and why. Giving full transparency about the outcome of course is another determining factor for success as well as working with the feedback received.


We believe in making the right choices. No leadership team can flourish without the other pieces of the puzzle. Our business is building and we believe every builder has great ideas to help us achieve great outcomes.

Throughout retrospectives, there is a constant reflection about what we did and how we did it.

Therefore, we also installed a recurrent leadership review as a stand-alone tool. We learn and adapt to make our way of working durable.


Employee surveys can help you build a sustainable company and create connections to do things together.

It is the job of HR to develop an engaging workplace culture by doing it and by helping others doing it, embracing the mindset of the organisation.

The key is to try and see what suits your company, then reflect and adapt.