Engaged mining employees can directly impact a mining operation’s productivity, efficiency, safety levels and bottom line. This makes measuring employee engagement important to help maintain a high level of involvement, as well as determine ways to improve it.

Given mining staff typically work at disparate locations, employee surveys often can be the only effective way to measure this. The trick is to ensure surveys are delivered in a fashion that reaches all employees and allows them to participate.

Surveys provide the opportunity to collect valuable employee feedback and let organisations make changes where necessary. If done right, it will help to optimise engagement and improve organisational performance.

To get the most out of an employee survey, the questions need to be framed in such a way that the employer will be able to use the responses to help measure factors like company pride, intention to stay, level of motivation to go above and beyond the call of duty and the likelihood of recommending the business to friends or family.

By following these seven key steps, mining operators can develop employee engagement surveys that will deliver true value.

1. Involve key leaders when developing the employee engagement program

Involving key leaders when developing your employee engagement program creates executive buy-in and enables leadership of the program from the top-down to demonstrate the programs significance, which will encourage employees to participate. Leaders should also be involved in establishing the question category priorities.

2. Develop an organisation-specific list of engagement drivers for surveys

Employee surveys should focus around a number of engagement category drivers, including autonomy and empowerment, career progression, collaboration, communication, company leadership, pay and benefits, quality of products and services as well as training and development.

Organisations need to ensure that the engagement categories used in surveys are relevant to their specific business. Don’t be afraid to remove categories that don’t seem relevant or create new categories such as satisfaction with safety procedures or shift patterns.

3. Define the questions

Once the customised engagement categories have been finalised, survey designers should create three to six questions per category.

The questions should measure different aspects of a theme (e.g. the company, the manager, the team, the environment, the individual etc.), so that each question offers a new piece of information.

Wherever possible, the survey should also define and consistently use the same scale. For example, the majority of the time, the question should be answered on a ‘strongly agree to strongly disagree’ scale or a ‘very good to very poor’ scale. This makes the results easier to measure and quantify.

4. Include necessary definitions

Not everybody understands certain titles and terms in the same way. It is important to make sure everyone is on the same page by including definitions at the beginning of the survey, or attached to individual questions, depending on the format.

5. Know how to reach employees

It is crucial to deliver the engagement survey in a relevant manner to encourage employee participation. This includes ensuring surveys are mobile-responsive and can be distributed via SMS or available at shared kiosks/tablet devices so employees can easily complete them while they are out in the field, rather than your traditional email surveys as not all employees have access to a corporate email account.

6. Determine how the data needs to be broken down for analysis

Organisation hierarchy and demographic data should be integrated into the employee engagement feedback platform so it can be broken down and delivered in managerial or departmental dashboards.

7. Action the employee feedback

Before starting an engagement survey, managers must understand the strategy and how to action the data. The most important part of collecting employee feedback?is to take action in an appropriate timeframe to show employees that the organisation has listened and values their input.

Once the employee engagement survey has been executed, the business needs to consider combining its annual employee engagement survey with ‘pulse surveys’. Pulse surveys let organisations dive deeper into a particular area of the mine operation or issue to identify if improvements are taking place.

Mining companies should consider an employee engagement and pulse survey platform like Qualtrics which is easy to use, yet sophisticated. Such platforms let organisations implement programs faster, and offer the ability to see the feedback in real-time. Mining companies that prioritise employee engagement can significantly improve productivity, efficiency and the business’s bottom line.