what does this question mean header
Marcie Hopkins, University of Utah Health
Beginner’s Guide to Employee Engagement Data
How do I share employee engagement feedback with my team? Chief Wellness Officer Amy Locke, Resiliency Center director Megan Call, Utah Health Academics HR leader Sarah Wilson, and Organizational Development Director Chris Fairbank explain when and how to talk with your team.

leaders in health care, we want to know how to make the experience better for patients and for our teams. In academics, we want to strengthen educational experiences and excel at research. In clinical operations, we want to provide quality care in a learning environment. To that end, we ask for feedback from our teams. 

The purpose of the Better U survey is to give leaders and teams actionable data to make U of U Health a better place to work. When we examine needs of our teams, we gain insight on how we can create environments conducive for engagement, well-being and improvement.  

This article provides answers to a few of the most common questions associated with our survey process.   

Is the data accurate? 

The first question we often hear is: Is the data accurate? Follow up questions include: Does it represent my whole team? How do parts of the group compare to others? Sometimes, when these answers aren’t clear, paralysis sets in. The data gets pushed to the back burner and nothing changes.  

It’s important to remember that these surveys will never be 100% accurate because we’re not measuring something as tangible as an individual’s height, weight, or blood pressure. We’re measuring our team culture, so the responses from the surveys aren’t “right or wrong.” Rather, they give us a jumping off point to think about the needs of our teams. What’s important is that we take the information we have and work to make improvements. 

What does a low score mean for my team?  

First, let’s acknowledge the obvious. You’re human, you work hard, and you care a lot about your team. When our survey results aren’t all positive, it’s hard not to take this feedback personally and that’s okay. Groups struggle for lots of reasons and the purpose of gathering data is to support teams, not punish individual leaders.   

It’s also important to remember that we are asking our people for feedback.  We can’t control whether that feedback will be positive or negative, but we can be confident that it’s always better to understand what our people are thinking. 

Though it may be difficult, when we are faced with negative feedback, we can apply a learning mindset and find potential “nuggets of truth” for learning and growth.  Some questions to consider: 

  • What can you take from the feedback?   
  • Is there something you can do differently as a leader?   
  • What can you delegate or ask for help with? 

Starting from a place of reflection and curiosity can help identify aspects of your leadership style that may have inadvertently led to breakdowns in communication and team connection. 

Is my group ready to have a conversation about how we are doing?  

There are many factors that can contribute to low survey scores. They can stem from things like interpersonal conflict, unclear roles and expectations, or low engagement with one or more members of the team. While addressing these can be tricky in the beginning, acknowledging concerns and working toward improvement can have a high impact on the well-being of individuals and the effectiveness of the team. 

Be aware of how you respond to your team when negative feedback arises. The impulse to “fix it” in health care is strong. Before heading into your group with, "You don't think I keep you informed?" or, "You don't think you can tell me your opinions?”, think about how you can discuss the issue in a way that invites openness.   

Leaders and team members are often in different places about how safe it is to share opinions or provide critical feedback, especially in front of one another. Psychological safety is present when people can share their ideas without fear of retribution. Psychological safety is essential for high functioning teams, and it is important to know how your team is doing in this realm before you decide how to talk about the data.   

There are a few survey questions that can shed some light on whether your team is ready to wade in: 

  • My input is sought, heard and considered. 
  • There is open and honest communication on my team.  
  • I am encouraged to come up with better ways of doing things.  
  • I can share my opinions openly without fear of retaliation.
  • I feel free to discuss work hazards and safety issues freely and openly. (Applicable for Hospital/Clinics Department of Nursing)
  • I can share my opinions openly without fear of retaliation. (Applicable for Hospital/Clinics Department of Nursing)

When you’re seeing a lower response in these questions, we recommend connecting with a facilitator to help you determine next steps.   

Facilitators who can help:  

A facilitator can help you explore what might be contributing to low scores and chart a path forward. Sometimes a facilitator can be the means by which you can hear feedback that you otherwise might not. They can also help ensure a process that allows people to feel comfortable speaking up. Listening involves open and honest discussion of what’s working and what isn’t. It has to be a no-blame, no-shame, any-idea-goes exercise. Shutting someone down, even once, can prevent important information from surfacing.   

When your team is feeling good:  For those with a high degree of psychological safety, we recommend leaders share the data with their teams, acknowledging what the data appears to say.   

With curiosity, ask questions like:   

  • Does this data match what we see day to day?   
  • Is this our reality?  What does this look like for us? 
  • What should we be doing as a group to address these concerns?   
  • Something we should be doing more of? Less of?   

If the feedback is focused on leadership issues, try saying something like “I’d really like to better understand this feedback. This may not be something we’re comfortable discussing as a team yet, so please reach out to me individually if you’re willing."  If your people are feeling psychologically safe, they likely will.   

Additionally, these questions can get the group moving towards improvement. You can also take a look at this list of questions to help identify what might be holding the team back.  

Where should I focus? 

The Better U survey will provide a lot of data that can potentially be overwhelming. Start by reviewing your dashboard. This should give you good sense of where your scores fall and how they compare to groups across the organization. The Better U pulse site has video walkthroughs and other helpful materials to help you navigate through questions you may have.   

The best place to start will be the “Outcomes.” These four areas is a snapshot of the health of a team.   

  1. Engagement
  2. Inclusion 
  3. Well-being 
  4. Burnout 

The next level of detail are the individual questions, or “Drivers.” “Drivers” help you understand what more actionable upstream factors might be impacting how a team is doing.  

Some questions to ask yourself: What do you notice about the feedback? What themes emerge? Is this in line with your daily experience with the group? 

The next step is to open a conversation with your team. Ask the questions mentioned above so that you and your team can better understand the issue, or start with the “Listen” phase of the Listen-Sort-Empower framework.  Let your team then help as you implement changes or strategies to make things better. Don’t take this all upon yourself. Your team has great ideas. 

How low is too low? When should I be worried?  

Survey data is commonly a moving target. You will see scores move up and down over time depending on current circumstances. If you see that scores on a particular outcome are regularly lower than other parts of the organization, and your efforts don’t seem to be moving the needle, then it would be worth talking to someone. A different perspective can often be helpful.   

If you would like help interpreting the data, reach out to the below contacts. These teams can walk you through how to get more from your data, and discuss additional options for making improvement. 

Originally published March 2022, updated November 2023 to reflect current processes.


Megan Call

Licensed psychologist, Director of the Resiliency Center, University of Utah Health

Amy Locke

Family Physician, Chief Wellness Officer and Executive Director, Resiliency Center, University of Utah Health

Chris Fairbank

Director, Organizational Development, University of Utah Health

Sarah Wilson

Senior HR Director, University of Utah Health

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