Advice for the good, motivating Employee Development Interview

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‘The Great Resignation’ is upon us – and more than 40% of all employees are currently considering quitting their jobs. Even if they don’t have a new one in sight. These are tough times for companies. Because a turnover costs a lot on any financial bottom line. So, what can you do?


Employee Development Interview – part of the great engagement work

The employee development interview is your planned and close conversation with your employees. According to Krifa, 85% of Danish companies hold annual employee development interviews. And it’s a good idea, as these conversations are an important part of the big, essential well-being work. Well-being and daily job satisfaction can change relatively quickly for the individual employee – Therefore hold the interview at least once a year to be sure that you keep up to date with the individual’s well-being, expectations and job satisfaction. Employee development interview is an important tool in the whole great well-being work. It cannot stand alone, because of course you also have to run workplace assessment and engagement surveys on an ongoing basis, but the employee development interview is definitely a crucial part.

Good advice – prepare well before the employee development interview

First of all, at we always recommend that at least one employee development be held per employee per year. Plan the interview well in advance – so that both you and your employee have a chance to prepare thoroughly. You can only give your employee these prerequisites by being clear about the framework for the interview. What are the expectations, what is the background and what is the purpose. Make sure you are clear about these premises to the employee, so that he/she has a real chance to prepare as best as possible.

Fixed or more free?

Some companies choose to run employee development interview according to a traditional and fixed schedule – and here it makes very good sense to have a specific employee development interview schedule that can be handed out to the individual employee beforehand, so that he/she can form a clear picture of what what must happen for the interview and how best to prepare. But others choose the more free approach, where the conversation is allowed to run more on its own and you haven’t really decided in advance which direction it should go.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both strategies – and it may make sense for you to make a qualitative assessment of what will be best for your specific company and your employees – and from there make a plan for how you will execute on MUS. Ask yourself the following questions before the interview:


  • What were you talking about last time?
  • What would YOU like to tackle this time?
  • What is the end goal of the conversation?


Both you and your employee must get something out of this conversation. It should not feel like a waste of time for either of you, but on the contrary, give both parties a sense of concrete value and a sincere insight into the individual employee’s well-being and further development. To ensure that the conversation leads to what you both want, a plan for the process is essential. A template for the process that is quite operational and efficient is the following:


  • Summons
  • Preparation
  • The employee development interview
  • Report and follow-up
  • Ongoing conversations/execution of specific plan


With this roadmap, it is particularly emphasized that the conversation should be taken seriously by both parties and that there is an overall plan for the entire process. Preparation and follow-up are two parameters which, to that extent, make the conversation more than just an ordinary conversation.


When the employee development interview is getting closer – Yes, it can be difficult to talk about personal well-being!

It can be extraordinarily difficult to talk about personal well-being when you are sitting and looking your manager in the eye. Here, your most important task as a manager is to create a safe and trusting space, where the employee must feel confident in being 100% honest – and not face any kind of condemnation. It is often necessary to give impetus to the conversation with a definite question frame. And to ensure the conversation’s topicality and relevance in relation to well-being and job satisfaction, the questions should move within the following seven factors; Opinion, colleagues, results, coping, balance, management and co-determination.


Which tasks are most meaningful to you?
Which are the least?
What do you need to experience more meaning in your daily work?


How are you with your colleagues?
How are you yourself as a colleague?
Do you have a best friend at work?


What achievements are you most proud of?
What results do you want to achieve in the future?
What is the easiest way to achieve them?

Which tasks are you most comfortable with?
Which ones are you best at?
Which ones do you feel least competent in?
What will it take for you to dress better for them?


Is there a balance between your work tasks and the resources you have access to?
Do you experience a good balance between work and private life?
What is needed to create a better balance?


When does your manager lead you best?
Is your manager clear during your working day?
Is there something you miss from your manager?
Can you describe the relationship with your manager?


Do you feel involved in your daily tasks?
In which areas would you like to have a say?
In which areas would you like to have even more say?


If you are touching these seven subjects, then you will come a long way. There should be a real possibility that you have been around the most important things for the employee – and that he/she has been heard and has had his/her wishes for development voiced out loud.


Note everything during the conversation – without losing presence.

And when the conversation draws to a close, go through what you have agreed on as concrete steps in the future development, so that you ensure alignment and execution of the employee’s personal wishes for development. Make a specific plan for the further development and set dates for the individual steps.


Learn about all the benefits of using Woba’s Employee Development Growth Solution >> LEARN MORE <<

Good advice – Employee development interview is over. What now?

The employee development interview is done. And both you and your employee should now have a good feeling in your stomach. A feeling that you have come closer to each other, understand each other and both take the upcoming development plan seriously. Right now it is incredibly important that you act on the results of the conversation immediately. You should now be sitting with a pile of good notes and a detailed, specific plan in front of you. Use them to create a clear overview – and write in the development plan what you expect to be achieved before the next employee development interview (which will probably be available in a year’s time). Write all agreements in the calendar and make sure to assign responsibility for the individual goal to the right person, so that you ensure that all agreements are met – within the agreed deadline.

From here it is ‘simply’ to follow the development plan and ensure that the employee’s wishes and goals are met and that the company does its part to ensure that the plan is followed and adhered to along the way.


Employee Development Interview is important, but daily dialogue is essential

Employee development interviews are a really useful and important tool in employee engagement. But something that is even more important is the daily friendliness and dialogue between management and employees. It is always important to look inward for a while and assess whether you, as a manager, have created this safe space, on which an open and present dialogue depends? It goes without saying that with an annual interview, situations and wishes will arise along the way which are important for the employee to say out loud and put into action if he/she is to feel seen and recognized.


Therefore, ask your employee to dance.

This means that you should create a safe space and confidentiality that makes your employee always feel safe to seek you out and ask you to listen to various issues or wishes for development. Show initiative and make it clear that you are always available for a present talk – whether it is a more serious one of this kind or just a much-needed ‘Walk&Talk’ on a gray Tuesday.

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Employee Engagement Surveys
Transform the Employee Engagement Survey into actionable insights

Employee engagement surveys are a critical HR tool, designed to unlock your organization’s potential. They gauge employee well-being, drive talent retention, boost productivity, and support continuous HR improvement.

Much like conducting scientific research, the journey of knowledge and business intelligence within the realm of human resources starts with simple questions. These questions can vary widely. They’re born from curiosity, assumptions, and a desire to understand the intricacies of your organization’s people. The key is to focus on what’s essential, practical, and relevant to your unique organization.


In this article, the specific type of question you aim to answer with robust evidence is not the primary focus. Instead, the emphasis lies on the approach and methods you employ to design and collect data for your employee engagement survey in the most effective manner possible.


From gut feelings to a data-driven approach in Employee Engagement Surveys

We will show you how to shift from relying on your gut feelings to using a more solid, scientific, and data-driven approach in your employee engagement surveys. This change will help you improve your HR-business intelligence, make decisions and recommendations based on real evidence, and implement effective programs and initiatives where they matter most – for both your people and the organization as a whole.


The success of your organization depends on your role as an HR architect, and we’re here to support you. So, get ready to learn more about creating and conducting a quantitative staff engagement survey.


What is an Employee Engagement Survey?

An employee engagement survey serves as a valuable tool for gauging the sentiments of your workforce concerning their overall work-life experience. These surveys, usually in the form of questionnaires, are tailored to capture employees’ thoughts, feedback, and perceptions related to their work environment and their overall experiences within the organization.

In HR, you’re tasked with answering essential questions, such as:

  • How engaged are our employees?
  • Are they more engaged than last year?
  • Does the level of engagement vary across employee segments?
  • What’s our turnover rate, and how can we reduce it?
  • To what extent do they feel included in the workplace, and how can we empower this sense of inclusion?
  • How do they perceive their current job resources?
  • Do we know enough about employees’ viewpoints when designing programs and initiatives to enhance their psychological safety?


The insights derived from these surveys are a treasure trove for HR professionals. They provide a deeper understanding of the workforce’s engagement levels and well-being, ultimately leading to a more motivated and productive team. These surveys play a vital role in ensuring that the organization can adapt to change and sustain a people-centric approach, where employee satisfaction and commitment are at the forefront of HR strategies.

To fully comprehend the importance of employee engagement in HR, we suggest you read our article Employee Engagement – Definition, Relevance & Strategy.


Designing your Employee Engagement Survey questions: Close-ended questions, open-ended questions or a mix of the two?

Creating a good employee engagement survey requires thorough preparation, and it’s always crucial to have a clear problem statement. When the survey is based on interviews or questionnaires, a well-defined problem statement serves as the foundation for subsequently formulating clear questions. But how do you formulate effective questions for a survey?

When conducting employee engagement surveys, one of the many decisions you have to make is the inclusion of different types of questions. In quantitative research designs, we typically have the option to design our research around:

  • Close-ended questions: offer respondents a limited set of predefined answer options, making them a common choice for surveys aiming to gather quantitative data.
  • Multiple choice questions: provide respondents with answer choices, such as age groups or preferences, where they select the most appropriate option.
  • Simple binary (e.g yes, no) questions: Can help ascertain binary responses, such as whether an individual received adequate training.
  • Ordinal scaled (e.g. likert scaled) questions and open-ended questions: gauge satisfaction levels on a scale, usually ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.”


Such structured questions are valuable in obtaining clear, structured data, facilitating analysis and comparison, and are often employed to assess demographics, preferences, attitudes, and behaviors.


Open-Ended Questions vs. Closed-Ended Questions in an Employee Engagement Survey

Open-ended questions in an employee engagement survey differ from their closed-ended counterparts as they invite respondents to provide detailed, free-text responses. These questions encourage respondents to share their thoughts, feelings, and suggestions in their own words.

For instance, an open-ended question might ask employees to describe their biggest challenges at work or provide suggestions for improving the workplace. These responses are valuable for uncovering nuanced insights, identifying unexpected issues, and gaining a deeper understanding of the employee experience. They offer context to the quantitative data gathered from closed-ended questions and help interpret the “why” behind the numbers, making them an essential part of a comprehensive employee engagement survey.


You need to consider whether it’s most appropriate to use closed-ended questions or open-ended questions in employee engagement surveys for several reasons:


Benefits of using close-ended questions:

  • Provide structured and quantifiable data. They are ideal for measuring specific aspects of employee engagement, such as satisfaction with company policies, benefits, or job tasks. This structured format allows for easy comparison and analysis.
  • Ensure consistency in the response format, making it easier to analyze the data and identify trends over time. This is important when conducting surveys at regular intervals to track changes in employee engagement.
    Are quicker for respondents to answer, making the survey process more efficient. This can lead to higher response rates and more complete data.
  • They use Likert scales, which are commonly used in employee engagement surveys. This allows for benchmarking against industry standards and other organizations.
  • Allow for more objective data analysis, as responses are standardized and do not rely on the subjective interpretation of open-ended responses.


Benefits of using open-ended questions:

  • Allow employees to provide detailed, nuanced feedback. This can uncover issues or suggestions that might not be captured with closed-ended questions.
  • Employees feel heard and valued when they can express their thoughts in their own words. This can boost their engagement and satisfaction with the survey process.
  • Can reveal unexpected issues or opportunities that you may not have anticipated. They can provide insight into the “why” behind quantitative data.
  • Offer better contextual understanding than closed-ended data. They help interpret the quantitative findings and provide a richer understanding of the employee experience.



Employee Engagement Blog
Employee Engagement - Definition, Relevance & Strategy

We explore the employee engagement framework, including what employee engagement is and how to measure and improve it effectively in your company.


What is Employee Engagement?

An employee engagement definition, in short, refers to the emotional commitment and level of enthusiasm that employees have toward their jobs and their organization. However, this might be an oversimplification. Employee engagement is a multifaceted concept that goes beyond initial impressions.

But, much like the transformation of a simple acorn into a sprawling oak tree, the concept of employee engagement has undergone a remarkable evolution since its early days in the 1990s. It has grown to become not only an academic discipline but a pivotal operational practice in the realm of organizational human resource management.


As it gained widespread recognition, the concept of employee engagement, akin to the branches of an oak, has taken on a multitude of diverse forms and shapes. However, there is a significant departure from the analogy of the oak tree. Unlike the tree’s natural evolution, the concept of employee engagement isn’t meant to outgrow its origins.

With the burgeoning popularity of this field, we witness an unintended consequence—an increase in inconsistency and confusion regarding the application of employee engagement as a means to study well-being within modern organizations.


The very essence of employee engagement becomes obscured in the midst of this transformation, leaving us to grapple with the challenge of aligning its core principles with its expanding interpretations. However, we don’t need a multitude of complex definitions or branches when it comes to employee engagement. What we truly need is clarity. We need to ensure that an evidence-based approach, rooted in decades of well-established research, is easily accessible. Furthermore, we need to bridge the gap between the scientific realm and the practical applications of employee engagement in HR.


This article aims to help you better understand some challenging questions:
What is employee engagement and how can we create a simple way to measure employee engagement effectively?


The Employee Engagement Framework

While simple answers to these intricate questions may remain elusive, our objective is to contribute to the ongoing effort to comprehend employee engagement. We aim to do this by retracing the concept to its origins and provide a systematic overview of how it has been operationalized by different scholars and researchers over the past decades. This, in turn, should pave the way for a more concise framework for proactively, strategically, and operationally addressing employee engagement as a means to nurture happier employees, more effective teams, and enhanced organizational outcomes.


We will delve into some of the most validated constructs and definitions of employee engagement that the academic research field has to offer. This is in pursuit of setting a benchmark by replicating sound, evidence-based approaches and standards from the world of science.

Once we’ve clarified the definitions and constructs, we’ll shift our focus to the practical dimension. Here, we’ll inspire you to implement measurement scales that effectively capture the various facets of employee work engagement while ensuring validity and reliability.

Finally, we’ll wrap it up with insights on how to cultivate and enhance engagement within your organization, enabling you to harness the myriad benefits of high employee engagement.


Why is a clear(er) definition of employee engagement important?

To effectively study and understand any phenomenon, we require clear and unified approaches to grasp that specific subject. In the realm of Human Resources (HR), a precise definition becomes crucial due to variations in understanding among different consultancy branches, HR departments, and top-level executives.

The confusion often arises from whether employee engagement equates to elements like job satisfaction, commitment, or motivation. And when it comes to satisfaction, employee engagement and satisfaction are evidently not the same psychological construct, so merging them in one measure can simply be counterproductive.

But this conceptual ambiguity not only introduces imprecision, but also leads to a view of criticism, with some dismissing employee engagement as a mere rebranding or a superficial trend in HR.


However, employee engagement is not merely another superficial HR concept. The view has led some to argue that ‘the concept of employee engagement needs to be more clearly defined … or it needs to be abandoned’. Skeptics have long argued that the term ‘engagement’ is likely to fall out of usage at some point because it lacks substance or distinctiveness. As well as being challenged for a lack of clear definition, it is also seen to be a relabelling of existing constructs, and thus redundant.

Unfortunately, this criticism sometimes overshadows the importance of employee engagement in thriving organizations, where the neglect of it is more evident than proactive efforts to improve it.


Challenges with composite engagement measures

We stand with CIPD in the discussion on and well-argumented criticsm about how consultancy and management practices often creates more “old wine in new bottles”, “fads and fashions” or “been there, bottled that” – see their discussion report from January 2021.

Because a number of consultancy firms have developed (their “own one-point-of-questionable-truth”) composite measures of engagement along these lines. Gallup’s Q12 is just one example of a tool widely used by consultants and practitioners, but it doesn’t always meet the standards of academic research. Some scholars have raised concerns about its validity and consider it a composite measure lacking in scientific rigor.

When developing a reliable measure, it’s not enough to group survey items together and give them a name. Validation is key. The measure should be tested against similar and different constructs to show it behaves as expected in theory. To put it simply, merging various measures into a single score doesn’t work like magic. It results in a confusing mix of metrics, making it hard to interpret the data.


For instance, when an organization wants to gauge employee engagement, it might involve many aspects such as alignment with company goals, using one’s strengths, satisfaction with pay, and relationships with managers. Combining all of these into one score makes it difficult to understand what’s driving differences or improvements. This could very well be the reason why Bailey et al. (2015), in a systematic study review, chose to exclude studies relying on the Q12 due to concerns that it serves as a broad, all-encompassing measure lacking in validity.

Advocates of composite measures might argue that you can break them down, but this can lead to a loose collection of measures that may not provide clear insights. While it’s understandable that employers are interested in various aspects of employee experiences, it’s crucial for measures to be precise and focused. Often, it’s more effective to consider these aspects individually – especially if you wish to investigate the relationship between engagement and relevant independent variables in a regression analysis (which, essentially, requires the dependent variable to be measured!).


The need for clarity

So. Why was a clear definition and understandable conceptualization important again? Because creating a work environment where employee engagement thrives is crucial for organizations, as it leads to positive outcomes like lower turnover, reduced absenteeism, higher job satisfaction, increased efficiency, and productivity.


To become more data-driven and implement progressive HR initiatives, research consistently emphasizes the significance of employee engagement. It all starts with defining the core concept and how it has evolved over the years in various evidence-based interpretations explored in applied research.

And hence, we move forward to where we position ourselves, when we assist, consult, advocate and what-not our clients about employee engagement. A definition. A clear one that’s scientifically grounded.


Survey Fatique 1300x700
Employee Survey Fatigue - How to ensure better response rates

In recent years, our exposure to quantitative employee surveys have increased – which also applies to the organizational field of research. The rise in digital survey platforms and easier distribution methods has led to more frequent workplace survey invitations, but it’s also caused a drop in the response rate.


This leads to Survey Fatigue:

When respondents lose interest in your surveys because of the overwhelming frequency of survey requests or the extensive effort and questions involved in completing them.


This, in turn, can create unfortunate barriers to the validity and representativeness of your engagement surveys in general. As employee engagement surveys gain increasing popularity, the quest for high response rates and valuable insights presents growing challenges. Organizations seek to assess their employees’ work life, but these hurdles cannot be ignored.

In this article, we’ll unveil the concept of survey fatigue and provide strategies to combat this silent adversary of quantitative research designs.


What are the main risks about Survey Fatigue?

When it comes to employee engagement surveys, there are a couple of key issues related to survey fatigue that you should be aware of.

  • First, you might run into a problem of nonresponse. This means that some employees may not participate, which can affect the accuracy of your insights and your ability to make general conclusions.
  • Second, you could end up with data that’s not entirely reliable because tired participants might hurry through the survey, giving quick answers without really paying attention to the questions.


The factors contributing to declining response rates

There are several factors contributing to declining response rates.

Firstly, there’s a proliferation of surveys, as more and more companies and organizations use them to gather opinions. This, along with the growing number of survey service providers and an increasing interest in data-driven decision-making, is causing what we call survey fatigue.

Another important point is that people who don’t respond to surveys are often more likely to contemplate leaving their jobs and generally report lower job satisfaction and less contentment with their supervisors compared to those who do respond.

What this means is that if a company’s HR department doesn’t receive feedback from these dissatisfied individuals, the data they collect may not accurately represent the reality. It could provide a more positive but inaccurate picture of the situation.


Lack of communication and followed actions from surveys triggers fatigue!

A research review performed by McKinsey showed that the number one driver of survey fatigue among participants is when they believe the organization won’t take any action based on the survey results.

On the flip side, when organizations not only run employee engagement surveys but also actively share relevant information and take appropriate actions based on the feedback, it encourages more employees to take part in current and future surveys.

Clearly, the crucial takeaway here is that employee surveys should be seen as a tool for making meaningful improvements, not just a metric by itself.


Louise Aarkrog
Head of Marketing & Communication

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