The Ball State Engagement Survey is a brief, annual survey that provides an opportunity for employees to identify Ball State’s strengths and improvement opportunities as a workplace. It is one of the most important tools we have to improve our own work lives, those of our colleagues, and Ball State overall.
Engagement refers to employees’ emotional connection to their jobs and employers. It goes beyond job satisfaction to reflect how invested and aligned employees feel in the success of their teams and the organization.
This survey will allow both University leadership and individual supervisors gather valuable information and insights from our employees that help us make our University an even better place to work and help our employees experience even great fulfillment in our work.
Sharing your thoughts about your work helps drive real change. It is one of the best tools we have to empower employees to voice opinions confidentially to improve our own work lives, those of our colleagues, and Ball State overall. The survey is also an evaluation tool to ensure employees have what they need to be successful.
Part-time and full-time employees are invited to participate in the survey.
Yes, participating in the survey is voluntary. However, higher completion among all employees results in more meaningful and actionable data, so all employees are encouraged to participate.
Gallup will conduct the survey for Ball State. Most well-known for conducting polls, Gallup’s principal business involves research-based consulting for workplace leadership, marketing, and customer practices. Gallup has been around for more than 80 years and is known around the world as a trusted and independent research organization. Gallup is an expert in employee engagement and is responsible for the creation of the gold standard Q12 employee engagement survey.

Originally, Gallup interviewed more than 1 million employees and asked hundreds of questions about countless aspects of the workplace. Using the initial data, Gallup determined which items were best linked to workplace performance. More than 57 million employees have now answered these 12 items.

Gallup searched for patterns in the data: which items were simply different ways of measuring the same factor? Which were the best items to measure each factor? Gallup researchers were not interested in items that yielded a unanimous “Yes, I strongly agree” or “No, I strongly disagree.” Instead, researchers were searching for items to which the most engaged employees—those who were loyal and productive—answered positively, and everyone else—the average performers and the disengaged—answered neutrally or negatively.

From this research, Gallup discovered that 12 items can measure the strength of a workplace. These 12 items do not capture everything about the workplace, but they capture the most important information. They measure the core elements needed to attract, focus, and keep the most talented employees.

Gallup performs ongoing analysis to ensure that the 12 items continue to link to and predict important business outcomes such as productivity, customer ratings, shrinkage or theft, turnover, absenteeism, safety, and quality.

Some of the questions, such as, “I have a best friend at work,” or “At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day,” have extreme wording. Gallup uses extreme wording in several items because research has proven that this kind of language differentiates high-performing teams from low-performing teams on crucial outcomes such as productivity, profitability, safety, and retention.

People might think that some Q12 items are unusual to ask—or are even not suited for—the workplace. One of the most controversial Q12 items is the “best friend” item.

Gallup’s research indicates that friendships are vital to happiness, achievement, and engagement. If you have a best friend at work, you are significantly more likely to engage your fellow team members, partners, and internal customers. You are more likely to get more done in less time, have fun on the job, have a safe work environment with fewer accidents, innovate and share ideas, feel informed and know that your opinions count, and have an opportunity to focus on your strengths each day. Without a best friend at work, the chances of your being engaged in your job are one in 12.

People often challenge the “best friend” item by saying, “I have only one best friend. I’ve known this person for 25 years, and they do not work at this organization. How can I answer this item favorably?” Keep in mind that the item says, “I have a best friend at work.” Meaning, there is a person at work you would consider a best friend. Two explanations clarify why this item is necessary for measuring the engagement level of supervisors and employees—a research-based explanation and a theoretical explanation.

The Research-Based Explanation
Gallup tried wording this item in different ways, such as replacing the word “best” with “close” or “good.” However, the research showed that no other wording variations worked as well as “best friend.” Gallup tested this item, as it did all items, using different wording to determine which words correlated best with positive answers from high-performing teams. Repeatedly, Gallup found that many people on highly productive teams answered this item favorably when using the wording, “I have a best friend at work.” On the other hand, Gallup found that people on teams with average productivity answered this item less favorably. Gallup’s research shows that the “best friend” item links strongly to creativity, client and partnership metrics, and financial responsibility within teams.

The Theoretical Explanation
Think about the people whom you consider your friends. They entertain you, and you like being around them. Think about the people whom you consider best friends. Your best friends share similar values with you. By working with people with whom you share values, you know that you can trust them. Best friends will catch you if you fall. Best friends watch out for you. Having best friends around, you are more confident in making decisions and taking risks and are more productive because you don’t have to watch your back. Chances are, you feel like there is more open communication within your team when people have best friends. “I have a best friend at work” is a proxy for trust, indicating the extent to which trusting relationships exist within a team.

Overall satisfaction with one’s organization is one of the outcomes that the Q12 predicts. People who are extremely satisfied with their organization tend to do many of the extra things that influence their workgroup’s performance. As an outcome, overall satisfaction connects to other outcomes such as retention, productivity, profitability, and, to varying degrees, customer satisfaction. It is important for employees to be satisfied with their organization because people who are satisfied with their organization are proud, are more likely to stay, and are advocates of their organization as a place to work and of its products and services.
More specifically, the goal of the survey is to create a stronger workplace. Gallup’s definition of a stronger workplace is a more productive workplace—one that is more profitable, experiences a lower turnover rate, has fewer accidents, lower healthcare costs, fewer workers’ compensation claims, better customer service, and so forth. Gallup selected the 12 items because of the empirical evidence that connects them to these outcomes.
Traditional employee surveys are based on the premise that employees should be happy or content. Either satisfaction is the goal by itself, or the organization simply assumes satisfied employees will create better business performance. The flaw in this logic is that employees are often “satisfied” for reasons contrary to the interests of the business. While engagement relates to satisfaction and loyalty, engagement also measures other unique information and directly connects to business outcomes such as retention, safety, and productivity. A satisfied employee is not necessarily an engaged employee.

You will receive an email invitation from Gallup with a unique survey URL to participate in the survey. Please do not forward your email, as the URL is unique to you.

The survey is accessible online, 24 hours a day, seven days a week once Gallup distributes an initial invitation. The survey is also mobile-compatible. Ball State employees will have three weeks to complete the survey.

Yes, completing the survey is very important, and each employee will have time to complete it. However, if you do not have a chance at work, you can take the survey at home or on your mobile device anywhere with Internet access.

It takes about 10 minutes to complete the survey.
Post Survey

All supervisors with five or more respondents to the survey receive employee engagement results, which provide a summary of their area. Each supervisor shares the employee engagement results with their team to discuss workplace issues. The supervisor’s role is to facilitate open discussion among team members about the employee engagement results and the team’s action planning for improvement. This is called a State of the Team conversation and is an important strategy for transforming a team into one that is highly engaged. This conversation includes the following steps:

  1. Review your Ball State Employee Engagement results and have an open guided discussion with your team.
  2. Prioritize an engagement item to focus on.
  3. As a team, create a simple action plan.
Individual supervisors will receive the results and share them with their teams.
If a supervisor does not have five or more respondents to receive aggregate data for their team, it is still important to talk about engagement and the needs represented in the engagement survey items.
The workgroup should participate in the State of the Team conversation with the current composition of the team. Remember, the results are just a starting point for discussion and actions that can strengthen the workplace environment going forward.
Ball State will use the survey results to plan investments in the workplace and to implement organizational and local changes that better meet employees’ workplace needs. The survey data are intended to be used as a diagnostic tool to help improve the work environment and enhance employees’ ability to perform their jobs.

The survey results are a starting point for dialogue, action planning, and follow-up. The real power of the survey is the opportunity it provides to identify and address issues in the organization. Every employee plays a role in analyzing what they mean, determining what to improve, and ensuring plans turn into action. Each supervisor should follow these steps:

  • Review your Ball State Employee Engagement results and have an open guided discussion with your team.
  • Prioritize an engagement item to focus on.
  • As a team, create a simple action plan.
  • Follow up on the planned actions to ensure that they are implemented.

Great employees outperform good employees in every statistic, including customer ratings, absenteeism, productivity, retention, and profitability. Great supervisors feel that they can never learn enough about their employees. Frequent, open discussions are the only way to learn more about your employees. Even if every person on your team rated every question item a “5,” there are still opportunities for improvement.

Challenge your team by asking questions such as:

  • “What can we get better at?”
  • “How can we share what we know about engagement with other teams?”
  • “Are there new things we want to try?”
Gallup administers the survey independently of Ball State. Ball State only receives the aggregated results. Gallup includes individual results with other respondents’ data it receives and reports these results at the work unit, business unit, and company-wide levels. Gallup uses specific rules to ensure the confidentiality of individual responses. No one at Ball State can access data identifying specific employee responses.
No, the University cannot identify individual results for any specific employee. Reports contain engagement results for the group only. To further protect each person’s identity, Gallup does not generate reports for groups of four or fewer employees.
No, the only information that Ball State receives is a collective breakdown of a department’s results. No reports contain information about individuals.

No. All individual responses to this survey will be kept completely confidential. Gallup will collect, report, and analyze the data. At no point will anyone at Ball State, including senior leaders or supervisors, be privy to individual responses. All results will be grouped and reported at the team level.

Supervisors will receive a scorecard in which all individual responses will be aggregated into group averages and percentages, as long as there are five or more responses to a given item. If there are fewer than five respondents, that team’s survey results will not be reported. Instead, they will roll into the next higher level or team with five or more responses. Note that the number of respondents, rather than the number of people on the team, determines if a team’s survey results will be reported directly or rolled into the next higher level.