Wild Birds Unlimited
Published April 1, 2022

Why Employee Engagement Survey Results Are Important to Franchise Culture

How Three Franchise Brands Are Using Employee Engagement Surveys to Positively Impact Employee Engagement and Retention 

If there’s been one positive to emerge from the pandemic, it’s brought the importance of employee engagement to the forefront. Never before have organizations had to deal with a dramatic change in the way we work on such a massive scale. Burnout, Zoom fatigue, and safety concerns, among other things, have created The Great Resignation, the She-cession, and the Working Dead.

The resulting labor shortage has impacted the franchising sector significantly, but the franchise companies that prioritize well-being and a positive culture continue to attract great hires, retain their best employees and grow their brand. The key difference that sets them apart is their commitment to employee engagement, asking for feedback, and involving their teams in building a positive culture. 

In FBR’s 2022 industry survey, 50% of franchisors responded that they have never conducted an employee satisfaction survey of their corporate team, which means that half of franchisors are missing a huge opportunity to ask, “How are we doing?” and make even small changes that could have a huge impact on employee engagement and retention. 


Putting Employee Engagement Survey Results into Practice

Franchise Business Review works with franchisors, franchise suppliers, and franchisees to measure employee engagement. We recently partnered with Massage Heights, Hot Dish Advertising, and Wild Birds Unlimited to survey their employees and benchmark satisfaction. All of them have done an extraordinary job of using the data to identify areas for improvement, share the results with their team and take positive steps toward putting employee feedback into practice. Here’s how they did it.

Massage Heights

Background: With new CEO Susan Boresow on board, Massage Heights conducted an employee engagement survey (in conjunction with a franchisee satisfaction survey) with FBR to establish a baseline employee satisfaction benchmark in May 2021.

What they did: When they received the data, the entire executive team reviewed it together and planned a day-long retreat, which concluded with a social event, to share the results with staff. For many, the event was the first time staff had all been together since the pandemic started, including some new hires who had never met the entire team in person. The day’s agenda focused on values. They went through each question as a group, encouraging open discussion. Participation was phenomenal, some employees were emotional, and everyone was forthcoming.

Susan shared some of the initiatives that had already been put into motion, including a retirement program and a flex return to office policy. The staff then formed breakout groups to discuss the survey results in more detail and came back together to present what they had identified as priorities. 

The result: Susan said she could physically see the shift in body language during the discussion. Employees were open and honest. There was a level of trust established and a refocus on core values that allowed the team to express changes they felt would improve the Massage Heights culture. 

What changed: The leadership team listened to the feedback from staff and implemented a number of small and large changes to support employee well-being and positive culture: 

  • Creation of a Staff Culture Team. The Culture Team is in charge of creating a fun and inviting environment: organizing community fundraisers, celebrating work anniversaries and birthdays, and planning happy hours, and implementing a prize system. 
  • Revamp team meetings. Team meetings are held monthly. They review goals and responsibilities and provide status updates. Each person gets one slide and gives a 20 second update on wins from the past week and goals for the coming week.
  • Structured one-on-ones. Previously, there had been no structure to one-on-one check-ins. Going forward there are established performance reviews, monthly coaching and personal plans for each team member. 
  • Revisit the onboarding process for new employees. Onboarding videos and employee handbook are being reviewed and updated.     
  • Prioritize health and wellness. Employees are given a $75 monthly stipend for self care. It does not have to be for gym membership; it is flexible to include anything that benefits physical or mental wellness. 
  • Relaxed dress code. Implementing a casual dress code was one of the smallest changes but resulted in the most excitement. 
  • New office space. The team will be moving to a new location. As part of the move, one room in the new space will be allocated for employees and the Culture Team will decide how they want to use it.  


Hot Dish Advertising

Background: Hot Dish Advertising first participated in Franchise Business Review’s employee engagement survey as part of the Franchising at Work Employee Engagement & Compensation Study. They received a basic scorecard showing their benchmark score in eight key areas of the survey. The following year, they resurveyed their employees, and opted to receive the full detailed results of the survey in order to do a deep dive into the data and have the opportunity to see open comments from employees. 

What they did: The leadership team, led by Dawn Kane and Jennifer Campbell, reviewed the results of the survey and went through all the open comments to identify any sensitive issues that they needed to address before sharing the data with the staff. The (anonymous) comments revealed that one person was clearly very unhappy. As they discussed it, one of the leadership team members owned it and shared that they hadn’t felt comfortable bringing the issue up earlier. They then shared the results with the entire staff, and followed up with a meeting to discuss them. 

The result: Leadership said the tone of the organization feels like people are more committed and accountable to each other. Additionally, all employees were working remotely. They were asked if they wanted to return to the office, but ultimately arrived at a decision to continue remote work. 

What changed (year one): 

  • With the shift to remote work, Hot Dish supplied employees with larger screens, stand up desks, laptop stands, and considered additional one-off requests that would make people more comfortable at home. 
  • Creation of a kudos Slack channel to show appreciation and give shout outs. Each quarter they randomly selected one giver and one recipient of a kudos to win an Amex gift card. 

What changed (year two): 

  • Recognize and reduce burnout. Because the team is still working remotely, leaders make a concerted effort to encourage people to take a break from the computer, walk around the block, and shut down for the day at 5:00. 
  • More in-person touch points. They created more opportunities to connect and engage with each other remotely.
  • Creation of non-leadership committees focused on team wellness and connection. Hot Dish established a “Fun Committee” to plan monthly events during work hours to socialize virtually. Some of the events include lunchtime trivia (lunch is delivered), social hour at the end of quarterly meetings as a fun wrap-up to the day, and monthly summer happy hours. There’s also a team health committee that plans optional wellness events, including the Hot Dish Hike Club on Saturdays.


Wild Birds Unlimited

Background: Wild Birds Unlimited has grown their staff significantly over the past several years and in 2022, almost one-third of the corporate employees had joined the organization within the past three years. “With so many dynamic changes, you can’t take your eye off the ball with culture,” said Pat Perkinson, Wild Birds Unlimited’s COO.

Wild Birds Unlimited was a Franchising at Work Employee Engagement Award finalist in 2019 and 2021.

What they did: The executive team reviewed the data and set up focus groups composed of team members grouping various seniority levels and departments within the company. Each group had a moderator and met regularly over the course of five weeks to discuss takeaways from the survey data and brainstorm ideas, which they then presented to the executive team.

Results: Using the focus group feedback, the executive team created an internal follow up survey to drill down into the top issues to tackle in the coming year and shared those objectives with the entire staff. It also had the added bonus of introducing team members who don’t regularly work together to each other and helped them understand what other teams were doing.

What changed:

  • Internal communication. During the pandemic, the leadership team dialed back communication in an effort to give employees (and franchisees) an opportunity to disconnect. However, survey results showed that staff actually preferred more frequent communication. The team implemented more consistent communication as well as direction on how to communicate and which platform to use. 
  • Fewer meetings. Meetings were streamlined with more consistent agendas to be able to convey more information while cutting down the number of meetings needed.
  • Better alignment across teams. This included prioritization of projects, identifying who determines priorities, and opportunities for dialogue when discrepancies arise. 
  • More opportunities for learning and engagement in staff meetings. Staff members present what they’re doing so they can learn from each other. Surprise guest speakers are also brought in; during one meeting store owners spoke in the all-staff meeting, which gave employees who don’t regularly interact with franchisees (e.g., IT, marketing) an opportunity to hear how their efforts make a difference for franchise owners. 
  • Creation of a new internal HR manager role.

Pat Perkinson of Wild Birds Unlimited discussed the results of their employee engagement survey, as well as how they are using the data to make continuous improvements to their culture, in more detail on FBR’s webinar, The Future of Hiring Within the Franchise Sector. You can watch the webinar here

Each of these organizations has a positive culture, but each also uncovered surprises in their survey results. By implementing best practices—reviewing the data, sharing the results with staff, asking employees for input on how to make improvements, and implementing changes that have the greatest impact—they have seen increases in employee engagement. If you’re ready to start making a positive impact on culture and engagement in your franchise system, request a free demo of our employee engagement survey tool or contact us to get started here.

Related Content:

Franchising at Work ReportFranchising at Work Report: Employee Engagement & Compensation Study

Read the full report to learn the detailed findings of the study, including:

  • Which franchise employees are least satisfied
  • Where does the biggest pay gap exist?
  • What’s the biggest factor in employee retention (Hint: It isn’t money)


About the Author: Ali Forman

As the Marketing Director, Ali’s role is to educate franchise companies about and inspire them to participate in FBR’s research in order to grow and improve their brands. Ali's previous experience includes senior marketing communications roles in the employee benefits, data privacy, and publishing sectors. She lives in Maine with her husband and two sons.
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