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Employee Surveys: Get the Data you Need to Improve your Workplace

By: Regina Dyerly, SHRBP, PHR, Chief Operations Officer (COO)

It goes by many names; Pulse, Culture, 360, Engagement, Satisfaction, and Experience. Regardless of the title, the employee survey is a great way for organizations to collect data on multiple items such as satisfaction, motivation, and engagement. Yet, if you are not asking the right questions, it could be a fruitless effort. If analyzed and used correctly, the data collected from surveys can be a powerful tool utilized to improve the workplace environment as well as increase productivity.


​​Here are some parameters to consider before conducting an employee survey:

  • What is the purpose of the survey?

  • Who will see the results of the survey?

  • How will the results be used?

  • How often will surveys be conducted?

  • Is the survey aligned with the organization's strategic objectives?

  • Are the survey questions relevant to the employees' work experience?



Ask the Right Questions

When it comes to employee surveys, there are some pitfalls that organizations should steer clear of when compiling their questions. First, employers should not ask leading questions. Leading questions are those that hint at the desired response or outcome. For example, a question such as "Are you happy with your current job?" is a leading question because it suggests that the respondent should answer "Yes." Leading questions can bias the results of a survey and should be avoided. Second, employers should avoid asking loaded questions. Loaded questions are those that contain assumptions or value judgments. For example, a question such as "Do you think that the company is doing a good job?" is a loaded question because it assumes that the respondent thinks that the company is doing a good job. Like leading questions, loaded questions can also bias the results of a survey. Third, employers should avoid asking double-barreled questions. Double-barreled questions are those that ask about two things at the same time. For example, a question such as "Do you think that the company is doing a good job and that you are paid fairly?" is a double-barreled question. Double-barreled questions can be confusing for respondents and can lead to inaccurate results. Finally, employers should avoid asking questions that are too personal. Personal questions are those that ask about sensitive topics such as age, income, healthfulness or religion. Asking personal questions can make respondents feel uncomfortable and can lead to inaccurate results.


Some good questions to consider include:

  • How satisfied are you with your job?

    • ​ (Answer 1 - 5; 5 = Highly Satisfied, 1 = Highly Dissatisfied)

  • How motivated are you to achieve your work goals?

    • (Answer 1 - 5; 5 = Highly Motivated, 1 = Lacking All Motivation)

  • Do you feel like your voice is heard at work?

    • ​​​(Answer 1 - 5; 5 = Strongly Agree 1 = Strongly Disagree)

  • Have you been recognized and rewarded for your good work?

    • Yes or No

  • Is there anything that would make you want to leave your job?

    • Written answer/ Short Response


Participation is Key

When going through the process of conducting an employee survey, it is important to encourage a high participation rate. A high participation rate ensures that the data collected is representative of the entire workforce. The average participation rate for employee surveys is 70%. However, this varies by organization and industry. For example, organizations in the technology industry tend to have higher participation rates than other industries.

One way to increase participation in your employee survey is to offer an incentive for employees who complete the survey. Employees may be more likely to participate in the survey if they know that they will receive a prize, gift card, or another type of reward. Another way to increase participation is to make the survey short and to the point. If the survey is too long, employees may be less likely to complete it. Finally, you can increase participation by allowing employees to complete the survey anonymously. This will allow employees to feel more comfortable sharing their opinions and feedback. Allowing participation to be anonymous does not mean that you can’t also offer a reward for participation, but you may need to be creative.


Follow Up

Ideally, you should follow up on the survey results within a few weeks. This will give you time to analyze the data and take action based on the findings. Additionally, following up with employees will show them that you are interested in their feedback and that you are taking steps to improve the workplace. Finally, following up with employees will help to build trust between you and your employees and creates a culture of transparency.

The objectives listed above are just a few of the many considerations that should be made before conducting an employee survey. By taking the time to develop thoughtful and relevant questions, organizations can collect and apply data that is both useful and meaningful and ultimately improve your workplace.

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