The Do’s and Don’ts of Employee Surveys

Josje Hoek

Are you planning on initiating an employee survey? Great idea! By getting the best out of your employees, your organisation can become healthier and more successful. They can make all the difference if they’re in the right place and feel comfortable at work. What is important to watch out for when setting up an employee survey and which traps should you avoid falling into? In this article you will read the most important do’s and don’ts when properly setting up an employee survey.

Good employee survey questions: the Do’s

1. Measure more than employee satisfaction

Employee satisfaction provides you with an insight into how your employees feel about working at your organisation. In 2013 the average general satisfaction level in Europe is 6.6. That is a good score but what does it actually tell us? It is much more interesting if not only your employees’ satisfaction but also their employee engagement, employee commitment, motivation and productivity is mapped in your employee survey questions. With this you will be able to see what is going well and what can be improved upon. Engagement and commitment are particularly good aspects to measure. Engaged and committed employees deliver more but cost the same as those employees who don’t show these qualities.

Why conduct an employee survey?

2. To get the best results, involve your employees in the survey

The success of an employee survey is based on the response rate. If only a small amount of employees fill in the questionnaire you will not have a true reflection of your organisation, making it difficult to properly interpret the results. Effectory therefore recommends that you involve your employees during all stages of the survey. When you are setting up the survey, ask your employees if they would like to be involved in thinking about the aim of the survey and which questions need to be asked. This will not only provide you with interesting input, you will also immediately receive support from within the organisation. Next, during the response phase, be sure to frequently communicate the fact that the questionnaire can be filled in. Make enquiries among staff why they are filling it in or not and use this information to stimulate them. Inform all employees about the results of the survey as soon as they are known. Next, start working together with them to improve things.

3. Guarantees anonymity

Guaranteeing anonymity is key to getting a high response rate. Your aim as an organisation is to find out what is really happening on the work floor and to not get socially acceptable answers. Anonymity is therefore very important in order to get a good employee survey result. When carrying out a digital survey, use a secure server. If you’ve chosen for paper questionnaires we recommend you set up a freepost address to which the questionnaires can be sent. Also, make sure you make it absolutely clear that the survey is really anonymous to convince people to take part. This is the reason why many organisations use an outside agency.

The Don’ts

1. Draw up a questionnaire yourself

If you set a questionnaire yourself you most probably are not using validated questions. It is then very difficult to analyse the results and create usable reports. Also, be careful with the way the questions are phrased. The questions must be objective and not steer people in a certain direction. Therefore you should always use a set of validated questions for your survey to be successful.

2. Only look at your own results

If you only look at your own organisation’s results, it is very hard to evaluate the scores. For example you might score 6.2 for motivation and 7.3 for employee satisfaction. What do these scores tell us? You must therefore always put your scores in perspective. Use a benchmark against which you can compare your results. If you, for instance, set your motivation score of 6.2 against the national average of 7.1, you will know that improvement is possible. Benchmark figures are therefore very useful to use in your reports.

3. Only share the results with the management

The employee satisfaction survey will supply you and your management with ample management information. However, do not forget to share the results with your workforce and involve them in the creation of an action plan. If the results are limited to the management, the workforce will not feel involved which could in turn lead to resistance. It will also be hard to stimulate your employees to fill in the questionnaire for the next survey. If you set up an action plan together with your employees the chance of it succeeding will be much greater.

More tips?

If you would like more tips on how to set up a successful employee survey, request the manual. It includes a quick scan for the set-up of your survey. By using this book you will not forget anything. It is an essential tool for a successful employee survey.

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