The simple fact that an organisation has a programme for conducting ongoing employee surveys can send a clear message to staff that their opinions are valued.
By adopting the following employee survey principles, you’ll be well on your way to energising your employees and building sustainable high performance.
COMMITMENT FROM THE TOP
HR should gain full commitment of the organisation's senior management team before conducting any employee survey. This has multiple benefits from ensuring research insights drive action & change, to increasing completion rates when survey invitations are distributed.
ESTABLISH CLEAR GOALS & OBJECTIVES
Determine what it is you want to achieve before embarking on the survey design. There are several types of employee surveys; from employee satisfaction, employee engagement surveys to organisation cultural surveys. Defining objectives at the planning stage will optimise survey design, have a positive impact on completion rates, and generate a clearer action plan post results.
FREQUENCY & TIMINGS
The purpose of the survey and needs of the business will help establish the survey frequency. Employee feedback is generally collected on a regular basis with trend analysis conducted to measure performance over time. The time an employee survey is conducted needs careful consideration to increase completions and avoid skewing results, either positively or negatively. Avoiding peak holiday times and known high-stress periods within your organisation to aid response rates. If a company is going through a major organisation change, such as redundancies or a takeover, conducting a survey may not be advisable as uncertainty and fear can hamper employees willingness to participate and provide honest feedback.
SURVEY DESIGN FUNDAMENTALS
Regardless of the type of employee survey you may be considering, there are key principle that should be adhered to for a successful outcome:
Keep it concise - short surveys work better and aid response rates. Remember that completing the survey is extra work for an employee. The longer the survey, the lower the completions.
Keep it simple - avoid jargon, technical terminology, double barrelled questions (e.g. Marketing & IT are responsive) and leading questions. Use inclusive language that everyone understands to improve the UX and overall results.
Include neutral statements - leading questions and exclusion of negative statements will generate unrealistic results
Style of question - due to the scale of employee surveys, closed questions such as numerical & attitudinal scales are recommended. Unless there is a solid reason to include an open-ended question, they should be avoided. Inclusion of numerous open-ended questions is more time consuming & costly to analysis and creates inconsistent data that tends to be omitted from trend analysis. If an open-ended question is to be included it is advisable to focus this on employee suggestions at the end of the survey.
Ensure anonymity & confidentiality - Some employees may be suspicious and question the confidentiality of online surveys given the ability to track IP addresses, e-mail addresses and other information. Having an agency conduct the survey usually helps allay employees' fears of being identified on surveys. The company should advise employees from the outset that survey responses will be reported in aggregate form only and kept absolutely confidential to ensure that everyone feels comfortable providing honest feedback.
Pilot before launch - piloting the survey before full distribution helps identify any ambiguous questions. Addressing any unclear questions or anticipated responses in the survey prior to full launch will improve the quality of response data.
When the survey is distributed it should be send with a personalised email from your CEO or Director to advocate the staff survey and its significance on the organisation. The message should include:
the purpose of the survey
security of responses and confidentiality
survey open and close dates
how long the survey will take to complete
what will happen post employee survey
mention any charity donations or incentives
build confidence in the data collection process by including the research agency's credentials such as Market Research Company Partner Membership and ICO registered number.