How to Create Effective Employee Surveys

— June 5, 2017

Regardless of industry, over the course of your career you’ve likely been asked to complete an employee survey at least once. Perhaps it was nerve-wracking, or maybe it was confusing and unclear, but when conducted properly, employee surveys really do work. They hold the power to uncover information on culture, engagement, satisfaction, and more in ways that are rarely discovered otherwise. Here are the vital areas to consider when creating effective employee surveys.


Ensure Privacy


Privacy is critical in obtaining accurate and full survey responses, and must be a priority from the very beginning. When someone puts their trust in a private conversation with a friend, they are willing to be open and honest knowing that any information they divulge is confidential. Similarly, employees must be able to trust in survey administrators and have a guarantee of confidentiality. It’s usually difficult to critique a superior’s performance out of fear of repercussions, and privacy can alleviate that barrier.


There is a single way to truly guarantee privacy for your staff, and that is to enlist a third party to disseminate surveys. An outsourced survey expert can add the comfort level needed to obtain the most authentic responses. This is accomplished by describing the process to employees and indicating that all names and identifying features are removed from feedback prior to anyone in their organization seeing surveys responses. At the same time, an outsourced expert is able to stay neutral throughout the process and avoid any managerial bias from affecting the compiling of results.


Think About the Why


With the business world moving so rapidly, it’s easy to get caught up in the motion of action without paying due diligence to the purpose of activities. Ask yourself why you want to conduct an employee survey. Is it because you read about it in a magazine and want to act on a trending topic? Or do you have concrete business goals? Surveys are often conducted with a specific area of the organization in mind. Some seek to gauge the effectiveness of training programs. Others may concentrate on what benefits employees care about most in order to update healthcare and retirement packages.


Understanding the why will determine the makeup of questions in an employee survey. While a quick google search can give you a handful of decent questions, copying and pasting them will not prove as fruitful as tailoring questions carefully to your organization’s goals. The outcome of your survey and information it garners can only be as good as the questions asked. Many managers have been surprised at what insights are uncovered when correctly-phrased, researched, and strategic questions are asked.


Fully Analyze Results


Surveys cannot add value to your organization if their results are not completely understood. Making a knee-jerk decision based on initial data will often prove disastrous, as it takes time to determine what survey responses actually indicate. If possible, segment the data appropriately, perhaps into categories of managers and other staff, or by departments if your organization is large enough. Qualitative and quantitative data each have their place in shedding light, as overall feedback can prove crucial to improvements such as overcoming high employee turnover.


At Synergy, we’ve compiled in-depth survey reports that extend to over 25 pages long and are broken down and segmented by many topics. If you’ve conducted a survey before, how do your new results differ from past responses? Is there a clear trend, and are there any outside factors that may have skewed results? Looking into these questions can determine if your employees are truly part of the 70% of U.S. workers not engaged at work, or if there are other factors affecting your organizational dynamics.


Take Action


Once survey results are fully analyzed, it’s time to take action. All that effort wasn’t just to produce a façade to make employees feel like they’ve been heard. You conducted a survey because you genuinely wanted to improve engagement, retention, and the environment. When considering what actions to take, think about your industry and competitors. How did their employees answer similar questions, and what steps did they take?


Outsourcing your HR can reap tremendous benefits when it comes to this area, and will ultimately save you time and money. As an expert, a good PEO can not only plan, conduct, and analyze survey results, but most importantly, they can precisely describe the necessary actions needed in order to improve the employee experience. They know how the most successful businesses in your industry are operating, and can inform on industry best practices and opportunities for differentiation.


How to Create Effective Employee Surveys


The closest thing to a magic bullet, an employee survey has the ability to improve culture, retention, engagement, morale, and more. Many understand the time and effort it takes to efficiently carry out an employee survey project. Knowing that they cannot fully accomplish what’s necessary, they either put it off indefinitely, or even worse, conduct a subpar survey.

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