Monica MontesaJuly 12, 2019
Topics: Employee Experience

Before You Send an Employee Survey, Consider This

Surveys have been the go-to tactic for collecting employee feedback on a large scale for years. But are they really benefiting your company, HR team, and internal talent?

While surveys can reveal a wealth of information about your organization’s internal culture, it’s important to survey with caution to avoid doing more harm than good.

Asking dozens of questions about a variety of topics opens the floodgates for feedback —some of which you might not be ready or able to address. And when that happens, employees can grow disgruntled if their opinions don’t lead to real change.

To craft a survey that provides you with the information needed in a way that builds trust with employees, here are four best practices to keep in mind:

1. Survey for change.

Before crafting a survey, make sure you can answer the following questions:

  • What do we hope to learn from this survey?
  • Will we be able to implement change based on the results?

If you have a clear direction for what you hope to take away from the survey, and your company is in a position where you’ll be able to do something with the results, give it the green light.

To boost feedback rates and trust in the long-run, conduct a survey around a specific area you’re willing to change. Instead of vaguely asking, “What could we improve at our company?” ask more pointed questions such as, “What could we improve about our health insurance benefits?” Doing so allows employees to share their opinions, while also providing you with insights required to make a decision about benefits.

A few topics you might send out surveys for:

  • Benefits
  • Management/Leadership
  • Learning & Development
  • Work/Life balance
  • Advocacy
  • Alignment

2. Segment your audience.

Personalization is key to engagement. We’re more inclined to pay attention and take action when presented with content that appeals to us. It’s how companies like Netflix and Spotify have transformed the way we shop and listen to music—they cater to our need for relevancy.

While there are many ways to personalize experiences for employees, consider how it applies to the survey you want to send. Do you need feedback from every single employee, or can you reach out to a smaller group? Consider segmenting internal talent by:

  • Office location
  • Department
  • Position
  • Years at the company

3. Aim for simplicity.

If you’ve used survey tools like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms, you’ll notice there are a number of different ways to present a question. From rating scales to multiple choice to open-ended questions, the options are plenty:

Multiple ChoiceRating ScaleOpen response

As you build your survey, consider how long it takes someone to complete it—generally, the less time is required, the better. One way to cut down on completion time is by keeping your questions simple. Avoid using too many different types of questions so employees can quickly fill it out.

4. Sender shorter, frequent pulse surveys.

Another way to reduce the time it takes to finish a survey? Keep your questions to a minimum, only asking the most essential ones. When an employee knows a survey will only require a few minutes of their time, they’ll be more likely to complete it.

Sending shorter, more frequent pulse surveys gives you the opportunity to get quick feedback on a regular basis. Tie it back to a specific area you want to get a pulse check on, such as if there has been a change in the business. If there are rumors circulating around the water cooler, shorter surveys can help you get a sense for what is and isn’t true.

While you can craft your own survey questions, consider sending an eNPS survey, which measures employee sentiment and engagement. In fact, some companies, including Apple, simply send one question, “How likely are you to recommend our company on a scale from 0 to 10?” This should take seconds to complete, and helps you identify your biggest advocates and detractors on a large scale. You can send these surveys as often as you'd like, whether once a month or twice a year.

Of course, feel free to include more questions to get more specific feedback. Consider no more than 10 questions to reduce the barrier to complete.

Follow these best practices and you’ll be on your way to creating a more positive employee experience!

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