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Tips for Effectively Administering Employee Surveys

Author: Dave Rietsema - Matchr CEO

Employee surveys seem like the ultimate tool for finding out what it is that employees want and helping to keep them engaged. It’s important for companies to know that employees are satisfied and engaged. Surveys can be useful for discovering if there are issues of incompatibility or engagement. A company cannot address issues affecting employee productivity if it doesn’t know about them.

What Is the Purpose of Employee Surveys?

Employee surveys have three primary purposes. They are designed to measure:

  • Employee culture
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Employee engagement

An employee culture survey assesses whether or not an employee’s point of view aligns with the department in which they work or that of the company as a whole. It’s meant to determine whether employees are a good fit within the company’s culture. Satisfaction surveys measure employee attitudes towards the organization itself. How do employees feel about the company they work for? This type of survey seeks to assess employee satisfaction with the organization. Employee engagement surveys measure employee engagement. They look at employees’ passion for their work, their commitment to the organization, and their motivation.

Employee survey questions can focus on just one of these three main purposes. However, an employee survey doesn’t have to focus on just one. An employee questionnaire can have more than one purpose and include a variety of different types of questions as needed.

How to Conduct an Employee Survey

When employee surveys are used properly, they can hold the keys to lower turnover, improved performance, decreased absence, and many other attractive engagement-related benefits. However, when not used properly, they can actually have a negative impact on these issues, causing employees to feel undervalued and even less engaged.

The following tips can help companies to administer and use employee surveys more effectively.

Consider Making the Survey Anonymous

Depending on the topic of the survey, it may be a good idea to allow employees to answer the survey anonymously. You may get much more truthful responses to your questions if employees can answer without worrying about possible repercussions. For example, employees may not be willing to truthfully answer that they were searching for other jobs for fear they might lose their current job if their bosses or HR found out.

Establish Clear Goals for the Survey

Goals and objectives for surveys should be tied to specific performance improvements and cost savings that may be obtained through the use of the survey. Return on the time and monetary investment put into conducting the survey and acting on results should be measurable. The power to take certain actions based on survey results should be discussed and approved beforehand so that the questions that are asked on the survey can be strategically geared and acted upon quickly.

Ask the Right Questions in the Right Way

When designing the questions, the company culture should be taken into consideration and the questions should be geared to address things that the employees will care about. Designing survey questions can be tricky, so ample time and attention should be put into them. Using a generic survey form can make employees feel alienated and unengaged with both the questions and the results. It’s important for each question to address only one thing. Otherwise, it can be difficult to know which part of the question the answer referred to.

Decide on a Response and Action Timeline

Research shows that the bulk of responses come in within the first three days after a survey has been distributed, so there is no need to drag out the process. If possible, surveys should be given in a group setting with a certain amount of time allotted to fill out the survey, as this is the most likely arrangement for getting all employees to respond. If this is not possible or doesn’t fit with company culture, however, surveys can be distributed and a deadline can be given for turning them in.

After surveys have been collected, the results should be calculated and the action should be taken as quickly as possible. This is perhaps the most important considerations for increasing the effectiveness of surveys. If employees see that action is being taken based on their feedback, they will automatically feel more valued and engaged which can help to achieve some of the objectives of the survey, even when actions vary widely.

Offer Multiple Methods for Taking the Survey

Employees’ lives and preferences can vary, so offering multiple methods for taking the survey is the wisest option for most companies. When employees can respond using a pen and paper at work, a pen and paper at home on their own time, an app or email at home or an automated form at work, employees from different departments and levels are more likely to participate. Offering only one method may limit your responses.

Communicate Clearly Throughout the Survey Process

Communication between employees, managers, and HR professions is key throughout the whole survey process. Before the survey is even given, employees should have an idea of what it is about and how long they will have to complete it so they will start thinking about it and planning for it. While the survey is being taken, HR professionals and managers should be there to answer questions and provide support.

After a survey has been analyzed, the results should be communicated so that employees can see the correlation between the results and the actions that are taken. Following up in this way will make employees feel that taking the time to complete the survey was worthwhile, which can dramatically increase the effectiveness of the survey.

Questions to Include in an Employee Survey

The questions included in employee questionnaires can vary, depending on the purpose of the survey. For example, an employee engagement survey will contain more questions regarding how an employee feels about their work. Choose the questions for your survey that will most align with your intended goals for that survey. Asking the right questions is essential to making the survey as effective as possible.

In the Past Month, Have You Interviewed for Other Jobs?

This question is important to discover if you may have potential turnover. Employee retention is essential to the company’s ability to remain competitive. If you have problems that are causing employees to seek employment elsewhere, it’s important to find out about it as quickly as possible so those issues can be addressed before your top employees leave for another company.

Do You Want to Receive Any Training?

A company that helps employees grow is a company that employees want to work for. Asking if an employee wants to receive training can help you identify employees who may want to earn a promotion or who have goals in a different department. This question can also determine if there are areas within their current jobs that employees feel they need more training.

Have You Accomplished a Career Goal in the Past Month?

This question can have two purposes. First, it can establish whether employees are going above and beyond their current work whether they’ve been recognized for it or not. Secondly, it can help you determine whether or not employees are feeling frustrated with the current state of their careers.

What Motivates You to Go Above and Beyond?

It’s a good idea to know what motivates your employees to put in the extra effort. This is especially important if you have employees who lack motivation. Your company can get a better idea of what might help improve their motivation to be more productive.

Does This Company Support You Professionally?

Employees are much more likely to leave for a different company if they don’t feel like their current company supports them. Depending on the answers to this question, your company may want to offer additional training programs that can help your employees develop new skills.

Do You Feel That You’re Making Professional Progress at This Company?

It’s important for employee retention to ensure that your staff feels that they can progress in their careers while with your company. If they feel like their job is a dead end in their careers, they’ll search for a job that isn’t. You can also help ensure that you’re not sending employees down career paths that they don’t actually want.

How Much More Money Would Another Company Have to Offer for You to Want to Leave?

If the amount an employee names is too low, that can indicate that the employee is unhappy or unfulfilled with their job. An employee who is willing to leave over a small sum doesn’t have much that is keeping them tied to your company. If an employee names an amount that is too high, then your company may not be offering competitive compensation.

If You Left the Company Tomorrow, Why Would That Be?

The answers to this question can give you an idea of improvements your company can make. Even if an employee isn’t currently thinking about leaving, their answers could let you know what problems exist that might influence turnover. You can look for improvements that can benefit the company and your employees, filling in any gaps that you discover in the survey.

Have You Received Recognition From a Manager in the Past Month?

Recognition for a job well done is important for employees to feel valued and appreciated by the company. If managers aren’t recognizing employees’ hard work and accomplishments, employees may feel dissatisfied. Even worse is if managers are taking credit for an employee’s successes.

Does Your Manager Set Clear Goals for You?

Clear goals are important for employees to be effective. If they don’t know what their bosses want them to do or how they want them to do it, employees and managers alike will be frustrated. On top of that, employees may not feel that their work is making much of a difference for the company.

Do You Feel Comfortable Providing Feedback to Your Supervisor?

It’s important for supervisors to be willing to listen to feedback. Ideas from all employees can help your company grow and improve. If a supervisor is unwilling to embrace an employee’s ideas or isn’t receptive to listening to their staff members, that can be a problem. This question can help you ensure that employees are comfortable talking to their supervisors.

Has the Company Made Any Improvements Since Doing Surveys?

It’s a good idea to find out if the surveys have had any effect on your company. This question may only be useful when surveying employees who have been with the company for some time. These employees will be better equipped to see changes over time and improvements in your company.

What Don’t You Like About Your Current Work Environment?

It’s important to know what your employees don’t like. There may be some small and easily fixed things that can greatly affect an employee’s ability to be productive. Some of the things employees don’t like may not be as easily solved, but it’s good to know what might prevent your employees from being more effective.

Would You Refer a Friend to Work Here?

If an employee is happy with their job, then they would be happy to refer a friend to apply. If employees wouldn’t refer the company to someone else, then that is a sign there are problems. If your company won’t come recommended by its own employees, it’s a clue that some major changes are needed.

Do You Have All of the Resources You Need?

Employees won’t be able to achieve their full potential with your company if you’re not supplying when with the resources they need. These resources could be tools, such as a new computer. Resources can also mean training in a new skill, new software, or assistance with a task.

Is your company looking for a HRIS to manage employee surveys? We can help you find the right software. Visit our vendor match page to get started.

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