Five Tips for Effective Employee Survey Design - Novacrea Research
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Focus. Photo credit: Tony Cornish, Flickr Creative Common

Five Tips for Effective Employee Survey Design

When planning for an employee survey, you need to be very clear what you want to achieve with your survey. Get focus and ignore non-essentials. Just like managing all the information that’s constantly available to us.

If you are like me, you probably subscribe to several news lists, professional publication lists, and RSS feeds. We want to keep up with everything lest we miss some big news or fall behind the latest research or industry trends.

But we cannot keep up. We are stressed. Indeed, we need to focus on only what’s important and ignore others! This is just what Peter Bregman prescribed in his blog on HRB. Peter advised that we focus on two lists: your focus list – what you want to achieve and what’s important to you; and your ignore list – what are you willing to let go and what’s not important to you.

Likewise, when planning for an employee survey, you need to have a focus list of topics that you want to survey and ignore other irrelevant topics at this time.

For example, a typical employee engagement survey includes questions about company culture, leadership, communications, career development, performance management, benefits and compensation, and employee recognition. Do you really need to survey employees on all the topics listed above? Can you focus your energy on two to three topics that will give you the most leverage when you take action?

Before you embark on conducting an employee survey, you and your team should take a step back and ask these questions:

  • What are our goals in conducting an employee survey? Is it to improve employees’ performance, productivity, or retain and engage new hires?
  • What did our past employee survey results tell us? Can we zero in on three topics that have the most impact on our business strategy and goals?
  • Are there particular areas where we need to ask more questions and dig deeper so that we can get richer employee feedback?
  • What additional topics do we need to include in the survey so that we can use the results to inform our talent strategy?
  • What topics can we ignore in this survey? When in doubt, ask how you would act on the results if you were to include such a topic in the survey.

Finally, you need to think about how you’d like to see your survey results. In addition to getting your organization’s overall results, which subgroup results do you want to see? Here again, less is more. Do not include demographic questions that are nice to have but not essential. For example, if you are not planning to make any program or policy changes based on employee’s years of service, then don’t include Years of Service in your demographic section.

In survey design, just like in taking charge of our daily life, it’s important to stay focused and ignore other non-essential questions, no matter how attractive they are. This takes courage especially if your organization has been conducting employee survey year after year with the same set of questions.

I challenge you to get your team together to critically review your questionnaire. Make sure that you’re asking questions that are important, essential, and lead to actionable results.

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