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How to Write an Employee Survey to Get the Best Results

Posted on March 21, 2016
Amy DozierWritten by Amy Dozier | Email author

Good Vs. Bad Employee Surveys

All joking aside, there are lots of reasons why our clients call us to help them conduct an employee survey: they want to know why turnover is so high; they want to know the satisfaction levels of employees with regards to their jobs and benefits offered; they want to know what training they should be offering; and many call us because they are looking to improve what they believe is already a great culture with high employee engagement.  Regardless of the reason, they all have one thing in common: they chose to use a third party to conduct the survey.

The way a survey is written and administered can greatly affect the level of participation and the quality of the responses received. It can be the difference between implementing programs that will drive good business decisions versus bad ones.

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Common Problems with Employee Surveys:

  1. Poorly written survey questions can lead to partial responses that may have been influenced simply by the structure of the question.
  2. Subtle word usage can greatly alter the way participants respond to a survey question.
  3. Thinking about the question from every angle is essential; if survey questions are written in way that is perceived by the participants as biased, participants may feel as though their responses are not confidential or that the survey is trying to lead to a certain result.
  4. Choosing the wrong rating scale can result in incomplete and biased responses.
  5. Filters need to be chosen carefully to slice and dice the data in a way that is useful, while not giving up anonymity.

The Problems with Conducting Employee Surveys Internally

Finally, our clients who want real data know that their employees are going to be more honest when the survey is conducted by a third party.  I recently had a client who said, “We’re an IT company, all our people know there is no such thing as true anonymity.” By engaging a third party, an extra layer of protection is added and he can guarantee to his employees responses will absolutely be anonymous and, in fact, he will only be given the themes as a result of the survey responses.

The only thing worse than taking no action after conducting a survey is investing in programs based on data that does not tell the whole story – which came from poorly written surveys.  A third party can help you avoid this problem and get you the best results from your survey.

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