Writing Employee Surveys that Actually Generate Employee Feedback

Published On: September 16, 2021|Categories: Employees|
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Surveys play an important role in the improvement of a company’s procedures, culture and benefits. And while not many people look forward to completing or creating surveys, they can provide valuable feedback.

However, if the surveys aren’t asking the right questions, it’s true that they can misuse valuable work time. Here are some tips to help you make sure your company’s surveys focus on the important stuff, collect the feedback you’re looking for and start the process of making improvements to better the workplace overall. 

1. Pick your topic

If you’re going to distribute a survey, make sure it’s for the purpose of addressing a particular topic and not just because it’s “survey time.” Ensure good, honest feedback by focusing on one subject like culture, management or employee engagement. This can help keep surveys short, which in turn can help promote participation.

2. Determine the best time to distribute it

Handing out surveys right after bonus season can yield overly positive feedback, while surveys distributed during stressful times can lead to negative results. Therefore, avoid asking for feedback during irregular times and instead aim to distribute them when you know you’ll get maximum, genuine responses. 

3. Consider pulse surveys

Pulse surveys are short and sweet – between one and five questions – and cover a single topic. They are sent out regularly to get quick insight into employees’ views, as well as encourage more frequent feedback. Employees are much more likely to respond to quick and regular pulse surveys versus long, annual surveys. 

4. Have a plan for the collected data

If you don’t have a plan for learning from and implementing changes as a result of the survey, there’s little need to send out the survey in the first place. Therefore, know the goal of the survey before distribution. Is it to learn why turnover is so high? Do you want to create a new staffing position, but want to first determine where the need is? Once you know the end goal of the survey, you can better craft the survey to gather answers to your questions.

5. Keep your ear to the ground

Listen to what your employees are saying. Is an isolated employee complaining about an old company policy, or do many people seem to have an issue with it? Is one department noticeably struggling while another seems to have plenty of time on its hands? By taking notice of what people are saying, you can observe problem areas and utilize surveys to get honest feedback to in turn solve problems professionally.

6. Let your employees know their feedback is heard and valuable

To promote participation and honesty, promise your employees that their feedback is heard and action is in the works. When people notice their comments and suggestions are heard and acted upon when appropriate, they’ll be more likely to participate and to do so genuinely and honestly.

7. Keep it anonymous

Not everyone likes to be vocal about their concerns or complaints, so keeping opinions anonymous can encourage employee participation. Plus, anonymity allows the entire process of gathering the data to remain entirely free of personal bias.

8. Keep questions short

Long questions that require long answers can be confusing for employees to fill out, as well as confusing for managers to read. Extensive survey questions can also lead to off-topic, misconstrued or misunderstood answers. To make the process simple and avoid confusion, keep questions short, clear and to the point.

9. Don’t write questions that skew answers

Questions that say, “What did you take away from the incredible company seminar last week?” make it seem like everyone thought the seminar was incredible. If an employee doesn’t share this opinion, they might feel pressure to give positive feedback that didn’t accurately reflect their experience. Keep questions free of implications by removing emotion when appropriate.

10. Keep questions specific

Vague questions are a gateway for vague answers, eliciting poor feedback. Therefore, keep questions specific and direct so that the information you receive is also specific.

11. Ask one question at a time

If you ask more than one question at the same time, you run the risk of receiving answers that lose track of the context. This feedback can be difficult to decipher and can lead to tossing out the question entirely, which, in the end, wastes a lot of time. Therefore, stick to one question per survey section so employees understand what they’re being asked.

12. Stick to your topic

Whatever topic you selected, make sure the questions you craft adhere to it. If your topic is workplace culture, avoid asking questions that aren’t immediately related. This will ensure the data you receive is effective in fostering needed change.

For the good of the company

Good employee survey questions help promote a healthy, functioning workplace, offering managers the opportunity to continuously consider the needs of their employees. For more information about how to benefit your employees, contact Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP today at (800) 543-5080.

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