How to Build an Effective Employee Survey
In a previous article, “Are Your Employees Really Happy?“, we sang the praises of employee satisfaction surveys. It busted a few myths about them and discussed why surveys are an essential business tool.
Since the article ran, I’ve been asked, “What questions should a survey include?”
This article will give you some things to consider when selecting survey questions.
Get the Whole Picture
The purpose of a survey is to reveal what your employees are thinking and feeling about your organization. It’s helpful to prompt them with a series of questions in several topic areas. In a comprehensive survey, it’s common to ask specific questions about the following:
- Organizational leadership
- Culture and environment
- Relationship with manager
- Relationships with coworkers
- Performance evaluation system
- Training and development opportunities
A comprehensive employee survey may bring up a lot of issues. It’s important not to become overwhelmed and throw in the towel, but rather to communicate to the staff that your intention is to make improvements over time, and then list the priorities.
Pick an Area of Focus
Another option to consider is surveying in phases.
For example, if you are preparing for a fall open enrollment, you may want to conduct a benefits survey in July to determine which benefits are important to your team.
It may be helpful to conduct a survey in January about overall culture and work/life issues to make sure your workplace is attractive to potential new employees who you’ll want to recruit in the spring.
You might also consider choosing several different areas to survey (such as organizational leadership, communication, and relationships with managers) to get a holistic view of your employees’ perspectives on how the organization is being led.
Start Where You Are
If you are trying to change the culture of your organization, be sure to ask about the areas that you’re looking to improve.
For example, if you are trying to build a culture of trust, you’ll want to ask your employees what they think about the levels of trust within their department, with other departments, and with leadership.
Question Your Assumptions
Make sure you even ask your staff about things you think you know for a fact.
Let’s say your organization is well-known for having great teamwork. You may figure, “Why ask about that? We know it’s our area of strength!”
However, because it’s a key differentiator for your organization’s culture, you’ll want to continue to nurture it so it doesn’t slip. By regularly surveying employees about the important things, you’ll be sure to keep them on your radar.
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