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Employee Surveys – Why Are They Important And How You Should Do It

10 min read

No matter what a company does or how far it has come, there is always scope for improvement. Gathering employee feedback is the first step towards making more informed decisions that affect the people of the organisation. Employees can contribute to shaping the workplace culture when there is an outlet for their thoughts and opinions such as an engagement survey. The words of H James Harrington, sums it up aptly as, measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it. Employee surveys are a great way to understand, control and improve employee sentiments and workplace culture.

Importance Of Conducting Employee Surveys

Employee experience, employee satisfaction, employee motivation and employee morale are all driven by different factors in the organisation. The only way to understand all of this is through employee surveys. Employee surveys can pave the way towards success and fulfilment of goals when they are effectively curated. When the right tools are used along with the right metrics and by asking the right questions at the right times, an employee survey tool can be the most powerful tool to provide insight into employee insights.

Today technological development provides new ways of collecting and measuring data such as AI algorithms that facilitate big data to measure employee engagement through email responses and network connections across organisations. This data can help forecast turnover risk. The purpose of employment surveys cover 3 main areas namely:

  • Tracking engagement levels and drivers of engagement
  • Track whether current strategy is working
  • Demonstrate that employees’ opinions matter to the organisation

Listed below are some of the key reasons why conducting employee surveys are extremely important to the health of the organisation.

1. Empower Employees

Conducting these surveys creates a conducive work environment wherein employees are assured that their voices are heard and that their opinions matter. Completing the questionnaire gives the opportunity for employees to express their thoughts, views and concerns. As per research, employees value having a say, even if they dont get their way.

2. Measure Employee Engagement

Measuring key drivers of engagement within the organisation, will allow the company to assess the levels of engagement. While there are no standard drivers, the commonly assessed factors are career advancement, recognition, pay and benefits, training opportunities, job responsibilities, work culture and so on.

3. Increase Employee Engagement

Once the organisation determines the levels of engagement in an organisation, through surveys, they can devise an action plan to increase engagement. Either a company wide action plan can be devised or focus could be on action areas depending upon the nature of the business. Once the changes to be implemented are identified, priorities can be set, resources determined and an implementation schedule can be drawn up.

4. Enhance Organisational Growth

Knowing how the company fares in areas such as employee satisfaction, leadership effectiveness, work culture and so on will give definite direction to the company and tangible objectives for change. The employee survey will also highlight the existent best practices, which can be further improved. All these actionable points will definitely lead to overall organizational growth.

Best Practices In Employee Surveys

Survey results are increasingly being used to drive management decisions. Therefore, it is necessary to have a high level of participation in order to ensure that key findings accurately reflect concerns of the employees. A low level of participation also shows a disengaged workforce which could be lethal to an organisation. Hence, participation in the employee survey is dependent on how well the process is designed and administered. Some of the best practices to ensure that an employee survey is a success are:

  • Establish Clear Goals And Objectives

Articulate the goals and objectives clearly in the beginning of the survey such that there is no ambiguity. 

  • Confidential Not Anonymous

One of the best practices to be borne in mind is to ensure confidentiality but not anonymity. Assuring anonymity will only mean that the data will never be used for any further analysis. 

  • Types Of Questions

It would be best to begin and end with simple questions and avoid open ended questions as far as possible. It should be borne in mind that the survey needs to be undertaken with the point of giving input for improvement rather than as a chore. It should be an overall pleasant experience rather than seeming like adding to an already long day with tiresome questions. The language used in the questionnaire should be simple and jargon free.

  • Data Collection

Data should be collected at the right time and in a manner that is best suited for the workforce of the organisation. Traditionally surveys were administered using printed formats but today it is possible to conduct surveys online that make data collection easier, more efficient and less expensive. Ease and convenience translate to higher response rates. The survey should be administered at a time when there will be minimal disruption to work and the maximum people will be able to take on the survey. It is also crucial for surveys to be conducted such that the results of the survey will be available in time to be included in business and budget planning. 

  • Follow Up Action

The most effective way for an organisation to build confidence in its people would be to take clear action based on the feedback from surveys conducted. This will also ensure that the maximum number of people will take part in surveys in future. Remember to share key survey findings including the areas earmarked for change. 

  • Review And Audit The Process

A formal audit process should be in place to monitor the effectiveness of follow up actions and to measure progress against objectives. Actions that meet with success should be announced and celebrated. A review also serves to give a comparative perspective of the results from the previous surveys. This helps to ascertain the direction the company needs to take going forward.

Some Pitfalls To Avoid

A carefully researched and applied employee survey can work wonders for the company whereas a badly organised one can really botch a company’s chances to fare better. Since the onset of the digital age, there are a number of new digital survey tools that enable employers to attain feedback in a targeted manner.

However, not all available tools will work well and is therefore best to go with tried and tested ones such as the Gallup Scale or the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale.

Whatever the survey tool chosen the following pitfalls will ensure the survey is successful

  • Writing questions based on biases
  • Asking irrelevant or unnecessary questions
  • Asking too many questions in one survey
  • Survey happening at too frequent intervals
  • Creating benchmarks based on personal feelings
  • Not connecting survey data with performance outcomes
  • Not communicating the results of the survey to the workforce
  • Not taking any action after a survey

Some Sample Questions:

  • Do you believe the organisation has your best interests when making business decisions?
  • Has your organisation maintained adequate communication with all of its employees?
  • Does your team inspire you to do your best work?
  • Would you refer someone to work here?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 how happy are you at work?
  • Do you feel valued at work?
  • The last time you achieved a big target did you receive any recognition?
  • Do you believe you will reach your full potential with our organisation?
  • Do you believe management takes your feedback seriously?
  • Use three words to describe the culture of the organisation.
  • Do you receive ample learning opportunities?

When making big decisions for organisations, such as vision, value, culture, training, benefits and so on, leaders need to feel confident in the objectivity and reliability of their results. The right actions therefore, begin with the right survey!

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    Meet the author

    Keka Editorial Team

    A bunch of inspired, creative and ambitious youngsters- that’s Keka’s editorial team for you. We have a thirst to learn new subjects and curate diverse pieces for our readers. Our deep understanding and knowledge of Human Resources has enabled us to answer almost every question pertaining to this department. If not seen finding ways to simplify the HR world, they can be found striking conversations with anyone and everyone , petting dogs, obsessing over gadgets, or baking cakes.


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