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Beware Short Surveys

Posted by Insightlink on 07/08/15

Why Length Matters

Pulse surveys are a current trend in employee research and like anything that says quick, easy and cheap, beware of gimmicks that overpromise. Pulse surveys can be appealing because they promise to get you the data you want fast without any real hassle for your employees, which sounds great, but on the other hand if you can’t act on the results, what’s the point?
Put this in another way- if you asked your partner if they were happy and they said no, than you might want to ask why. And if your partner’s answer to the 2nd question was that ‘you didn’t communicate’ then you might want to dig further and ask a 3rd question to find out more precisely, what do they mean exactly? Depending on the nature of the problem and how serious it is, you might even want your partner to write it out in their own handwriting so you get the whole picture, the story behind the words.

And do not forget that the whole point of asking your partner these questions is because you want to know what they think of you and your relationship because you care what they think.

The same could be said about employee surveys.

Now you may not care about your employees in the same way you do your partner, but you are showing them that you care what they think when you ask their opinions.
And therein lies the problem with short surveys.

Short surveys can tell you there is a problem but in the essence of keeping the survey short, they don’t tell you why. How does an HR manager take action to solve a communication problem for example, if they don’t know why it’s a problem? This should not be a guessing game!

At Insightlink, I think sometimes clients feel our questionnaire is too long. We typically ask 45 questions and on average the survey takes 20 minutes to complete. I am not trying to sell anyone on Insightlink but I do want to point out that there is a good reason why surveys are supposed to be long. A longer survey gets the answers to all the questions so that you have a comprehensive understanding of what the problems are and more specifically in what ways. Then if you discover lots of employees are saying the same thing, you have a really big problem and chances are, you can fix it.

I just ask that you don’t be too quick to choose the quick surveys over the longer ones. Most employees appreciate being asked their opinion, which they are happy to give, if they truly believe you care what they think and how they feel. Just remember the secret to employee research is to react and make the appropriate changes or you will be wasting your employees’ time and then you will be worse off than before you started, no matter how long the survey is!

If only people were as easy to understand as our furry friends then we wouldn't need surveys to find out!

Here's to happier employees!


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