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Employee Survey Secrets

Employee survey secrets unlocked
Time and time again we hear the same concerns from HR professionals like you when they've been give the task of implementing an employee survey in their organization. How do we get good participation? How do we ensure valid responses? How do we get valid comparisons to other companies? How do we design a survey that meets our needs?

We've been in the research business for more than 30 years and there's nothing we haven't encountered when it comes to surveys. Here are some of the things we've learned that go miles towards making a project successful.

These shouldn't be secrets, but we're always suprised when these simple principles (which should be obvious) go unheeded or ignored. Follow these rules and you'll have a much better outcome.

How to guarantee employee survey success every time

  1. How do we get Senior Management "buy-in"?

    It's critical to get management on board for any employee survey. If not, the risk is that nothing will be done with the results and employees will feel that their voices are not being heard. That's worse than not doing a survey in the first place. There's a wealth of data on how organizations with high levels employee engagement and satisfaction outperform their competitors financially and management loves to beat the competition. Happy employees = happy customers = higher profits. It's really that simple.

  2. How do we get good participation?

    Easy. Communicate, communicate, communicate! Once Senior Management is "on-board" they need to follow through and take ownership of the process. Management needs to announce the survey to all employees by all means available well before the survey is to take place. It's vital to make employees feel that they are part of the process and that by listening to them the organization is committed to making improvements. Do this right and you can easily reach 90% participation. Check out our employee survey planning guide for more help.

  3. Is it 100% anonymous?

    Anonymity is the number one concern we hear from employees doing surveys. It's almost always fear of retribution if comments make their way back to managers or supervisors. If there isn't strong coonfidence that the survey will protect their identity then participation will suffer and honest feedback will be unlikely. The problem with DIY survey tools is that despite their ease and advanced capability, you have automatic access to each individual survey, meaning right off the bat, you are not protecting employee anonymity. Only a reputable 3rd party can promise that.

  4. How do we get valuable feedback?

    With a well-written, well-designed survey that's not too short and not too long. You don't want survey burn-out, but you definitely need more than 12 short statements to really understand your culture and what drives satisfaction in your organization. Good survey design is not easy (although everyone seems to think it's a piece of cake) and you can do a lot of damage by coming to the wrong conclusions based on a badly written or ambiguous survey. Having an experienced 3rd party is really important not only in terms of design and analysis, but it lends credibility to the whole process. We've seen lots of really bad in-house surveys over the years (as well as more than a few from well-known survey companies!) Don't make that mistake.

  5. How do we compare to other companies?

    You can only do this with valid benchmark data. So make sure your survey vendor has valid, "representative" survey norms. Don't allow your organization to be compared to one or two other "similar" companies who happen to be in their client database. That kind of data is NOT representative of an entire industry. It is misleading at best and useless at worst. Insist on valid comparative data. Find our more about employee survey benchmarking here.

Four simple secrets to success that are often overlooked: management buy-in, ample communication (both pre-survey and post-survey), rock-solid survey design and valid benchmarks. There's more, of course, but these are fundamental to achieving actionable results that can be used to move your organization forward.

Robert D Gray
Robert Gray
Insightlink Communications

Are you ready to find out how our comprehensive approach to employee satisfaction surveys can help in your organization? Find out what hundreds of other companies have discovered: That the small investment required to achieve measurable improvement is not just a benefit to employees, but to you and your entire organization as a whole.

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