11th November, 2021.
In 2020 there were 44,000 businesses in the UK with over 50 employees. Our State of UK Employee Engagement research found that 52% of businesses send an employee survey at least once every 6 months. That means, every year, there is a minimum of 45,760 employee surveys going back and forth between businesses and employees. That’s a lot of opinions, a lot of data and a lot of questions to get right!
Before we highlight some of the strongest questions to include in your employee surveys, let’s cover some of the essentials first.
Employee surveys are a hugely valuable method of gathering information from employees but there are many things to consider for you to maximise what you achieve.
Ensure you know exactly what you want the survey to achieve. Do you want to measure employee engagement? Do you want to gather opinions on new company values? Do you want to better understand learning and development requirements? Whatever your reason keep it in mind throughout your survey creation ensuring every question relates to the outcome you want to achieve. This will keep it focused and provide higher quality results.
The leaders of whichever teams you are sending the employee survey to need to understand its purpose, benefit and outcome to ensure they promote it effectively to their teams. Any doubt or uncertainty will reduce the number of people that take part and potentially influence how they answer the questions.
Will the output from the survey be the decisive factor for a business decision? Will it contribute to other opinions and/or research? While having a goal is a starting point you also need to be clear as to how the survey will contribute to that goal. This also needs to be known and agreed upon by the entire leadership team. Any confusion or disagreement will hamper the effectiveness of the results.
To maximise survey participation you need to explain why your employees should take time to fill in the survey. This is your time to “sell” the survey. Include your goal, how the results will be used and expected timescales for the results to be actioned.
So often employee surveys end up covering multiple goals. As a result, they either become very long or don’t ask sufficient questions to get a conclusive result. By having a single goal for every survey you and your employees will have a much clearer picture of what its purpose is.
While you may not intentionally exclude people from answering the survey if they do not have direct access to the survey their opportunity will be limited. Either find an employee survey tool that can be sent and filled in via a mobile device or hold sessions in which those employees can have access to the survey. Without this inclusive approach, your results will never be accurate.
If your employee survey will be repeated set specific times for the survey. We are naturally creatures of habit so this familiarity will help with completion rates. If relevant, also include how the results of the previous survey have influenced or changed the business. The reiteration of how the results were used will further build confidence that their time spent filling in the survey will be time worth spent.
Keep your questions to the point. Unnecessary or confusing words in a question will increase the effort required to complete the survey. Avoid using any jargon and keep your wording as simple as possible. Make sure there are no double negatives and ensure every question only asks for one thing.
Ensure your questions are varied enough to keep your employees interested. While you may want to ask five questions to really drill into what they think about one thing, your employees are likely to lose interest. Also, use a variety of answer choices such as multiple choice, radio buttons and sliding scales. This encourages the recipient to keep focused.
While these are useful to give employees an opportunity to expand on a specific point, they also require more effort to answer. As such, many people are likely to skip the question or abandon the survey. They also make it more difficult when analysing the results of the survey. Due to the manual element of needing to review each answer, open-ended answers can become overlooked.
Perhaps one of the hardest things to achieve because you are naturally thinking about how the responses will be used. But effective surveys ensure that every question is neutral. Leading questions that demonstrate opinion will influence the results. Employees will answer the question how they think it should be answered rather than giving their true opinion. For example, instead of asking “How would you rate the success of our leadership team?” ask “How would you rate the performance of our leadership team?”
If using multiple choice take a step back from the question and ensure you include all potential answers. Think of it on a scale from worst to best and include a mid-way response that enables the employee to be neutral. If it isn’t clear cut include a ‘none of the above’ or ‘other’ option. As a survey participant, there is nothing more frustrating than not having the option to select the answer you have in mind.
Recent research found that only 28% of those responsible for sending employee surveys are completely satisfied with how the survey results are used. Typically, this is often due to a lack of resources or time to fully delve into the results. It is also caused by a lack of buy in from leaders in the business who don’t listen to the insight gained from the survey. Therefore, ensure you have the time to tease out every bit of insight from your survey and ensure point 2 is fully completed before you embark on the survey.
The moment employees think survey results aren’t used or listened to is the moment your employee survey participation rate plummets. Once you have analysed the results ensure your share these with your employees and include the outcome of the results. What will happen next? What will change? What are the timescales?
A survey that is clunky to complete or visually unappealing will increase abandon rates. You need to make it as easy and as pleasant an experience as possible. The right employee survey tool should do a lot of this for you but always take a moment to fill the survey in as an employee to ensure it engages you and flows naturally.
Find further tips on how to improve employee survey response rates here.
Employee surveys can cover a vast array of topics from learning and development to cultural alignment. To help you get the most out of your employee survey we have selected questions for the five most common types of employee surveys; professional development surveys, employee satisfaction surveys, employee wellbeing surveys, employee engagement surveys and company culture surveys. All of the questions listed have been chosen because of the quality of the output they generate.
For each closed-ended question consider your pre-defined answer set. Some may benefit from multiple choice answers while others may be better suited to a scale. This consideration combined with the dos and don’ts listed above will help ensure you gather highly valuable insight from your employees.
Whether you want to understand what your employees need and expect to progress their careers with you, or you want to assess how effective your learning and development programmes are, these questions will help you get the answers.
These are the questions to ask if you want to gauge overall employee satisfaction. They will collate the views, attitudes and perceptions of your employees. An employee satisfaction survey is often used if you suspect an element of dissatisfaction because the results can help to define what that dissatisfaction is.
The following questions will help you understand the level of wellbeing within your organisation whilst also identifying if there are any opportunities to improve your wellbeing initiatives.
These questions will help you understand employee engagement by delving into the levels of commitment and drive each employee has for the work they do at your organisation.
Is the way that your employees view their work environment aligned with your company culture vision? These questions will find out by helping you measure the effectiveness of your corporate values.
Our employee survey tool enables you to create bespoke employee surveys whenever you need them. Results are presented in real-time dashboards making it quick and easy for you to analyse the results. Thanks to the employee app, everyone in your organisation receives the survey no matter where or when they work. This, combined with the ability to communicate the results with everyone through the internal communications tool, makes VRAMP a very effective employee survey tool. Discover more here.
I am a focused and highly organised communications professional with over 15 years marketing experience in the B2B sector.