How to Build an Effective Workplace Survey

By Bryan Wood
October 27, 2017

If you’re interested in attracting and retaining talent within your organization, it’s worth your time to consider building a workplace survey. No matter how large your business is or what industry you’re in, you can benefit from collecting employee feedback to evaluate and build a better workplace.

“Surveys are a great way to gauge how employees view certain aspects of their employment and to identify areas that can be improved upon,” says Human Resources Professional Jana Tulloch of DevelopIntelligence. Whether you’re looking to assess your company’s work environment, culture, employee engagement, or leadership, you can gather critical insight into the employee experience by surveying your workforce.

So where do you start?

Survey Monkey has pre-designed templates for employee surveys – their templates range from topics such as job satisfaction, employee satisfaction with the company, measures of leadership effectiveness, and many others,” says Certified HR Coach Lisa Barrington of Barrington Coaching.

Another option that provides flexible templates is Google Forms. “Google Docs has a great ‘forms’ format that lets you build your own survey easily, and will tally the results for you,” says Ms. Tulloch. “You can adjust the surveys or create different versions, so it’s a scalable process,” says Sophie Lhoutellier, HR Manager at Badger Maps. “It allows you to see and manage the results immediately and get a great overview of the responses.”

What kinds of questions should you ask?

Survey Monkey provides templates that help you assess nearly every metric imaginable. “Whether you want to measure job satisfaction, get feedback on benefits, or do performance evaluations, our expert templates make it easy to get started. And our powerful analytics help you spot trends, create charts, and export professional reports,” the website reads.

According to HR experts, whether you’re adopting a template or designing your own workplace survey, the right questions must be asked. “Some great questions include asking about people’s direct managers (since many staff leaves organizations when they have a bad manager),” says Ms. Tulloch, “such as:

  • How would you rate your manager’s leadership style?
  • How would you rate your manager’s communication skills?  (use a scale for those types of questions)
  • Two open-ended questions – What should your manager continue doing, and What should your manager consider changing?”

Additionally, Ms. Tulloch advises that if you’d like to ask company questions that target your employees’ job satisfaction, engagement, and motivation, you could ask the following questions:

  • How satisfied are you with your overall compensation?
  • How satisfied are you with your opportunities for training/career advancement?
  • Do you feel the company encourages (work-life balance/ volunteering/ sustainability, etc)?

Ms. Barrington suggests that a 5-point Likert scale using descriptors such as strongly disagree, disagree, neither agree nor disagree, agree, strongly agree can be helpful in measuring employee job satisfaction. For instance, she provides the following statements:

  • I have the latitude to make decisions that more effectively serve the customer (client)?
  • I know when I have done a task well.
  • My colleagues support me in meeting deadlines.

Prior to sending the survey, it’s important to emphasize that there will be no retribution against employees who respond to any of the survey questions negatively.

“There is tremendous value in having a workplace culture that allows employees to feel comfortable answering survey questions honestly,” comments Tawanda Johnson, President of RKL Resources, a national Human Resources Consulting Firm.

Instituting a policy of neutrality will instill confidence in your employees that the survey is being conducted with the utmost integrity, and that their constructive feedback is being considered professionally.

As a final caveat, it’s important to note that how you respond is as much a benefit to you as it is to your employees.

“Too often I see companies go through the motions of collecting survey data, thinking that employees will be satisfied that they are able to provide feedback,” says Stan C. Kimer, President of Total Engagement Consulting. “But employees quickly grow weary when they continually take surveys and see nothing done.”

According to Kimer, the key is to commit to actions and share with the employees. “That will go along way toward building a great climate and engaged employees.”

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