The benefit of running an annual employee survey has for a long time been widely accepted but many organizations have been put off by the amount of effort that is required.
Many organizations who have bit the bullet and conducted their own internal employee satisfaction surveys have often relied on word-processors to allow them to design and compile a survey, then gone through the effort of printing and distributing the survey and spent time chasing and collecting the completed surveys and then even more time transferring the survey response information into a meaningful management report.
Fortunately with the introduction of the Internet and hosted survey websites what was once a time consuming, resource hungry, long winded and cumbersome process is now slick, quick and easy.
This document provides a step by step guide to help implement a survey that will bring considerable benefits to any organization.
Step 1 – Identifying the Need
There are numerous reasons an organization might benefit from conducting a survey. Listed here are a few of the common reason why employee satisfaction surveys are conducted.
Event Driven Drivers
If your organization is about to embark, or is going through, a change management program employee surveys can assist in managing the change, measuring the effectiveness of the change, help to deliver a ‘message’ and gather valuable feedback throughout the change cycle.
Where an organization is experiencing a period of rapid growth employee surveys can make sure that the employees are aware of their reporting and management responsibilities.
Where an organization is suffering from poor moral brought on by either internal or external influences an employee survey can be used to identify the specific concerns of employees so those concerns can be properly addressed.
An employee survey can help an organization identify the underlying cause of employee unrest that may results in an increase of staff turnover and through the survey findings help find solutions.
As part of a periodic assessment, surveys will assist an organization in regularly reviewing their employees and monitoring an individual’s job satisfaction, training and career development.
Employee surveys will allow the senior management team the opportunity to look at what makes their organisation tick and confirm, or not, that their ‘top down’ view matches the reality and ‘bottom up’ perspective of their employees.
With the help of employee surveys an organization can establish good employer/employee communication that will in turn bring both direct and indirect benefits.
Step 2 – Management Support
Although having management buy-in to a survey is always desirable and in some cases it may prove essential to ensure it is a success, in some instances the results of a survey that may not have had full management support at the start could lead to kick-starting a management that has grown complacent and detached from their employees.
Some senior management teams will recognize and drive the need for employee surveys, while other management teams may need to be convinced of the direct and indirect benefits an employee survey will bring.
The degree that management commit to an employee survey will have a bearing on the nature of the survey and to some extent will help determine what questions.
A management that is supportive of the initiative may require feedback on specific areas of the business or they may give the go ahead because they feel confident that the results will only confirm that the level of employee satisfaction throughout the organization is high.
From the very start it is good practice to at least try and get management to buy-in to the employee survey as they have a lot to gain and are in a position to implement any change that a survey might identify as being required.
Step 3 – Designing The Survey
Good surveys will take some time and effort to write but providing the basic rules of survey design are followed and a concerted effort is made to include the ‘need to know’ questions and omit the ‘nice to know’ an effective survey will begin to take shape.
Deciding on what questions should be asked will be entirely dependent on the individual organization, its structure and the previously identified primary need and objectives of the employee survey.
When considering what questions to ask consideration should be given to how the results are to be analyzed. For example there may be a desire to ask for individual comments but these types of answer formats can be very time consuming and cumbersome to analyze and should therefore be avoided or used sparingly.
With online surveys it is generally better to do a few smaller surveys than one very long survey as the longer the survey the higher the drop out rate will be.
Step 4 – Proof Reading And Testing
Grammar, Spelling And Clarity
Before publishing the survey make a careful check for spelling and typing mistakes and incorrect grammar. It is recommended that you always have a colleague who has not been involved in the survey design to proof read the survey with clean eyes before the survey goes live, if no colleague is available try to take a break before checking through the survey again.
Say What You Mean And Mean What You Say
When checking the survey you need to consider the survey from the viewpoint of the respondent, you may know what you mean by each question but will the questions be clear to the employee?
Allow The Employee To Answer Truthfully
Where the employee will be required to choose from a number of available responses, closed questions, have you allowed the employee to answer accurately? Make use of responses like ‘No Comment’, ‘Not Applicable’ or ‘Don’t know’ where you want to make the question mandatory but the employee may not be able to answer.
Consider allowing the employee to include an ‘Other’ answer but also appreciate that ‘Other’ answers will add to the complexity when analyzing the survey results.
Don’t Require A Response To Questions That May Not Have One
Check that for any questions that you have made mandatory you do require an answer, for example open questions such as asking for additional comments should not be mandatory unless you definitely require the respondent to write a comment.
Check that the Data can be Analyzed
Make another check of the survey but this time examine how the results of the survey will be analyzed. Give consideration as to how you will want to analyze the survey data, have you asked the right questions to be able to perform the detailed analysis that you desire? For example if you wanted to view the detailed response data from the perspective of the different genders, or maybe departments, check you have asked the employee to indicate their own gender and/or department.
Don’t Ask More Questions than you Need to
Consider all the questions in the survey and look for questions that are not ‘need to know’.
Test the Link and Try Completing the Survey
Publish the survey and then send the survey’s link to colleagues who will be able to help you test the survey. By completing the survey yourself you will get a feel for how the respondent will view the survey. From your own and the feedback of your colleagues stop and fine tune the survey as required.
Repeat this process until you are happy with the survey.
Check the data
Take time to view the online summary results of the test data and confirm that the data is being collected in a manner that can be properly analyzed and that will give meaningful results.
Step 5 – Promoting And Deploying The Survey
Where all or the majority of employees have access to the Internet or company intranet deploying the online survey is as easy as falling off a log, either via email or by establishing a link to the survey from your own website or the Intranet.
Where there are some or many employees that do not have direct access to the internet there are a number of alternatives that can be used from issuing the survey in printed form, providing a shared terminal or giving them an incentive to complete the survey at home.
Respondents can be allowed to complete a survey anonymously. A survey where respondents are allowed to be anonymous may encourage employees to speak their minds promoting ‘a warts and all’ approach, in turn giving management an opportunity to address potentially serious problems before it is too late.
However, allowing anonymous comments also allows employees to be more flippant and cavalier with their responses. Some organizations may only wish to take account of the views of those employees that are prepared to stand by their convictions and that will also allow the organization to follow up the specific concerns of individual employees.
The decision to allow anonymous responses or not will, among other factors, be down to the individual organization, the specific nature of the survey, the surrounding circumstances, the management style and the existing employer/employee relationship.
Step 6 – Monitoring
While the survey is in progress you will be able to view the summary results online and also monitor in real-time the number of surveys that have been both started and completed.
If after a few days the number of completed surveys falls short of the expected target it is advisable to send periodic reminders to employees asking them to complete the survey.
Step 7 – Analyzing The Results
When it comes to analyzing the results data there are no hard and fast rules. Much will depend on the specific survey, the questions that are asked and the number of responses that are received.
The majority of surveys will benefit from the results being displayed in graphical as well as tabular form.
Providing the right questions have been asked when the survey data is first analyzed often a number of ‘headline’ results will immediately stand out that will provide you with an overview and an instant assessment of the general mood of the organization.
Where the results give areas of concern a more detailed analysis may be advisable. For example if employees were asked if they felt the organization provided equal opportunities to both genders and 25% gave a negative response it would be useful to know the gender split of the organization and also to look at what the gender split was of the 25% that answered negatively. Was any negative view shared by employees of both genders, is it a view held throughout the organization, or is it one that is limited to a particular gender and/or a particular department?
There is a method of reporting that presents the result data in tabular and/or graphical form allowing those who are interested in the results to view the raw data.
Often used as a complement to the first, another method is to interpret the results and provide an analysis of the data and offer a view as to what the meaning is behind the results, what circumstances may have contributed to the results being as they are and, where the results indicate a negative, what initiatives could be taken. Such analysis if done by a single individual is likely to be very personal, if done by a committee it is still likely to be objective and therefore open to interpretation.
Step 8 – Further Action
The most important step is more likely to be the last. The results of an employee survey will either confirm that the perfect organization really does exist or, and more likely, it will by the individual and common concerns that are raised identify the areas that are less than perfect.
It may be that further more detailed surveys are required that target specific areas. For example the survey may reveal that negative responses are received from employees working in a particular department but the reasons for their negativity may not be clear. A specifically targeted follow-up survey may help reveal the root causes.
When employee surveys are periodically run an organization that has taken steps to address issues will see their efforts reflected in subsequent survey responses. Almost all organizations have problems and it will help the moral of an organization to see that a channel is available that will highlight problems that can then be addressed and resolved.
These guidelines are intended to help an organization conduct successful employee satisfaction surveys, they are however, only a guide.
Organizations are often different in style and structure and each organizations ‘personality’ will go someway to influencing the tone and nature of the survey and organizations will have many different reasons for conducting a survey.
By utilizing existing technology and conducting surveys online you are now able to monitor the heart beat of an organization, quickly, easily and, by using websites like www.surveygalaxy.com, at minimal cost.