Staff survey tips & advice

staff satisfaction and happiness survey

Staff surveys are a valuable tool for all businesses of any size to discover beneficial information about staff perceptions of an active workplace environment. By surveying engagement in a workforce it is collectively unravelling insights into how employees are aligned to the organisations objectives. Aligning to objectives can increase productivity, save time and money, and can uncover issues not readily apparent.

Choosing a staff survey to identify company problems & issues

A comprehensive survey can deliver insightful data that can serve as the foundation for action planning, strategy building and identifying key areas within an organisation that would benefit the most from improved engagement. A staff engagement survey should provide insights into the following: employee morale, employee loyalty, manager relationships, staff attitudes towards the organisation, if staff have the necessary tools to perform everyday tasks, how performance reviews are viewed, if staff trust the leadership, and how the company brand is perceived.

Various employee surveys will also identify whether the staff see themselves in the company for a long period of time and will pinpoint reasons affecting turnover and absenteeism. They provide valuable insights into why workers stay with the organisation, how they perceive productivity and the company’s social responsibility, and how valued they feel within the organisation. They will also measure how employees feel about personal growth opportunities, team spirit, pay and benefits, and the work-life balance.

Outstanding employee surveys will also have a focus on the management of a company. Knowing how managers are perceived and trusted by staff is a very valuable commodity that is the singular most determining factor to affect productivity of a team and organisation. A solid leadership and management structure who care, understand, and take interest in their staff will result in a more positive workplace which in turn improves engagement and will increase profits. Read more about the benefits of engagement here.

engagement drive
"The perception & influence of managers is the most determining factor to affect productivity of a organisation"

Staff survey Action Planning

1 Resource The first action to consider when running a staff engagement survey is to determine if you have sufficient internal resource to manage the project or if you would be better off reaching out to an external provider who specialises in the running and converging the data insights.

2 What to Survey? Once you decide to conduct the survey internally or externally, the next point to consider is what you wish to uncover in the survey. Is the survey to run across the entire organisation to understand a wide scope of subjects that will uncover areas that need improvement. Or do you wish to focus on a specific subject i.e. absenteeism, wellness, or salary satisfaction. Running a large survey to cover all subjects will allow you to see problem areas you never thought existed. This is the most beneficial option if you have no previous response feedback from past surveys. It allows you to get a benchmark for the entire company and in turn you can pinpoint smaller surveys at a later date on areas of highlighted concern from the large cover-all survey. It is still beneficial to run a more focussed survey if you are just interested in one subject, however without the cover-all data, it is often more difficult to conduct questions for a single subject without unravelling biased feedback.

3 Who to survey? Do you want to survey all staff or just a sample? If choosing a sample, then how will you make sure that this represents all employees?

4 Anonymity Anonymity is a must, as people won’t respond to a survey if they think they are being monitored. If any doubt enters the mind of a user that the survey may not be anonymous, then they are likely to think twice on completing the survey using their honest opinions. It can often be more difficult to communicate and assure staff of anonymity if you are running the survey internally.

5 Distribution Next is choosing the best methods to distribute the survey. Here is where you have to consider the end user, do they have ease of access to a computer in their daily routine? If not paper and a private area maybe the best option. Are they travelling a lot? If so ensuring the survey is compatible on mobile devices is recommended. Consider how you will administer the survey to ensure data confidentiality and usefulness. Security of the data is also a significant factor, as you certainly don’t want your results leaked. This would damage the possibility of conducting further surveys and of course place personal employee data in a stranger’s hands.

6 Questions Next is to decide what types of questions you need to ask and how you are going to structure the questions to avoid biasing the results. Focus on the topics you wish to address and if the scope of your questions will provide productive responses and clear insights to answer these topics. The language choice is also an important factor to ensure that all staff, regardless of their background and experience, understand each statement or question. To prevent misinterpretation, keep it simple and remember to only address one issue on each question or statement.

7 Feedback Quality Another aspect to consider is how to ensure the quality of the feedback. You want to make sure the feedback is honest and not forced. The last thing you want is real results being skewed from ‘positive answer tickers’ who feel pressured from supervisors, or get bored from survey fatigue. One method to ensure honesty is to repeat and reword questions so that one is weighted to a positive response, whilst the other reworded question has a reversed response. An example of this is below (note, each question would be distributed between other questions to ensure the user is unfamiliar with answering the same question)

Ensuring honesty in Staff Surveys
Strongly DisagreeDisagreeSlightly DisagreeNeither Agree nor DisagreeSlightly AgreeAgreeStrongly Agree
My manager helps me to fulfil my potential
I feel that I lack support from my manager

8 Project Leader Choose a project leader who is highly regarded by the employees and importantly models the behaviours of what we defined as ‘an engaged employee’. The survey’s timing will be crucial since results will reflect any atypical events.

9 Response Rates Timing is important for all communications about the survey, from announcing the survey to sending the survey along with survey reminders. To ensure high response rates choose your timings wisely and consider offering incentives, such as donating a sum of money to a charity for each survey completed.

10 Take Action No matter what results prevail from your survey, it is important to react to them quickly. Send out a thank you to all your staff for completing the survey. Continue this communication with a reveal of the results. It is important to maintain this transparency to assure employees that their voices are being heard and action is taking place. If you receive positive results, then immediately put a plan in place to maintain this level of engagement. If your results need improvement, then you should move quickly to research and action plan how you are going to address the concerns. Either way, the results will represent and reflect the current business culture and reality, so don’t hide them away.

11 Measure Regularly Staff engagement surveys are only useful if you take action on the results and regularly re- measure your efforts to improve focal areas. It is recommended to create an action plan once your initial results are in and stick to that plan. Running a survey just once every 3 years or so is useless, as business environments change and you could end up addressing issues that are no longer relevant. Not addressing issues early on would also create negative feelings in the workforce, giving the impression that the survey is just another tick in the HR box with no real positive actions being implemented. Mini surveys or Pulse surveys are more refined methods for targeting certain subjects of concern in the workforce or particular departments. Insights from your main survey will pinpoint where and what to pulse test within an organisation. It will also identify the areas that will bring the most positive change for improving engagement.

Shaping your company culture

If you have run a comprehensive survey following the action planning advice and tips above, the results will identify any areas of concern from your employees. The culture of your company however can't be changed in a few weeks without a clear vision supported by authentic values and an outrageous ambition. These collectively are known as Organisational Clarity, that helps form trust and belief in your workplace. Read more about shaping your company culture here.