Often the best thing that can be said about employee surveys from the point of view of the employees is that they get downtime for filling them out. Some professionals have already said goodbye to surveys, claiming it is nothing more than a waste of time. That’s a damn shame. Employee surveys could be the very best opportunity for HR not only to get actionable feedback, but also to connect with employees, start fruitful conversations and improve loyalty towards the company. How? Here are some tips.

  1. Less is more

A major improvement almost all HR executives could make is shortening employee surveys. Might seem counterproductive, but survey fatigue is a real issue: people get very bored very fast, especially when a survey includes questions that don’t apply to them. Worse even, too many free text fields make people just as frustrated as too many multiple-choice questions. What a conundrum.

Instead of running annual employee surveys with 50+ questions, ask questions in the form of pulse surveys: tackle one issue, one topic (like well-being benefits, the on-boarding process, the cafeteria, personal development, etc) at a time in no more than 2-3 questions. 

And if you must ask all those questions, segment your employees, so everybody receives those questions only that they can meaningfully answer. Running surveys in this focused manner makes so much more sense and will greatly improve the response rate!

  1. Qualitative vs quantitative

Designing a good, meaningful survey that results in high quality answers is a real art. You will be told by colleagues and professional sources that quantitative, standardizable questionnaires with 5-point scales from “fully agree” to “fully disagree” are the best solution – and they are not completely wrong. Designing point-based questionnaires DO result in exact answers. But is that always what we’re after? Do you always want the most exact answers to pre-determined topics (this applies to multiple-choice questions as well as questions with selectors) or do you want to let your employees formulate their own thoughts? 

Evaluating qualitative surveys may seem like a real hassle, but if you use 5-WORDS, the lion’s share of the work will be done by AI. 

  1. Ensure absolute anonymity

The number one obstacle of honesty is that anonymity is often questionable with employee surveys. When asking your colleagues to respond, you cannot overstate the importance of absolute anonymity. Are job titles and other demographic data really relevant for your questions? If not, better leave them out and not ask about gender, age, location, and the like. 

  1. Communicate the purpose clearly

Another issue causing survey fatigue is that most of the time employee surveys come periodically (quarterly or annually), seemingly without any rhyme or reason. If you are running the survey to improve engagement, to get feedback, or try and make a collective decision about an office issue, then say so and include a clear call to action! For increased engagement, always make sure to showcase the impact surveys made in the past. 

  1. A trick from market researchers: use focus groups

HR has learned a lot from their marketeer colleagues in the last decade. We now talk about employee branding, the employee journey and so on. Another trick that HR managers could steal to make their processes more employee-friendly is using focus groups instead of trying to survey an entire cohort. Bringing colleagues from different departments into the same room and having an in-depth discussion will reveal way more than a general survey. You can conduct interviews, or hold thematic workshops using design thinking methods. In either case, 5-WORDS can help you facilitate brainstorming and grant immediate, on-the-spot feedback opportunities.

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