Are you getting your employee survey right?

satisfaction surveyHow well do you really know what your employees think about your business and their working environment? Do you do an employee survey to find out?

Employee surveys promise much: they promise us that we’ll find out how to successfully motivate our employees, how to improve employee engagement and how to boost productivity. They seduce us with promises of better customer service, improved financial performance and a better working environment.

The problem with the traditional way of doing an employee survey is that they tend to be an annual survey, and the business tries to include absolutely everything it can think off. As a result the surveys tend to take a lot of time for employees to complete, time they need to do their job. Then, to make matters worse, companies take these surveys, analyse the results, find out what the problem areas are, and then fail to take action.

If you’re raising expectations that issues highlighted in the survey will be addressed, and then they are not, then you’re only demotivating and demoralising your employees. And do you think they will bother to complete the next survey if they believe nothing will change as a result?

Perhaps the problem is the sheer number of areas that need to be addressed. The business doesn’t have the budget or the resources to address everything, so inevitably some things get left undone.

Would a better solution be breaking down the annual employee satisfaction survey into bite-sized surveys, addressing one issue at a time, drip fed throughout the year? This would mean that the surveys become much shorter, and might only take five minutes out of an employee’s day to complete, and therefore it doesn’t feel so onerous. Also the number of issues highlighted would be smaller, meaning that it becomes easier to address them, because budgets and resources aren’t as stretched.


Some areas you might want to survey

Employee recognition

Recognition means a lot to people, and it means more when it comes from their peers. Employee recognition surveys allow you to find out if your employees are not only receiving recognition, but also giving recognition to their peers.

happiness meter


Employee growth/career fulfilment

Most employees want to progress their career, and have a sense of importance within the organisation. An employee growth/career fulfilment survey allows you to find out if their career development needs are being fulfilled.


Employee happiness

Happy employees make productive employees, so employee happiness should not be overlooked. Employee happiness surveys take a snapshot of the mood of your employees, but because they are affected by external factors, such as bad business news, they should be done on a regular basis, not just once a year.


Employee relationships

The relationships employees have at work, particularly with their manager, are crucial. Employee relationship surveys allow you to discover if your employees have good working relationships with the co-workers and managers. You can also find out how often employees and their managers communicate,and whether it can be improved.



Tips for employee surveys

  • Determine what areas you want to focus on such as rewards, recognition, career development, etc.,  and make sure you ask the right questions. Find out to what extent your employees experience something, and how important it is to them.
  • Make sure you have allocated a budget and resources to address the problem areas. If you don’t have enough resources to address every problem area, prioritise the actions and inform employees about what will be done with the outstanding points, so they don’t think they are being ignored.
  • Don’t just leave employee surveys to the HR team. Involve your managers and senior leadership in encouraging employees to complete the surveys, and then implementing solutions to the issues raised. You might even have a town hall meeting lead by your CEO, in which they talk about the results and what actions are being taken, and answers any questions your employees might have.


John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.
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