Before we highlight some of the strongest questions to include in your employee surveys, let’s cover some of the essentials first.
Staff surveys are a hugely valuable method of gathering information from employees but there are many things to consider for you to maximise what you achieve.
1. DO have a clear goal for your survey
Ensure you know exactly what you want the survey to achieve. Do you want to measure employee engagement? Do you want to gather opinions on a new internal comms initiative? Do you want to better understand learning and development requirements? Whatever your reason, keep it in mind throughout your survey creation ensuring every question relates to the outcome you want to achieve. This will keep it focused and provide higher quality results.
2. DO NOT send a survey without the relevant leadership team agreeing to its value, goals and output
The leaders of whichever teams you are sending the staff survey to need to understand its purpose, benefit and outcome to ensure they promote it effectively to their teams. Any doubt or uncertainty will reduce the number of people that take part and potentially influence how they answer the questions.
3. DO have a clear understanding of what the employee survey results will contribute to
Will the output from the survey be the conclusion for a decision? Will it contribute to other opinions and/or research? While having a goal is a starting point you also need to be clear as to how the survey will contribute to that goal. This also needs to be known and agreed upon by the relevant managers and leaders. Any confusion or disagreement will hamper the effectiveness of the results.
4. DO NOT send a survey without your staff knowing exactly what it is for
To maximise survey participation you need to explain why your staff should take time to fill in the survey. This is your time to “sell” the survey. Include your goal, how the results will be used and expected timescales for the results to be actioned.
5. DO stick to one purpose
So often staff surveys end up covering multiple goals. As a result, they either become very long or don’t ask sufficient questions to get a conclusive result. By having a single goal for every survey you and your employees will have a much clearer picture of what its purpose is.
6. DO NOT exclude staff from taking part in the survey
While you may not intentionally exclude people from answering the survey if they do not have direct access to the survey their opportunity will be limited. Either find a survey tool that can be sent and filled in via a mobile device or hold sessions in which those employees can have access to the survey. Without this inclusive approach, your results will never be accurate.
7. DO be consistent
If your staff survey will be repeated set specific times for the survey. We are naturally creatures of habit so this familiarity will help with completion rates. If relevant, also include any influence or change that has happened as a result of the previous survey. The reiteration of how the results were used will further build confidence that their time spent filling in the survey will be time worth spent.
8. DO NOT overcomplicate your survey
Keep your questions to the point. Unnecessary or confusing words in a question will increase the effort required to complete the survey. Avoid using any jargon and keep your wording as simple as possible. Make sure there are no double negatives and ensure every question only asks for one thing.
9. DO mix your questions up
Ensure your questions are varied enough to keep your staff interested. While you may want to ask five questions to really drill into what they think about one thing, your employees are likely to lose interest. Also, use a variety of answer choices such as multiple choice, radio buttons and sliding scales. This encourages the recipient to keep focused.
10. DO NOT include too many open-ended questions
While these are useful to give staff an opportunity to expand on a specific point, they also require more effort to answer. As such, many people are likely to skip the question or abandon the survey. They also make it more difficult when analysing the results of the survey. Due to the manual element of needing to review each answer, open-ended answers can become overlooked.
11. DO keep your staff survey questions neutral
Perhaps one of the hardest things to achieve because you are naturally thinking about how the responses will be used. But effective surveys ensure that every question is neutral. Leading questions that demonstrate opinion will influence the results. People will answer the question how they think it should be answered rather than giving their true opinion. For example, instead of asking “How would you rate the success of our management team?” ask “How would you rate the performance of our management team?”
12. DO NOT miss out answers in your multiple-choice questions
If using multiple choice take a step back from the question and ensure you include all potential answers. Think of it on a scale from worst to best and include a mid-way response that enables the employee to be neutral. If it isn’t clear cut include a ‘none of the above’ or ‘other’ option. As a survey participant there is nothing more frustrating than not having the option to select the answer you have in mind.
13. DO ensure you and/or colleagues have the time to analyse the results
Recent research found that only 28% of those responsible for sending employee surveys are completely satisfied with how the survey results are used. Typically, this is often due to a lack of resources or time to fully delve into the results. It is also caused by a lack of buy in from leaders in the business who don’t listen to the insight gained from the survey. Therefore, ensure you have the time to tease out every bit of insight from your survey and ensure point 2 is fully completed before you embark on the survey.
14. DO not forget to communicate the results of the survey and the actions that will follow
The moment staff think survey results aren’t used or listened to is the moment your employee survey participation rate plummets. Once you have analysed the results ensure your share these with your staff and include the outcome of the results. What will happen next? What will change? What are the timescales?
15. DO consider the user experience
A survey that is clunky to complete or visually unappealing will increase abandon rates. You need to make it as easy and as pleasant an experience as possible. The right employee survey tool should do a lot of this for you but always take a moment to fill the survey in as an employee to ensure it engages you and flows naturally.
Staff surveys can cover a vast array of topics from learning and development to cultural alignment. To help you get the most out of your staff survey we have selected questions for the five most common types of staff surveys; professional development surveys, staff satisfaction surveys, employee wellbeing surveys, employee engagement surveys and company culture surveys. All of the questions listed have been chosen because of the quality of the output they generate.
For each closed-ended question consider your pre-defined answer set. Some may benefit from multiple choice answers while others may be better suited to a scale. This consideration combined with the dos and don’ts listed above will help ensure you gather highly valuable insight from your staff.
Questions for professional development staff surveys
Whether you want to understand what your staff need and expect to progress their careers with you, or you want to assess how effective your learning and development programmes are, these questions will help you get the answers.
Questions for staff satisfaction surveys
These are the questions to ask if you want to gauge overall staff satisfaction. They will collate the views, attitudes and perceptions of your staff. A staff satisfaction survey is often used if you suspect an element of dissatisfaction because the results can help to define what that dissatisfaction is.
Questions for staff wellbeing surveys
The following questions will help you understand the level of wellbeing whilst also identifying if there are any opportunities to improve your wellbeing initiatives.
Questions for staff engagement surveys
These questions will help you understand employee engagement by delving into the levels of commitment and drive each employee has for the work they do at your organisation.
Questions for culture surveys
Is the way that your staff view their work environment aligned with your company culture vision? These questions will find out by helping you measure the effectiveness of your corporate values.
With over 15 years’ experience in communications I have seen first-hand the difference strong internal communications can make. I am passionate about helping organisations reap the rewards of an engaged workforce and feel privileged to work for an organisation that has this same passion. We can achieve more when we work together towards the same goals.