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The 10 Commandments of Employee Surveys

        posted by , December 14, 2012

Most employees dread employee surveys.

They may view your survey as a waste of time or they may fear reprisal for their opinions. Worse, a poorly executed survey has the potential to backfire — shaking confidence in management.

It's important to get surveys right.

A successful survey can enhance employee morale, reduce turnover and improve productivity. They can also identify critical business issues and ideas for improvements.

These 10 guidelines will help ensure that your employee survey goes smoothly.

1. Establish a privacy policy

Make it clear who will see the information submitted, how the information will be used and whether or not the survey is anonymous.

Anonymous surveys are popular because they encourage employees to be candid.

If your survey isn't anonymous you might consider a guarantee that only Human Resources will see the identity of respondents.

2. Be careful what you ask for

The last thing you want is for your employee survey to become a forum for wild accusations, gossip or threats.

Multiple choice questions are safest. Text responses are a powerful way to identify issues and ideas. However, it's important to construct questions in a way that will encourage positive criticism and creative ideas.

The right and wrong way to ask questions

What actions can your team take to build a better workplace?

Does your boss treat you fairly?

3. Design your survey to produce valuable metrics

Multiple choice questions can be used to build metrics and KPIs. These metrics can be used to track the success of employee satisfaction initiatives.

4. Use a survey tool

Survey tools are easy generally easy to configure and deploy. Web based survey tools are generally inexpensive and effective.

5. Carefully communicate the survey

Explain any questions employees might have about the survey up front. Why are you doing it? What will the process be? How will the results be used? Who will see the results?

6. Make the survey mandatory

Optional surveys lead to skewed results — only employees with an issue may reply.

7. Don't waste your employees' time

Long surveys that don't lead to meaningful actions are a waste of time for your employees. Each question should be designed to produce actionable results.

8. Communicate the results of the survey

Employees will see the survey as a waste of time if they don't get the results.

9. Develop and implement an action plan

Develop an action plan based on the survey results and implement it. For example, if employees indicate they have insufficient access to information — launch a series of lunch and learn sessions.

10. Track continuous improvement

With each survey implement actions to improve your organization. Track the results of improvement with survey metrics.

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