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To understand the needs of your workforce, it’s important to ask the right questions. A mix of questions that require yes/no answers is good to achieve definitive results, but it’s also useful to include ones that offer multiple choice answers or encourage the respondent to provide extra detail about why they feel a certain way.

This data can help managers pinpoint areas to address and raise awareness of issues they may not have considered.

Choosing what to ask in your satisfaction survey will depend on whether you’re running a focused survey or want more general findings. The time you launch your survey may also affect the type of questions you ask, such as if there are seasonal factors to consider or imminent changes to the organisation are on the cards.

It goes without saying that in times of organisational stress, the best employers will focus on reassuring their workforce with focused and transparent internal communications. Any uncertainty, especially around job security, is liable to draw knee-jerk responses from an anxious workforce, so consider launching a survey in calmer waters.

10 ways to improve your survey response rate

1. Pick the right time to launch the survey 
2. Communicate effectively throughout 
3. Have a great user experience and make it easy to complete 
4. Use incentives or competitions (if right for your organisation) 
5. Keep an eye on response rates in real-time 
6. Create time and space for all staff to complete it in work time 
7. Have leaders, managers and champions help demonstrate how important participation is 
8. Ensure people believe and trust the confidentiality of their responses 
9. Only survey at the rate you can take action 
10. Commit to acting on the results 

Most employee surveys focus entirely on traditional workplace topics like engagement, leadership, and manager effectiveness, or lifecycle surveys focus on traditional workplace milestones like onboarding, promotion, and exit.  

When you consider a new definition of employee experience, one that includes the human experience at work, a much broader spectrum of employee listening is required. The ways we listen to employees, gathering their input and perspective, need to change too.

Employee surveys need to pivot to also assess how your employees feel about their preparation for retirement or how they are managing life with a newborn baby. They need to seek to better understand what your organisation can do to help. 

Survey pitfalls to avoid

There are many pitfalls to avoid with employee surveys. Here are some examples of mistakes that can set organisations back in their research, according to employee engagement experts People Insight: 

  • Managers aren’t kept in the loop 

  • Your survey comms falls flat 

  • It launches at the wrong time 

  • A poor response rate 

  • Employee surveys are seen as ‘an HR thing’ 

  • Missing the bigger picture in your survey results 

  • Only sharing the positive feedback 

  • Nothing happens next…