Employee surveys are invaluable tools for organizations striving to build an employee-first culture. According to the 2024 State of the Sector report, 75% of employers use employee engagement surveys, while 47% use pulse surveys.

Surveys give companies insights into employee sentiments and help improve employee retention and happiness. However, to maximize the effectiveness of surveys, you must follow best practices to ensure clarity, confidentiality, and ideal outcomes.

In the wrong hands, employee surveys can do more harm than good. That’s why we’ll explore best practices for conducting employee surveys that yield meaningful results and empower team members. Let’s get started.

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Employee survey best practices

Employee surveys are only as effective as the practices used to implement them. Oftentimes, the way you handle surveys can be the key difference between employees viewing them as a routine process or an instrument for growth.

1. Establish clear objectives

Before launching a survey, it’s important to define what you hope to achieve and the information you want to obtain. This will guide the survey design process and ensure the data you collect aligns with organizational goals.

  • Define the purpose of the survey. Is it to assess overall job satisfaction, gather honest feedback on initiatives, or identify areas for improvement?
  • Set OKRs. Determine the key metrics you want to measure, such as engagement levels or perceptions.
  • Tie them to broader goals. Align survey objectives with KPIs, organizational goals, and values to maximize impact.

Make sure to communicate the survey objectives clearly. The clearer their understanding of the survey’s purpose, the more effective the survey will be.

2. Protect employee confidentiality

Workplace confidentiality is one of the biggest obligations employers have to their workers, so protecting it in surveys is paramount. Employees need assurance that their responses will remain confidential. Otherwise, their survey responses will be based on fear instead of honesty.

Clearly communicate to your team the measures you took to safeguard their privacy throughout the survey process, from data collection to analysis and reporting. This will help reassure them that their feedback will be used constructively, whether you’re conducting employee engagement surveys or development surveys.

To promote confidentiality, consider using employee engagement survey software with robust data security measures. Employee feedback should be anonymized by default — no buts. Forcibly accessing the source of each feedback does nothing but jeopardize your employees’ trust and should be avoided under any circumstance.

Putting your employees’ confidentiality first shows them your commitment to creating a supportive environment where they feel safe to share honest opinions.

Employee Satisfaction Survey

(Source: Canva Creator)

3. Use the right survey questions

For employees to give answers that can make an impact, the questions themselves need to be meaningful.

The types of questions you ask will determine the effectiveness of the data you collect. Here are some guidelines for crafting effective survey questions:

  • Be specific. When it comes to survey questions, direct and predictable wins the race. Avoid ambiguous questions that may confuse respondents, as these will only yield unreliable data. Focus on asking clear, specific questions that address the topics you wish to explore.
  • Optimize questions based on the survey format. Some questions may be more complicated to answer, depending on the format. For instance, if you’re conducting an in-person survey, you may have more elbow room with how you deliver questions since you have the benefit of subtext. On the other hand, for written formats, your questions will need to be more specific.
  • Organize questions logically. Arrange survey questions in a logical sequence. Start with general questions before easing into more specific topics.
  • Balance close-ended and open-ended questions. Close-ended questions provide quantifiable data and are useful for spotting trends and comparing responses. On the other hand, open-ended questions give insights into sentiments and experiences.

4. Encourage participation

Encouraging employee participation helps ensure surveys yield representative data. To maximize participation rates, emphasize to your team the impact their feedback can have on organizational decisions.

Use various communication channels like emails, Slack conversations, and team meetings to promote the survey and generate awareness. You can also offer incentives like gift cards or extra time off.

Timing is key — schedule the survey at a time when employees are least likely to be overwhelmed with work. It’s also a good idea to actively address their concerns or questions throughout the survey process.

5. Act on feedback and follow up

Not acting on the feedback puts all the effort into creating the surveys to waste. Taking action demonstrates a commitment to listening to your employees, which drives positive change.

Upon receiving survey results, it’s important to analyze the data promptly and identify trends and opportunities. From there, develop an action plan that outlines steps to address concerns.

Additionally, schedule follow-up surveys at regular intervals. Frequently measure employee engagement and the impact of implemented changes.

Bonus: Use the right tools

A hidden sixth employee survey best practice is to lean on technology to help. There are numerous tools for measuring employee engagement like Lattice, Qualtrics, and OfficeVibe. But, if you’re looking for a way to customize the way you garner employee feedback, you might enjoy our virtual Stand-up tool. 

Hubstaff Tasks Automated Stand-up tool

Hubstaff’s automated daily Stand-up tool helps teams share their feedback with helpful features like: 

  • Customizable questions. Create custom questions for your team to answer, decide which ones are mandatory, and deploy them to your team to gain new insights.
  • Create custom reminders. You’ll never forget to follow up and collect Stand-ups from your team. Scratch one thing from your to-do list with custom reminders from Hubstaff Tasks.
  • Receive asynchronous feedback. Cut down on meetings, one-on-ones, and other challenges of working across timezones with Daily Stand-ups.

How to design effective surveys

Effective surveys gather data that provides meaningful insights into employee perceptions and experiences. Here are key steps to follow when designing surveys:

  1. Define survey objectives. Identify the goals and objectives of the survey to ensure alignment with company plans and priorities.
  2. Identify the target audience. Determine the specific groups of employees who will participate in the survey. Tailor topics and questions accordingly.
  3. Choose the survey format. Select the most appropriate survey format based on factors like workforce size, available technology, and employee preferences.
  4. Align questions with objectives. Each question needs to align with the objectives of the survey. Avoid asking unnecessary or irrelevant questions. These questions may distract or overwhelm respondents.
  5. Test the survey. Before deploying the survey, test it with a small group to identify any issues with the flow of the survey or the wording of any of the questions. Use feedback from the test to refine the survey.
  6. Provide clear instructions. Clearly communicate instructions on how to complete the survey, including deadlines or timelines for participation.

A good survey will effectively capture feedback, generate actionable insights, and support informed decision-making. As a result, employers will be better equipped to enhance employee satisfaction. 

How often to conduct surveys

Determining the frequency at which you conduct surveys is a balancing act.

On one hand, gathering feedback in a timely manner is important. On the other, frequent surveys can lead to survey fatigue, which can have negative effects like low response rates.

The frequency of surveys may vary depending on factors such as organizational goals, the pace of change within the company, and the nature of the survey topics.

Conducting annual or bi-annual surveys can provide an overview of employee sentiments and track long-term trends in engagement and satisfaction. However, for more time-sensitive issues like changes in company policies, more frequent surveys may be necessary to capture real-time feedback and adapt accordingly.

You must also consider your organization’s business cycle. If you conduct employee surveys during a stressful time can impact the quality of the responses. Always ask team members about their preferred survey frequency and collect feedback on how to improve the survey process.

Techniques for analyzing survey data

Survey analysis is a prerequisite for determining the next steps. To effectively analyze survey data, here are some analysis methods:

  • Quantitative analysis. Use statistical methods to analyze quantitative data collected from close-ended survey questions. These included calculating averages, percentages, or correlations.
  • Textual analysis. Analyze open-ended survey responses using text mining or sentiment analysis techniques to extract topics from qualitative data. This method is useful when you conduct employee engagement surveys.
  • Trend analysis. Track employee survey results over time to identify changes in satisfaction levels or engagement scores.
  • Benchmarking. Compare survey results against industry benchmarks or previous survey data to assess progress over time.
  • Data visualization. Use charts, graphs, and other visualizations to present survey data intuitively.

Having a tool that lets you access valuable workforce insights enriches the reporting process. Hubstaff shows you workforce metrics like productivity trends, time spent on meetings, and work time classifications.

Hubstaff Insights

This information allows you to perform tasks like employee engagement survey analysis backed with reliable data.

Supplement employee engagement survey data with workforce analytics to identify workflow inefficiencies, drive process improvements, and keep job satisfaction at optimal levels.

How to implement changes based on survey responses

Start by prioritizing the most pressing issues or opportunities for change based on the survey findings. Consider factors like the magnitude of the impact and the feasibility of the implementation.

Next, develop an action plan that outlines specific strategies and timelines. Communicate with relevant stakeholders to gather input and ensure your organization is aligned. Then, communicate your action plan to your employees.

Make sure to address any and all concerns raised by team members. It’s also important to encourage them to be involved and offer ideas. This process is continuous — so be open for feedback before and during implementation.

Finally, closely monitor the impact of the changes through KPIs and follow-up surveys if necessary. Stay open to suggestions throughout the process because you never know when an employee can present a brilliant solution.

Conclusion

Employee surveys can be a catalyst for growth — but only when used right.

Don’t make the mistake of launching surveys with a singular focus on profits. For instance, employee engagement survey results will mean nothing if the intention behind them is solely to create engaged employees. You have to prioritize the well-being of your employees above all else. 

This will result in poorly optimized surveys and even poorer response quality. Plus, this projects an image of selfishness, which can then tank employee morale.

Instead, be thoughtful about your team when conducting surveys. Consider them a chance to earn your employees’ trust and, more importantly, a chance for you to start enhancing employee engagement and develop into the leader they need.

Category: Culture