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Internal Communications

5 min read

Employee survey: How companies get valuable feedback

What do my employees care about, what motivates or demotivates them? Employee surveys can provide you with answers to these questions. In this article, you will learn what you need to consider when creating the perfect employee survey, what optimal communication of results looks like, and how you can also reach the workforce across locations.

Reason for termination dissatisfaction - what moves employees?

Why should management be interested in the concerns, problems, and wishes of your employees? The answer is drastic: because otherwise, they will leave the company.

A certain fluctuation in the team is completely normal. Employees retire, move, or seek a career change. Termination or transfer originating from the company also occurs. As soon as a specialist leaves the company, high costs of around 35 percent of the annual salary are incurred for recruiting, induction, and training of a successor, among other things. These costs are referred to as attrition costs. However, the financial risk associated with the departure of highly qualified specialists is priceless and difficult to quantify. Managers and HR managers must finally recognize the value that employees represent for the company.

But why do employees really leave?

Salary is rarely a reason for employees to quit. Rather, employees who want to quit do not feel sufficiently valued (76 percent), experience poor internal communication (70 percent), and identify deficiencies in the corporate culture (43 percent), as the consulting company Harbinger has compiled from several studies on the subject. Increasing employee loyalty and living more feedback and appreciation in the company should therefore be a top priority.

Why employee survey?

Employee surveys are an unbeatable tool for gauging employee sentiment, gaining important insights into processes including suggestions for improvement directly from operational teams, and drawing valuable conclusions about employee satisfaction. The management of many companies has recognized this: According to a study of 200 leading companies in the DACH region by the Ruhr University in Bochum, the proportion of companies that conducted regular employee surveys increased by around 20 percent between 2007 (64 percent) and 2017 (81 percent).

Specifically, employee surveys lead to the following results:

  • Measure satisfaction and motivation of employees
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses of their own company
  • Receive suggestions for improvement directly from the respective experts
  • Measure the impact and efficiency of new processes, programs and guidelines
  • Receive feedback for managers
  • Recognize grievances and dissatisfaction in the team at an early stage

6 + 1 tips for the perfect employee survey.

Analog or digital? Annual or monthly? Thematic or more general? There are a variety of approaches available to you for conducting and communicating your employee survey. Our tips will help you avoid common mistakes, identify the best survey method for your company, and get helpful results.

1. Determine target group and stakeholders in the company

Before you conduct the survey, you should first determine which employees are to be surveyed - from individual groups of people (by age, professional direction, area of responsibility) to individual or multiple departments and the entire team. Also, work out who will benefit from the surveys and in what way, and who you need to involve in your planning: Management, HR managers, works council as well as data protection officers.

2. Define the goals of the survey

Just like target groups and stakeholders, you should define the goals of the respective employee survey. Are KPIs to be measured? Do you want to gather internal feedback on new projects and processes? Do you want to better understand your employees and their wishes and problems? Only if you define the goals of the survey in advance, you can ask the right questions.

3. Determine format and frequency

There are various formats available for employee surveys. You can also get creative with the regularity with which you conduct surveys. Whether short impulse surveys e.g. in the context of conferences or meetings or snapshots supported by a tool, mood barometers in a weekly rhythm, page-long questionnaires at the end or beginning of a year or topic-specific surveys over an entire year. A clever mix of the various formats is a good idea here - e.g., longer surveys in a regular cycle, combined with short surveys interspersed from time to time.

4. Communication of the evaluation and what happens afterwards.

Don't let the results of employee surveys go unnoticed and unused in the company archives. This does not necessarily mean that you offer your employees a complete evaluation directly after the survey. First and foremost, address the number of participants and their development, motivate and encourage the team to actively participate in future surveys. Break down specific results according to the individual departments and communicate them to the respective management. Subsequently, the results should be evaluated in the teams.

In any case, you should also back up your words with actions. This means that you actually address the problem areas raised in the surveys and inform your employees with the greatest possible transparency about the further course of action and current change processes. Otherwise, your credibility will suffer in the eyes of your employees and their enthusiasm for feedback and participation in surveys will decline.

5. Hand in hand with the works council

The central group of people in an employee survey are the employees. In order to address their sometimes deep-seated problems, it is advisable to involve the works council in the survey process from the very beginning. The works council is then available to employees as a point of contact for questions about data protection and procedures and, as an employee body, creates trust.

6. Ensure data protection and anonymity

Data protection is a top priority when it comes to employee surveys. Especially in the case of digital surveys or service provider-supported procedures, it is important to ensure DSGVO compliance. Be sure to clarify the following questions:

  • Whether and if so, where and how is collected data stored?
  • How long will data be stored and how will it be processed?
  • Who has access to the data?

You should also pay attention to ISO 27001 certification in connection with external providers, as this allows conclusions to be drawn about data security standards.

Create a safe space for respondents and assure them that the data collected will be handled confidentially. Employees must be assured that negative answers in surveys will have no consequences and therefore have the opportunity to give their answers anonymously. Particularly in the case of open-ended questions with a free-text field, it can be useful to provide non-anonymized feedback in order to have a contact person, especially for process-relevant topics. Online-supported employee surveys, therefore, offer survey participants the option of removing anonymity themselves from free-text fields if they wish.

Bonus tip: Employee surveys are more effective than ever - thanks to the employee app.

Distributing surveys to employees by e-mail is simple and practical, and avoids unnecessary amounts of paper. However, you won't reach all target groups in the company with an e-mail. In particular, operational employees in the warehouse, on the production floor, and on the sales floor in retail or the wards of medical and care facilities usually do not have their own email addresses.

However, this group makes up about 80 percent of the global workforce.

With an employee app, you can reach all employees - immediately and across all locations. Since none of the employees have to use a terminal PC or paper forms for the survey, you achieve a high participation rate. Employees can take part in surveys with just a few clicks, and you receive immediate feedback directly via the platform.

In this way, you can identify problem areas even faster, give your employees a voice, and support a positive corporate culture. You can also receive direct feedback and suggestions for improvement via surveys using the employee app as a modern tool for internal communication in general.

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