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5 min read

Person using phone to answer a survey
Person using phone to answer a survey

How to make the most of your employee survey

You can’t read your workforce’s minds. That’s why the employee survey is a critical tool for understanding and improving the employee experience – yet so few companies get it right! Below, we’ll explain what an employee survey is, its benefits and risks, and how you can leverage this superpower to skyrocket employee engagement.

What is meant by employee survey?

An employee survey is a formal feedback mechanism consisting of questions companies use to gauge and improve anything ranging from company culture to employee engagement. Typically, companies use employee survey software, such as Qualtrics, Culture Amp, or Lattice, to design their questionnaires and gather information.

What are the most common employee surveys? 

Employee engagement survey

An employee engagement survey measures the level at which your employees are involved with and committed to your organization.

Onboarding survey

An onboarding survey is conducted within the first few months of an employee joining an organization, and it seeks to gauge the new hire’s experience of being onboarded.

Exit survey

An exit survey is given to an employee who has decided to leave the company. It provides employers with feedback on how to improve retention.

Pulse survey

Pulse surveys are shorter surveys (no more than 15 questions, typically) that are given in more frequent intervals, such as monthly. They can gauge anything from engagement to workplace culture.

eNPS survey

An eNPS survey requires only one question, though it can sometimes have a second open-ended question for respondents to leave more detailed feedback. This measures employee satisfaction.

Employee feedback survey

Employee feedback surveys are great for measuring satisfaction with or opinions on social events, meetings, or changes in processes. These are quicker surveys, and sometimes, they need only one question.

This social media-style kind of poll post gets high engagement because it's simple (only one question!) and presented in a style that most people are used to by now. It will also only be sent to the relevant people and show up in their mobile newsfeeds to ensure they see it.

Are employee surveys a good idea? Employee survey benefits

Help your employees feel heard

Listening to your employees does wonders for employee engagement. According to The Workforce Institute, 74% of employees say that when their voice is heard, they feel more effective at their job!

Uncover innovation and insights

The power of the employee survey really shone during the pandemic, when many companies were grappling with how to return to the office. BBVA relied on consistent, frequent surveying of its employees to craft its remote work policies. The only way the bank knew how to make its employees happy was through surveying—and it paid off. In 2023, BBVA won Gallup’s Exceptional Workplace Award, a distinction reserved for companies with exceptionally high employee engagement levels.

Improve employee engagement

The only way you can improve a metric is to measure it! And surveys are the most scientific way to measure employee engagement. Everything else is just guesswork. The Workforce Institute also found that 74% of employees feel more engaged when their voice is heard.

What are the risks of employee surveys?

Could breed mistrust

Many employees are already wary of HR surveys, afraid that being honest will get them in trouble. If, for instance, someone gets reprimanded for something they said on a survey, that person (and the rest of your staff) is unlikely to be honest again. Additionally, if your organization doesn’t implement the feedback from employee surveys, your staff will lose faith in the process and will stop participating. 

Could cause survey fatigue

If you ask your workforce to take surveys too often, they’ll stop participating or stop giving quality answers. This is known as survey fatigue. But how many surveys should you send? Qualtrics found that employees want to give their feedback more than once per year; most want to do so four times annually. 

Could produce poor-quality data

If you don’t follow employee survey best practices, sending out a questionnaire could be a waste of time because the data will be poor quality. For example, if you aren’t clear on what you’re measuring, ask leading questions, or over-incentivize survey participation (such as with money or gift cards), you could end up with skewed data.

How to conduct your own employee survey

1. Decide what you want to measure

To keep the data clean, measure one thing per survey, such as employee engagement, team bonding, workplace culture, or productivity. When you’re clear on what you want to find out, you’ll be better able to craft the right employee survey questions.

2. Determine how survey data will be used

The two main questions to answer are:

  1. What will you do with the data to improve the employee experience? If you're not ultimately going to use the survey data to make your employees' lives better and improve your organization, then conducting surveys is a waste of time. Determine who will be in charge of crafting and distributing the survey and how the data will be used to change policies and processes.
  2. How will you ensure confidentiality and (optionally) anonymity? When you ask employees to share their honest opinions, they deserve to know how their data will be used. There is value in keeping employee surveys confidential, meaning the results are kept within the organization and shared only with authorized users. You may choose to take it one step further and make the surveys anonymous, meaning that the results will not be tied to anyone's identity. However, realize that, often, the promise of anonymity is a tough one to keep. 

3. Choose an employee survey tool

To conduct the survey, you'll likely want to invest in employee survey software, such as Qualtrics, Lattice, or Culture Amp. These tools are robust enough to handle creating detailed surveys with multiple-choice, open-ended, and Likert scale questions. 

For simpler, one-question polls, use Flip. This easy-to-use, customizable employee app enables leaders to easily poll their employees in just a couple of clicks. Ask a question and create up to five multiple-choice answers. You can even make the survey anonymous so your workforce feels free to speak their minds.

Regardless of which employee survey tool you decide to use, you can easily distribute the survey link via Flip, ensuring that it gets seen by all the relevant parties in one central place. This is the strategy McDonald’s Germany uses. Previously, they were conducting surveys using paper methods. But by switching to distributing their online surveys via the Flip employee app, they’ve seen response rates of over 90%!

Unlock the power of the employee survey

Your workforce wants to speak their minds. Give them a way to do so that’s structured, confidential, and empowering. The employee survey is an underutilized tool for listening to your staff, understanding their needs, unlocking innovation, and improving your overall company. 
Need some inspiration? Check out these employee survey examples. And if you’re looking for a way to distribute your survey and boost participation, explore what the employee app Flip can do for you and your team.

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