Creating a great employee survey isn’t easy at all. Each organization is different and each needs a different approach. In this article, however, we have selected a few general principles and procedures that can be applied in the vast majority of organizations.
You need a high return rate to get people to take your survey seriously. If you have a return of only 20%, for example, you can no longer talk about a survey, but rather a poll. The results are then not representative, and relying on them for decision-making can be quite a bad idea.
We at Arnold recommend aiming for a return of at least 65%, however, in our experience, really good business surveys can have a return of around 80% or more.
Surveys in some companies end up looking like a mishmash, because too many people are trying to get their ideas into them, and the survey implementer is perceived as the person who simply directs and moderates their efforts.
However, with great surveys, the role of the implementer is different – they are the guarantor that the survey will make sense to those who fill it in precisely because it is relevant to them.
The second most common reason for low returns is very simple – filling out a survey is a lot of work. You have to click through a barely functioning form that has completely deleted itself for the second time, you can only connect to it using the company network, you don’t really know what some of the questions are actually asking , and the whole thing takes some 30 minutes. And maybe all you wanted to do was to tell the company that you like the new strategy.
If you have a high return rate, congratulations. But your work shouldn’t end there.
It’s now about making sure people say things honestly and openly (and not simply answer the way you or their supervisor wants them to answer).
If you succeed, the collected data will be of great relevance and value to the company.
If employees feel that it’s safe for them to open up and speak frankly, they experience a feeling of so-called psychological safety. This is key for their answers to have depth, and can really help managers or the organization. But how can you achieve psychological safety in an organization where you have no control over what will happen to the results and how, for example, the employees’ superiors will react?
Most often, surveys are done anonymously. But this often makes them toothless – half of the people on the team want to receive more information, the other less. You can only guess at how communication needs to be reconfigured. At Arnold, we’ve discovered a smart way to achieve greater psychological safety – to give people the choice of how much they want to protect themselves, whether or not they want to answer anonymously.Arnold’s smart anonymous mode allows people to choose for each question whether to answer using their own name or just as a member of a certain team.This is absolutely essential if we want people to answer as openly as possible.