The number one question we hear from new clients is, “what should I ask on my employee survey?”
And if you google this, you’ll likely find lots of lists – all with very different questions. So, what are the top questions every survey needs to ask? Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to employee surveys. For your survey to be effective, a generic survey won’t do the trick. Rather, we recommend you start by focusing on your strategic priorities; these are the issues critical to the organization’s success, and should be reflected in your survey. For a manufacturing company, this might mean a focus on safety. For a technology company, it might be more about innovation. But we don’t make any assumptions. At OrgVitality, the first phase of any project is to engage leadership in these kinds of discussions.
Still, there are types of questions that wind up on most of the surveys we administer. Here are some of the top few, with an explanation as to why we use them:
[Related Webinar: What The Heck Are Your Employees Thinking, And Why You Need To Care]
Unique strategic questions
Like we said above, the entire survey should reflect your organization’s strategic priorities. Specifically, think about the topics keeping leaders up at night, and how employee insight might help. This might include feedback about your unique market or customer needs, or barriers to success. It might also involve whether the company is making the necessary changes to compete well.
Getting the work done
You’ll want questions about an employee’s day to day reality; what goes smoothly and allows them to work well and what might go poorly or create frustrations and barriers. This might include questions about process efficiencies, working across groups, or having clear standards and accountabilities.
Manager and peer relationships
Think about who an employee works with, and the quality of those relationships. You’ll want to cover things like respect and dignity in manager relationships, manager support for growth and development, and inclusion and support within peer groups.
Engagement and intent to stay
Engagement is a key topic on most employee surveys. You’ll want to solicit feedback about an employee’s overall attachment to the company, and how they see their long term future. You can achieve this by asking about the pride they feel about the work they do and the company they work for, as well as asking if they see a promising future for themselves in the company.
Company culture and values
Think about what the company stands for and the values that employees are expected to uphold, then ask employees how well the company actually aligns with these values or missions. You can ask for things like the company’s contribution to communities. Another important topic area is ethics, and whether an employee feels able to report issues.
Taken together, all these items can be useful to understand the full picture of an organization. When you write the items, you’ll want the survey to feel authentic, so carefully consider the tone, the phrases you use, and what images you feature. Crafting an effective survey takes work, but done well, it can be a powerful tool to help you leverage strengths, identify opportunities, and ultimately improve organizational effectiveness.
Continue Learning With: Top 5 Employee Survey Trends
Dr. Victoria Hendrickson is a partner and vice president in the consulting department at OrgVitality. She works to strategically design and administer employee surveys, customer surveys and linkage research. Across these tools, she works to gather data that helps leaders address their organization’s unique strategic challenges and to present findings as an insightful story that guides meaningful change. Victoria comes to OrgVitality with a background in organizational development and leadership development. She conducts applied research on topics of survey comments and organizational ambidexterity and regularly presents at national and international conferences. Victoria received her undergraduate degree in Social Psychology from Saint Mary’s College of California, and her Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology at Alliant International University.