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Five Commonly Asked Questions on Employee Surveys

Posted by Strothers, MS, Elaine at Monday, 06/11/2012 8:46 am
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Five Commonly Asked Questions on Employee Surveys
David Chaudron, PhD

1) Why should I survey my employees?

Often, there is either information coming from the grapevine that something is amiss in the organization, or that identified problems have reached a point where management must do something.

Other reasons include that listening to employees is part of the companie’s values, or that increasing size and complexity has caused a loss of the “family feel” the organization used to have. Part of the loss maybe due to the mergers and acquisitions the company has partaken in over the years.

You may have concerns about losing key people and want to determine the problems in your culture and climate that might cause them to leave. Finally, your organization has not done one before, and you wish to find out what’s on employees’ minds.

2) What’s the best schedule for a survey?

The easiest way to schedule a survey is to work backwards. For example, if budgets are due in November, goal definitions in October, and strategic plans in September, you might schedule survey recommendations to come in August, and start planning the survey effort in May.

3) What kind of questions should we ask?

Questions fall into five broad categories: questions about the organization, such as pay, vision, clarity of mission, perception of senior management, cross-functional teamwork and the like; questions about a team, such as cooperation, meeting management, dealing with conflict; management style, such as communication abilities, encouraging teamwork, and listening skills; job-related, such as authority, job clarity and equipment needs; and finally, specific evaluative questions, such as benefits, use of databases, and health plans. The above is just a small list of the kinds of questions that can be asked. Working closely with your consultant is the best way to narrow down and define what questions are best for you.

4) What methods should we use to ask our questions?

There are five methods: “scaled” questions, open-ended questions, focus groups, observation and reviewing archival records. These do not have to be used all at once, but sequentially. It’s usually best to start with scaled and open-ended questions, and then use focus groups and observations to clarify the issues identified with the scaled items.

5) What about asking pay questions?

This is the most commonly asked question of us. First of all, the purpose of a survey should be to identify what issues exist and to address them: It doesn’t mean that everyone will demand a pay raise, nor should management automatically give one when that is a concern.

It’s been our experience that pay is rarely an issue: Usually there are higher-priority concerns on people’s minds. Another point to keep in mind is that if pay is an issue, it needs to be addressed.

Top five questions taken from

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