Two managers discuss documents in a well-lit office.
Surveying employees is one of the most common ways to gain deeper insights into what’s working well and where there are opportunities to improve. — Getty Images/kate_sept2004

Managers need to understand how employees feel about work to create a more productive and positive environment. Surveying employees is one of the most common ways to gain deeper insights into what’s working well and where there are opportunities to improve.

Whether it’s about company culture, workflow, or other processes, here are some effective ways to survey your employees and turn those results into actionable strategies to improve the employee experience.

Methods of surveying

Surveying your employees involves asking them a series of questions to get their input on certain topics. There are several types of surveys that managers can use to gather information. Determining which one is the best suited for your company’s needs depends on what kind of information you’re seeking.

  • Performance reviews. Whether conducted annually, quarterly, or more frequently, a performance review gives employees and managers the chance to assess job performance. Part of the review process often includes a self-evaluation survey prior to an employee’s discussion with a manager.
  • Employee engagement survey. Engagement surveys measure how involved and valued employees feel by their organization.
  • Employee satisfaction survey. This type of survey collects insights into how happy employees are with their current work situation and generates ideas on where and how things can be improved.
  • Exit interview. This survey is conducted at the end of an employee’s tenure with the company and allows them to share their overall experience and what can be improved upon within the organization for future employees.

[Read more: 8 Popular Small Business Survey Tools]

Why surveying employees is important

There are always ways that a company can improve its operations and processes for its employees and customers. Managers should constantly be looking to make positive changes; however, they may not know what to prioritize. A survey allows leaders to find areas of high importance and low satisfaction that they can focus on improving. This helps them dedicate time and attention to what matters most to employees to create a better work environment.

Surveys can also create a safe environment for employees who do not feel comfortable directly sharing negative feedback with their superiors or colleagues. Others may not be able to give an honest or thorough response to a question when asked on the spot.

Surveys can create a safe environment for employees who do not feel comfortable directly sharing negative feedback with their superiors or colleagues.

How to survey your employees

Choose a topic of focus

When surveying employees, start by choosing a topic on which you want to gain insight. This could be an employee’s specific work experience and performance or a more general, companywide issue. It’s best to keep a survey focused, rather than asking about a lot of different topics.

Determine how you’ll deliver the survey

Once you identify a topic, you need to determine the best medium for conducting the survey. Many companies opt to have their employees take surveys online through email or survey sites such as Doodle, Survey Monkey, or Google Forms.

These platforms give managers the ability to make responses anonymous, which encourages employees to be more honest and open with their feedback. Surveys can also be administered as a physical form that employees fill out by hand and return. That can also be conducted in person (or on a video conference) in an interview-style conversation.

Structure your survey

There are multiple ways to build and structure your survey to elicit the information you want to know. In written surveys, you can present questions in a short-answer response format, a checkbox list, yes/no questions, a ranking system, or a multiple-choice menu. Short answers are often preferable because they allow respondents to articulate their thoughts and feelings in as much detail as they feel comfortable providing. However, when that kind of feedback is not desired, questions with limited, defined answers can be the more effective way to go.

Set a deadline and share results and follow-up actions

Employees should have a clear deadline for responses to be submitted. Once all the responses have been collected, review them. Then, when appropriate, share the relevant insights with your team at large, as well as how the company plans on addressing the findings.

[Read more: Are Your Employees Really Engaged? Here's How You'll Know]

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Published May 09, 2022