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How to Conduct an Effective and Successful Employee Survey

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I. Understanding the purpose behind surveying employees

A.  Why conduct an employee survey?

To conduct an effective and successful employee survey, we first need to understand why we want to survey employees.  Most organizations decide to conduct an employee survey as a way to improve their business.

Over the last couple of decades numerous research have been conducted that demonstrates and scientifically proves that increasing employee engagement increases the operating margins, profitability and ultimately the value of the company.  There may be other reasons as well for conducting an employee survey.  The first step is to clarify the reasons for conducting the employee survey.



B. What type employee survey to conduct?


The next step is to consider what type of employee survey to conduct.  The type of employee survey will be chosen base on the reason for surveying the employees.

In most circumstances the most appropriate type of employee survey is the employee engagement survey.  When there are significant changes to programs or polices planned an employee opinion survey may make the most sense.  If you are planning to conduct an employee satisfaction survey, I would urge you to consider an employee engagement survey as the costs are similar to run but the benefits from an employee engagement survey our much greater than an employee satisfaction survey.


II. Foundation of a Successful Employee Survey

A. Leadership buy-in

The leadership team needs to agree on conducting an employee survey and committing to following through on recommendations and action items that result from the employee survey.  The leadership commitment needs to be communicated to the employees prior to the survey.  The leadership team needs to obtain employee support for participating in the survey.

B. Trust and Confidentiality

The leadership team needs to create a culture of trust that encourages open and honest feedback.  A key element in obtaining trust is by ensuring confidentiality through the survey process.  The best way to ensure confidentiality is by using a third party survey provider such as EngageYourEmployees.com.  

C. Employee Survey Provider

Choosing an appropriate employee survey provider is instrumental in obtaining valid employee feedback.  When considering employee survey providers ensure that they have the required skills and experience.  The employee survey provider should be an expert in employee engagement, have extensive experience conducting employee engagement surveys and have proven success at creating high employee engagement organizations. EngageYourEmployees.com meets all these requirements and focuses solely on creating high employee engagement organizations.  As well EngageYourEmployees.com provides the best value in engagement surveys by utilizing proven successful employee engagement strategies and leveraging virtual consulting methodologies.  We are not a survey software company; we are an employee engagement company that utilizes state of the art survey tools and methodologies. t;/span>


D. High Participation Rate

Higher employee survey participation rates increases the validity of the data.  Leadership buy-in, trust and confidentiality and the employee survey provider are the key ingredients to ensuring high levels of employee participation.  At EngageYourEmployees.com we strive for participation rates over 80% and usually obtain participation rates in the high eighties to the mid-nineties.  We achieve these high employee survey participation rates utilizing our proven employee engagement survey process.  The EYESurveytm process ensures the following is covered:

§ Communication plan that shares the commitment and importance the senior leadership team places on the employee engagement survey

§ Communication plan that establishes the employee as a stakeholder in the employee engagement survey

§ Communication plan that ensures complete confidentiality and anonymity for employee survey participants (EYE Confidentiality Guarantee)

§ Appropriate time and access to complete the employee engagement survey


III. Major Steps in Conducting an Employee Survey


A. Establish type of employee survey

Along with the senior leadership team determine the reasons for surveying the employees.  This will establish the type of employee survey required (employee opinion survey or employee engagement survey).

B. Select Employee Survey Provider

Be careful when selecting an employee survey provider.  You need to select an employee engagement company and not a survey company.  Make sure the employee survey provider has experience and knowledge in employee engagement.  Be careful that the employee engagement survey that you choose is not just an employee satisfaction survey with a re-branded name.  Employee satisfaction is a subset of employee engagement.  Make sure the provider understands that the survey is the starting point and the most important aspect of conducting an employee survey is the analysis and follow through

C. Establish organizational commitment to employee survey


1. Meet with the senior leadership team to establish the need to conduct an employee survey.

2. Gain agreement with the senior leadership team on the desired outcomes from conducting an employee survey.

3. Educate the senior leadership team on the commitment required to positively impact employee engagement.

4. Ensure the senior leadership team understands that this is a process that impacts the culture of the organization and as such requires a long term commitment.

5. Have all senior leaders sign the EYECommitmenttm confirming their commitment to increasing employee engagement.


D. Establish Employee Survey Timeline and project plan

Set Milestones for the employee survey

§ Employee survey design

§ Employee survey distribution strategy

§ Employee survey communication plan

§ Employee survey launch

§ Employee survey completion date

§ Employee survey reporting and analysis

§ Employee survey results communication

§ Employee survey follow through

E. Employee Survey Design


1. Organizational structure and reporting requirements

How do you want to report out on results?  Do you want to report out by leader?  Do you want to report out by department?  Do you want to report out by job type?


2. Employee Engagement Survey Questions

Need to consider the following elements;

§ Demographics

§ Organizational st ructure

§ Employee Engagement Questions

§ Benchmarking

§ Other questions that address organizational needs

F. Employee Survey Distribution

What is the best method for capturing employee survey feedback?  Electronic, paper based employee survey or a combination of both.

G. Create Employee Survey Communication Plan


1. Leadership Communication prior to employee survey launch

§ Establishes the employees as key stakeholders in the employee survey

§ Outlines the reasons for conducting an employee engagement survey

§ Asks for open and honest feedback and the importance of everyone’s participation

§ Establishes confidentiality and explains the use of an independent third party for collecting and analyzing employee survey results

§ Explains how the information will be used

§ Set’s expectations with employees on when and how the results will be communicated

§ Explains how the employee will be involved in the creation of the employee survey action steps


2. Employee Survey Launch

Manager Communication

§ Clarify the manager’s role in understanding the purpose of the survey

§ Set expectations that the managers must be able to answer questions regarding the survey as well as assist in creating an environment of openness and trust

Employee Communication

§ Re-cap of leadership communication

§ Explains how the employee completes the survey

§ Establishes a deadline to complete the survey


3. During Employee Survey Period


Manager Communication

§ Ask managers to encourage employee participation

§ Ask managers to remove or eliminate barriers to participation

§ Follow up with manager’s who have low participation rates

Employee Communication

§ Reiterate purpose and confidentiality of employee survey

§ Remind employees of the deadline to complete the employee survey

§ Remind employees of the value of their open and honest feedback

§ Remind employees of the leadership’s commitment to acting on the employee feedback

§ Ask employees to share any problems or issues that arise in accessing or completing the survey

§ Update employees on current participation levels

4. Post Survey


§ Thank all employees for sharing their thoughts and opinions

§ Reinforce the importance of employee feedback

§ Reiterate the confidentiality of the employee survey

§ Reconfirm the organizations commitment to following through on the results

§ Share final participation results


5. After Receipt of Employee Survey Results


§ Communicate overall  and local/departmental results

§ Explain how employees will be involved in the action planning and improvement process

6. During follow through period


§ Update all employees on progress and changes implemented as a result of the survey

§ Remind employees of their role in the action planning and follow through process

§ Highlight and recognize employees involved in the action planning and follow through process

§ Remind employees of the senior leadership team’s commitment to the action planning and follow through process

§ Communicate the key areas from the employee engagement survey that will be focuses on and share updates on those items on a regular and consistent basis

§ Share reasons where action will not be taken – be open and honest with employees

§ Highlight the impact of the action planning and follow through process on customers, employees and business results

H. Employee Survey Launch

1. Run a pilot employee engagement survey launch

2. Fine tune employee survey

3. Launch employee survey

I. Employee Survey Results – Analysis and Reporting


§ Have an expert analyze results

§ Determine appropriate reporting

§ Conduct cross tabulations where necessary

§ Utilize a top down approach to sharing results from the employee engagement survey

§ Communicate results as quickly as possible after the employee survey closes

§ Be open and honest regarding the results, they are what they are and the goal is to engage everyone in closing gaps and improving processes leading to a more engaged workforce

§ Provide interpretation of the results using the cross tabulations and benchmarking

§ Use factor regression analysis to highlight the most important areas to focus on

§ The survey gives you a starting point to start the action planning process

J. Employee Survey Action Planning


§ Work with the leadership team to identify priorities from the employee survey results

§ Communicate the key areas from the survey that will be worked

§ Allow sufficient time for employees to understand and absorb the employee survey results

§ Develop a strategy to tackle priority items from the survey

§ Engage employees in understanding the issues and the underlying root causes

§ Involve everyone in developing solutions and recommendations

§ Ensure leadership is engaged and supportive during the process

§ Understand the area of control for priority elements

§ Do not over commit to addressing too many issues, tackle three or four issues

K. Employee Survey Follow Through


§ Create an Employee Engagement Strategy document to communicate and direct employee engagement activities

§ Assign ownership of priority elements to individuals and teams

§ Establish a regular review (Monthly) of the Action Plan by senior leaderships and key stakeholders

§ Communicate successes along the way even minor changes and improvements and link this communication back to the employee survey

§ Provide regular (Quarterly) updates to employees regarding the Employee Engagement Strategy and Action Plan


§ The employee engagement process is a cycle of continuous improvement:  measure>improvement and change>re-measure


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