Done correctly, employee surveys can elicit useful information on everything from policies to benefits, proving that it never hurts to ask. Done incorrectly, however, surveys may annoy workers and leave employers with meaningless — or even misleading — information. Here are five things to keep in mind about employee surveys:
1. A survey should help you make better decisions. To understand whether a new product, service or program will be valued or not, ask your workers. After all, they can best tell you, for example, whether they'll appreciate an expensive new benefit or how a new return policy will affect customer service. Any decision that involves your staff makes an appropriate survey topic, as does tapping into the general mood of the workplace.
2. You want to create a culture of dialogue. Most company communication is not directed at employees. Surveys give workers a vehicle — one that usually has a degree of confidentiality — to weigh in on what's going on in the business. And when you ask for input from employees, you're establishing or reinforcing a culture of openness within your organization.
3. Lack of follow-up dooms all surveys. The biggest mistake you can make when surveying your staff is to not follow up on the results. To avoid this error, promptly communicate the survey results and how your organization is addressing issues that were raised. Frequent status updates are important to show your employees that you're sincere about wanting to act on their feedback, which will help pave the way to good response rates on future surveys.
4. Be careful what you ask for ... and about. Survey workers about only the topics on which you're willing to at least consider feedback. Otherwise, employees will become frustrated and morale could plummet.
5. Yes, you can over survey. Once you start to enjoy the benefits of gathering staff feedback, you may be tempted to survey your employees all the time. But be careful. You could create survey fatigue among your workers, symptoms of which include plummeting response rates and sarcastic responses to open-ended questions. So you should also employ other methods to get workers' input, such as focus groups, meetings and informal conversations.
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