Best Practices for Survey Question Writing

Employee Surveys

You want to measure the quality of your employee experience, but aren’t sure where to start. Writing and administering a survey is an effective way to gauge the employee experience, and a good survey can provide valuable insights into how your employees perceive your organization. Plus, the data from such a survey can be invaluable in creating action items on areas of improvement. Here are some best practices on how to craft the perfect questions to get the data you need.

A good starting point is identifying what you want to know about your workforce. There are many types of surveys which provide rich data sets that measure the employee voice. These surveys span across the life cycle of an employee from pre-recruiting to exit. Once you know what you want to learn, you can focus clearly on creating a series of concise questions in multiple categories to give you valuable insights into how your staff thinks and feels about their place of work.

After identifying the type of survey you want to create, you need to start brainstorming questions. I say questions but often they can appear as statements, depending on how your want to quantify the answers. For example, “I trust my manager” can be measured with a sliding scale of agreement, from strongly disagree to strongly agree. It’s a good practice to have a neutral option as all your questions may not directly relate to a specific associate or employee set. It’s also a good idea to include a few open ended questions as well as the occasional “yes/no” choice. This helps to break up the survey for the respondent to avoid an overwhelming experience.

As you pool a list of potential questions or items, start thinking about which categories they best fit. Categories can include: job satisfaction, communication, relationship to manager, onboarding experience, etc. You could have 5-8 questions per category, depending on the type of survey you are creating. A good rule of thumb is to have several questions that attack a particular category from different angles. If you decide on a category like “job satisfaction” then you may want to know if the worker is a.) satisfied as an employee, b.) the reality of the job matches expectations when hired, c.) liking the job, and d.) the job using their full set of skills and abilities. This becomes important when analyzing the results as it can give you layered insight with which to create action items.

Once you have finalized your survey it’s time to administer to the identified population you want to measure. It would benefit your company to offer a variety of ways to take the survey; online, mobile, phone, onsite kiosk and even paper. The collection of data and where it lives plays an integral part to analyzing the results and finding trends with which to then create action items for frontline managers to affect the desired change or improvement based on survey results.

A well crafted survey can provide rich data to help your organization with increased engagement, reduced attrition, providing the employee a voice (empowerment) and other benefits as you continue to refine your question writing. Using the results from your survey in a way to create meaningful change is another topic for another day. Until then, good practice and keep writing!

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