Employee surveys can be an efficient and low-cost method of collecting data that can help you improve staff satisfaction and the working environment.
However, conducting an effective employee survey is not as easy as one would imagine, and any mistakes you make can be detrimental to your firm.
You must manage staff expectations up front, then meet them during and even after the survey process. (That is, you have to turn the feedback into action.)
You need employees to be open and honest in their survey replies, so gain their trust and understanding up front. Tell staff why you are conducting the survey, how it will support corporate strategy and what you will do with the feedback. Ensure confidentiality, perhaps by hiring a third party to manage the survey from end to end, so that all staff will feel safe participating and can qualify their responses with verbatim comments, which often provide valuable insight. Try starting with shorter surveys to build your staff’s comfort level.
Finally, develop a thorough communications and follow up plan, knowing when and how you will share the outcome. If you unnecessarily delay delivery of the results, for instance, then employees might speculate that the overall feedback was negative. Or, if managers aren’t coached on delivering the results and how to handle staff’s response to them, employees will receive an inconsistent message that creates confusion and mistrust.
One more thing: be wary of surveying fewer than 50 employees, as such a small sample is unlikely to generate reliable data. Instead, consider conducting focus groups around specific issues with the help of a professional facilitator.