Most employee surveys address the employee experience, or employee engagement. These surveys are designed to give employees the opportunity to tell their management how they feel. Given all the perceptions and feelings to measure, are these surveys truly accurate?

Unfortunately, the simple answer is – No.

Causes of the Inaccuracy

  • Survey Fatigue

A survey of 100+ questions to address every experience is going to be painstaking to complete. Getting it done and out the way becomes a bigger priority than answering every question with careful consideration. When there’s too many questions, the latter ones won’t get as much intention as those early on. A low rate of completion can also be a common outcome.

  • Too many Surveys

If different departments administer surveys, it’s important to have visibility of what’s in planning and is currently active. Too many concurrent surveys also contribute to survey fatigue.

  • Risk of No Action

Long surveys typically have questions that try to uncover a broad range of employee experiences. There’s no point asking questions where there’s little or no chance of taking action in the event of negative feedback.

  • No clear Goal

There are obvious differences, by example, between surveying for choice of a preferred event vs. an employee experience. However, employee experiences are also broad and diverse, which means that logically grouping them can set a clear priority. Separate surveys could assess categories such as company culture and inclusiveness, personal growth and empowerment (leadership impact), team dynamics, the physical workplace, work-life balance, and tool availability and support to get the job done. Another category is feedback on a specific process, such as onboarding or a new training initiative. Trying to assess all these key experience areas in one survey is an overload for employees, and for the company should there be multiple concerns to prioritize.

Having a clear goal determines the right survey questions.

  • Lack of Incentive

Often employee response rates are poor. It’s also important that you communicate a survey’s purpose, let employees know that the benefit is to improve their experience. It’s about bettering their company life.

  • Assumptions that impact Questions

Your past experiences should not lead to assumptions for the questions asked. A typical example could be recent unwanted resignations. Having identified the cause, this may gravitate most of the question attention towards it. If the focus is purely on assumptions based on past experiences, other influences may never be discovered.

  • Incorrect Analysis of the Results

Your survey results should be approached objectively, even if you see unsettling data. The end goal of gathering employee feedback is to improve the employee experience. This cannot be achieved without first looking at the results honestly and impartially.


Beyond the Surveys:

  • Communicate openly and transparently with your employees about the employee experience survey and the next steps.
  • Take action on the feedback. Review the results with the respective departments and give leadership opportunity to prioritize improvement action. Taking action on any of the feedback gives employees a positive impression that their voice counts.
  • Thank your employees for responding to the surveys. Make this part of your survey culture. On this topic, companies which fall into the top 15% in building a culture of recognition have 46% lower rates of voluntary attrition.
  • By offering employees regular opportunities to provide feedback, you decrease the need to administer multiple surveys. Pulse surveys are a viable option for continuous assessment.

About the Author: Martin Brandt

Martin Brandt is the Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer for JamAngle.