Conducting employee experience surveys on a regular basis is critical for HR teams, because it helps them gain an understanding of what employees are happy about, as well as gauge their biggest frustrations. But not all surveys are created equal, and often, the way a survey is executed can shape the responses received.
If you're surprised by some of the answers you're getting or don't feel like your employees are taking the survey seriously, it's worth considering the factors at play leading up to and during the time your workers filled it out.
Here are four common mistakes HR teams make when conducting employee experience surveys that may hurt their effectiveness and accuracy, and how to avoid these errors:
1) It's Too Long
If you're using an online survey tool to collect responses, it's easy to track how long the process takes. Alternatively, you can also ask employees to time themselves. If you find that the survey is taking more than, say, 30 minutes to complete, it could be a sign that it's too long. Data from SurveyMonkey shows that the more questions in a survey, the lower the average completion rate.
This may explain why some employees aren't taking it seriously—they want to fly through it as quickly as possible. To ensure this doesn't happen, re-evaluate the questions you're asking and eliminate any that aren't absolutely necessary. Multiple choice or true/false questions can sometimes suffice, too—SurveyMonkey data also finds open-ended questions are correlated with a lower completion rate.
2)The Interface—and the Questions—Are Confusing
One clear sign that employees are confused by the experience survey is that they start asking you questions. Clarity is critical, because because confusing questions may lead to inconclusive results.
When employees don't understand what a question is asking, or don't know how to use the survey tool, their responses may not accurately reflect their feelings, which isn't valuable. Plus, if employees are too focused on figuring out what you're looking for, they're not going to have enough time to answer your survey with confidence. If you're using a new survey tool for the first time, offer to host a tutorial on how to use it. And, review each question in the survey yourself to ensure that it's clearly-worded and precise—it might even be useful to run it by a colleague not taking the survey for a third-party, clarity-focused review.
Ensuring clarity doesn't mean you have to be afraid to ask tough questions that could lead to brutal honestly—just be sure to ask them directly without beating around the bush.
3) The Timing Is Off
Don't share a survey with employees when they're ready to head out for the day—it's a surefire way to ensure it gets buried below other emails, and ultimately forgotten until the last minute. Take a look at past survey results to evaluate when most of your employees completed it (an online survey tool should automatically store this information), and try to share it with them around a similar time of day or week.
If in the past survey responses have appeared to be rushed and answers weren't clear or relevant to what was being asked, it could be because you shared it at the wrong time. You don't want to give a survey during the height of a busy day or week—it will not only increase stress, but could also have a negative impact on how employees feel about their experience at that time.
4) Too Few Employees Are Participating
Another key mistakes HR teams make is drawing conclusions based on too few survey responses. The experience of a handful of employees doesn't necessarily reflect the experience of your entire workforce—there has to be a significant percentage of participants before HR can pick up on any helpful trends.
Incentivize workers to take the survey by offering a reward. You can raffle off a small gift card and award it to a random participant, for example. And ensure that workers across the organization are taking the survey, not just managers or lower level employees. Experience may vary greatly depending on the role, and you want to see a balanced representation before assessing trends.
While there are several pitfalls HR managers should avoid when conducting employee experience surveys, survey effectiveness boils down clear, concise and thoughtfully-executed questions. When you pay attention to the kinds of questions you're asking, the answers you're receiving, the length of time it takes to complete the survey and when you first share it, you can optimize your employee experience surveys to reach their fullest potential.
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