Employee Survey

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Collecting feedback from employees through surveys and assessment systems is an important function of Human Resources. Oftentimes, HR software systems integrate feedback mechanisms into common workflows; in other cases, standalone survey technologies are required. The analysis of data from employees can be used to make business decisions, tweak benefits programs, implement workplace programs, and ascertain the happiness and engagement levels of employees.

In conducting surveys through either automated software applications or personal interviews, great care must be taken to avoid sample bias or question bias. Sample bias can occur if the population sample is not truly representative of the whole population. Likewise, the questions posed in a survey must not be worded in ways that influence rather than elicit responses, e.g., through fallacious "complex questions", such as "Even if your employer were to pay you what you are worth, would you work for more than another five years for the company?"

Automated or not, the surveys should use scales that are both precise and accurate, e.g., a 5-point or 7-point Lykert Scale with a middle neutral position, rather than a crude 2-point "yes/no" scale of the kind used in some customer-satisfaction scales.

Employee surveys, including those that are software-based, are useful feedback tools for the organization to gauge employee satisfaction about the organization and its working environment. Key advantages of software-based surveys is that they can handle large numbers of employees and responses, produce consistent results (without any subjectivity or variability of the kind that can creep into person-to-person surveys) and are cost-effective.

A common example of an employee survey is the employment satisfaction survey which deals with a variety of workplace-related issues, such as benefits, commitment to diversity, and effective communications. The information gathered from such surveys can help to give a clearer picture of employee attitudes and opinions. They are especially useful after a major change in the organization, such as a layoff, an acquisition, or a change in leadership. They can also help employers isolate the root causes of persistent problems, such as low productivity or high expenses. If the employees see that their feedback is truly valued and acted upon, this can start off a virtuous cycle of improvement within the organization. The management should thus use the opportunity to reiterate to the employees that they are taking the latter's concerns seriously and make the effort to use the gathered data to improve the organization. Not only will this create a sense of purpose and loyalty among the employees, it will also provide them with a sense of ownership towards the organization and its future.

Another way to assess employee sentiments is through exit surveys, as leaving employees usually have fewer reservations to express their true feelings about the state of affairs in the organization. Moreover, research has shown that written exit surveys tend to elicit more honest responses from resigning employees than exit interviews, whose awkward nature might lead to a limited sharing of information. The information gathered from exit surveys can be used by organizations to tweak their HR policies and procedures so as to increase job satisfaction reduce costly turnover.
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