Avoiding common pitfalls in staff surveys
A staff survey project needs to well planned and executed as there are several steps involved plus there is a great opportunity for organisations to learn and improve from the results.
The two common problems with staff surveys are:
- They are a mechanical process rather than a focussed investigation
- Nothing happens as a result of the survey
One of the difficulties in staff surveys is helping staff feel that their efforts in completing the survey were worthwhile. Most staff surveys take about 15 minutes to complete and this is a big ask in today's busy workplace.
So in order to raise enthusiasm about the survey completion process make sure that you know what you are looking for. For example don't just roll out last year's survey. Review all the questions thoughtfully to determine that every single item is still relevant. Also consider whether anything has changed and if you need to add new items. Try to limit the number of items to no more than 50 to avoid survey fatigue.
The second most important problem to avoid is inaction or even worse meaningless action. Make sure that you communicate the results to staff and follow up as soon as possible with further probing to understand the data and appropriate action to address the identified issues. Be careful not to overwhelm staff with pages and pages of graphs. Communication of results should be simple and focus on key strengths and issues and next steps in regard to planned action. Actions do not have to be complex or all encompassing. In fact it is useful to look for some quick wins before moving onto address longer term changes.
It is worth paying attention to the relevance of the survey items and follow up action to maximise staff enthusiasm about providing their opinions.