staff engagement survey

Conducting a staff engagement survey: 9 Errors

Employees are a key resource of every company.

You can have a huge amount of assets, but without professional staff who believe in your business and are ready to give a part of themselves to its development, it will be very difficult.

According to a study, 63.3% of the surveyed companies admit that retaining employees is more difficult than hiring them.

More than a third of employees are currently actively or passively looking for work. This state of affairs is forcing American employers to spend $2.9 million a day on finding staff to replace.

That is why companies spend a huge amount of money on staff engagement research annually. Getting direct feedback from employees is an important component of the successful and close-knit work of the entire team.

It is important not only to interview employees but also to listen to them. This will make it possible to find weak areas and timely to eliminate them.

The survey allows you to see non-obvious things. Perhaps the real picture is significantly different from the views of top management. After all, “ordinary” employees often know how everything really works and feel the mood of the team.

Conducting competent research places employees and increases loyalty. This is due to the fact that the staff feels the importance of their opinion, especially when they see that there are improvements.

At the same time, most HR specialists make typical mistakes during the survey. In this article, we will talk about the 9 most popular of them and how to solve them.

1. Application is too long or short

“No one likes lengthy polls. They take a lot of time. For this reason, most employees do not like survey days.

On the one hand, respondents receive about 100 questions, which is very tiring and takes away working time, which could be used to close important projects.

On the other hand, laborious questionnaires overwhelm the personnel department, loading all the working time for about a week. It all depends on the size of the company.

But stress cannot be avoided here. The second side of the problem is conducting too short polls that make it impossible to see the big picture.” – Explain Essay writer specialist.

The solution 

The solution to this situation may be to conduct surveys several times a year. This will help to relieve the personnel department and will not bother the staff so much. Agree, the difference is significant between answering 10 questions once a month or 100 questions once a year.

You can further relieve the HR department by automating part of the survey process. Use automated PDF report generation to provide both employees and HR with individual reports and team reports.

Application is too long or shortEmployees will be happy to read a personalized report, speaking to them directly. They receive immediate advice and feedback, instead of having to wait weeks until they can have a meeting with HR.

The HR team receives an immediate overview of the team dynamics and trends, ànd an individual report per employee. They can easily discover outliers and act on them.

This way, the survey process is shortened significantly, eliminating frustration for every party.

2. Bias and manipulation in matters

A staff engagement survey involves open communication. Get ready to receive different answers. They do not have to be positive. Even negative employee experience is a potential growth area for a company.

According to studies, companies whose employees are highly involved are 22% more profitable. However, only 33% of employees feel involved in the work. 

Try to keep your questions neutral. Do not influence the opinion of the survey participants. A biased formulation is a way of manipulation aimed at obtaining a specific answer.

An example of a similar question: “Is your immediate supervisor truly experienced and highly professional?”

There is a suggestive tone here. It is difficult for staff to give a negative answer. After all, an employee may be afraid that he will be asked to give arguments, but he is not ready for this.

The solution

Try to exclude the emotional component when writing questions. It makes it difficult to build trust. To find out the true level of employee engagement, give preference to neutral wording.

For example, we reformulate the above question to the phrase: “How would you rate the managerial qualities of your immediate supervisor?”

3. Too many open questions

Open-ended questions give a complete answer. However, this is not always appropriate. People can write answers at random with a lot of open-ended questions.

Just to complete the survey faster. Highly involved employees can write a lot of text that is difficult to compare and reformulate into conclusions in the future.

The solution

Try to limit the number of open-ended questions used in the survey. Ideal ratio 1:7. For 7 closed questions, 1 open is provided. Also consider if there are enough time resources to analyze, evaluate and record the total amount of data received.

They are necessary steps for processing responses. Only after they can be used to plan further actions. Think about acquiring a survey tool to (semi)-automate the data collection process.

If time is short, then exclude open-ended questions. Just think over the closed ones so that the answers received correspond to the possible ones.

Or ask participants to share their impressions at the end of the survey. You will get one open question – one answer.

Too many open questions4. All or 80% of the questions are required

It is worth remembering that the company is primarily interested in the employee survey. The staff is less interested in the task. Therefore, try to simplify the process for employees as much as possible. For example, limiting the number of questions.

It is worth making so that there are no more than 10 pieces. The second option is to ask them in a larger number but to save the participants from a mandatory answer to some of the questions.

So you guarantee that the survey will be approached responsibly. This will increase the confidence level of answers. In the presence of a large number of compulsory questions, people often quickly close the survey or do not send the completed questionnaires at all.

The solution

Suppose you need to get an answer to a large number of questions for a specific reason. You can perform the task in another way.

It will be much more effective to conduct a survey in several stages. You can further reduce the burden on participants by dividing the questions into groups or segments.

If this solution is not suitable due to limited time or budget, then rank the queries. This eliminates less important ones.

You will reduce the number of questions, which will ensure greater accuracy of the data received. If there is still a lot of them, then mark those that you can not answer.

5. Not enough answer options

When developing questions, HR specialists add definitive answer options. The respondent needs to answer yes or no.

However, there are cases when an employee does not have a clear answer and would like to say “I am at a loss to answer” or “I don’t know.” By adding the option of extended answers, you get more accurate results.

Be open and friendly, do not demand from employees more than they are ready to give. According to studies, 91% of surveyed employees said that for them, good communication is one of the most important criteria for choosing a job.

The solution 

When compiling the questionnaire, be more understanding, turn on empathy. This will help a lot. Have your questions reread by a colleague and make sure that you are not restricting an employee or pushing him.

The questions and make sure that you are not restricting an employee or pushing him. For example, not every person wants to indicate gender, because he wants to remain anonymous. You encourage the employee to respond honestly by adding the option “other” or by making it optional.

6. Not speaking the language of the respondent

Questioning is somewhat similar to communicating with the last user. There is a message that needs to be conveyed. You record it. Further reading, analysis and perception of information occur without the participation of the author.

Adding a large number of terms to questions increases the likelihood of misinterpretation. If you know the definitions, then it is not a fact that they are known to employees. Terminology can make matters worse. As a result, employees will choose an answer at random.

The solution

Replace highly specialized terms with simple words. Try to simplify matters as much as possible. Available wording increases the likelihood of receiving honest answers. Speak the language of the employee.

7. Lack of survey objective

This error is a consequence of the low involvement of the HR specialist in the business process. If he does not understand the role of employees in the results of the company, then he has no desire to receive quality information. The survey will be done to maintain calm superiors.

The solution

The preparation of the survey should be preceded by research. One of the most important steps is the definition of a goal. Understanding what the survey is for, you can understand what it should be.

Not for all purposes, one questionnaire is enough. You may need 2 or 3. Other goals do not require a questionnaire at all and can be achieved by simply reading reviews of the company.

Explain the purpose of the survey to the respondents in the description of the questionnaire. So employees will understand what information you are trying to get.

Lack of survey objective8. Ignoring Employee Segmentation/Grouping

Each employee is valuable. This is an absolute truth. Therefore, attracting workers of various categories and levels to the survey is a great idea. It is important to consider that the interpretation of the results should be carried out with mandatory segmentation.

The motivation of the leader and the technical employee is very different. What is important for the mid-level manager may not be of radical interest to the head of the department.

Therefore, you cannot mix the information received. Misinterpretation of data will lead to depreciation and inefficient use of valuable resources.

The solution

Try to divide employees into several categories. The criterion can be any. For example, you can segment employees by the level of responsibility, or ability to influence decisions.

Next, generate response statistics by segment. So the obtained data will be able to globalize and better study the factors of involvement of personnel at various levels. And the problems will become more distinct.

9. No Management Feedback

According to studies, 51% of surveyed employees say that their leaders at work refuse to communicate with subordinates. Openness and honesty are two pillars of an effective corporate culture.

Making it better is possible only by providing timely feedback from managers. So the company tells employees in which direction to develop.

The staff knows where to go next. At the same time, the manager gets the opportunity to help subordinates to cope with difficult or crisis situations.

The solution

The rule is also valid for polls. After receiving the answers and analyzing them, share the results with the staff. Tell us about the complexities and benefits of engagement that were discovered.

Share troubleshooting plans. Openness and the presence of feedback from management increases the staff satisfaction index.


The engagement survey is an important stage in the work of HR managers. This allows us to understand how loyal the staff is to the company and ready to recommend it. This is important for your employer branding.

Therefore, if you want to timely find problem areas and maintain employee motivation, conducting regular surveys is inevitable. Prepare questions in advance and if you do not allow the above errors, then you will certainly succeed.

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