Employee Surveys

Skill level: Intermediate, advanced


Employee surveys help an organization to learn about the satisfaction of its workforce and the issues affecting employees most. If repeated over time, surveys can also help measure the progress and impact of improvements.

Employee surveys typically include one or more of the following categories of questions:

  • Employee engagement
  • Management
  • Company strategy and objectives
  • Job satisfaction

When conducting employee surveys, use great care in planning the questions, following up, and protecting the anonymity of employees’ responses. Service organizations that are inexperienced in conducting employee surveys can take advantage of the many third-party companies with considerable expertise this area.


  • An anonymous way for employees to provide feedback to management
  • Can be used to benchmark against other companies (if similar questions are used)
  • Can measure improvement over time if questions are repeated
  • Source of valuable information for management on which actions will be most valued by employees

How to Use

  • Step 1.  Determine the list of questions to ask. Although brainstorming can help, make sure you have well thought-out objectives for the survey so that the questions will result in useful responses. Also, be sure to collect demographics information that will be useful later in data analysis. For example, if your organization is divided into multiple service units, you might want to collect that information as part of the survey.
  • Step 2.  Determine who will receive the survey, how long you will give them to respond, how you will collect the responses (for example, via a website or paper form), and how the data will be compiled.
  • Step 3.  Conduct the survey.
  • Step 4.  Analyze the responses and report the results. If your survey included open-ended questions or invited employees to write in comments, be sure to report the responses in large enough groupings so that the identities of the respondents cannot be determined.

Relevant Definitions

Not Applicable


A healthcare company decided to conduct its first employee survey. Along with several other objectives, it wanted to find out if employees felt recognized by their managers for their performance. It was also interested in determining the employee impact of upcoming investments in several systems and tools. Therefore, two of the questions included in the survey were as follows:

  1. When I do a great job, my manager recognizes me.
    • Strongly agree     Agree     Neutral     Disagree    Strongly disagree
  2. I have the tools I need to do my job.
    • Strongly agree     Agree     Neutral     Disagree    Strongly disagree

In the case of the first question, responses were over 70% favorable in all areas of the company except for one. Responses from a specific business unit showed only 50% favorable. As a result, the company launched an action plan that included training managers in that business unit on appropriate methods for recognizing employee performance. The following year, the survey results showed marked improvement in this business unit.

In the case of the second question, the company had hoped to achieve a 90% favorable response rate. In year one of the survey, the result was only 65%. However, after the new systems and tools were implemented, there were 94% favorable responses, which helped to demonstrate the value to employees.


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