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Employee Opinion Surveys: Top Tips & Experts Guide

Employee Engagement
January 13, 2022
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It is highly likely that you deeply value the opinions of your employees. But, in the workplace where you have so much to focus on, it’s unlikely that you often have the time to personally check in with the people in your organisation to see how they are doing and what they are feeling. That’s why an employee opinion survey can be helpful. 

Your employee’s opinions (a.k.a. feelings) about the workplace have an impact on their productivity, motivation, and engagement, and overall mental health. To create a desirable corporate culture and achieve business goals, your workforce has to be engaged,aligned and motivated to remain focused. 

Here, we will cover employee surveys and provide examples of employee engagement survey questions so you can devise your own. We’ll also talk about how you can improve your employee engagement with the help of wellbeing tools, which enable you to support your team proactively and on a consistent basis. 

What is an Employee Opinion Survey?

An employee opinion survey, also called an employee attitude survey or staff survey, is a list of questions with the goal of understanding employees’ opinions about the workplace. 

The survey helps to provide insight as to your employees’ attitude, motivation levels, job satisfaction, inclinations, concerns, etc. The outcome and insights from the survey will depend on the questions that you choose to include. 

Employers can choose to carry out an employee opinion survey on a continuous basis, or annually. It’s always smart to keep a handle on how your employees are feeling because it can be an indicator of potential employee turnover. 

To maximise your understanding of how your employees feel at any point in time, you can also utilise an employee wellbeing tool like LUME which tracks employee mood in real-time. This way you always know if staff are motivated and happy throughout the year, rather than on a adhoc basis with a survey.

What are the Pros and Cons of an Employee Opinion Survey?

When you create a well-designed and thought-out employee opinion survey, the insights you gather can be incredibly valuable. And, if you use the insights to make actionable changes, then you can achieve astounding results. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t some challenges involved in the process of doing so. 

Let’s take a look at some of the pros: 

1. Employee Retention

Employees who feel seen and heard feel more valued. When employees feel valued and can understand the impact that they play within an organisation, they are less likely to look for employment elsewhere. Therefore, by asking your team for consistent feedback, you can boost the odds of retaining your top talent. 

2. Company Culture

The mere notion of sending out an employee opinion survey will showcase to your employees, and even prospective employees, that you care about the company culture. However, be sure not to commit the fatal flaw below (listed in the cons section that’s upcoming). 

3. Customer Satisfaction

An employee opinion survey is designed for employees, but the far-reaching consequences of them can trickle down to customers. Here’s how: when employees’ opinions are taken into account, then they are more likely to feel engaged with their work. 

Having engaged employees can lead to higher rates of productivity and levels of care, which results in better outcomes in the business. Therefore, customers reap the benefits of more streamlined workflows and open communication. 

4. Decreased Absenteeism 

When employees are stressed at work, they are more likely to experience anxiety or depression, which leads to burnout and sick days. A happier workforce will result in less absenteeism, which saves the business money. 

On the other hand, there are some potential hurdles to overcome with employee opinion surveys, which may include: 

1. False Expectations

To piggyback on the company culture section above, if you conduct employee surveys, then you better be ready and committed to making changes that need to be made. 

Otherwise, you will create false expectations which can lead to resentment and have the exact opposite effect (like turnover) of what you’re trying to achieve. 

2. Biased Data 

Even when employee opinion surveys are made to be anonymous, there still could be bias in your employees’ answers as they may feel the need to respond positively or fear being honest about negative situations. 

Instead, you can rely on an employee engagement tool that will provide a safe space for employees to share their sentiments anonymously and freely. 

3. Outdated Data 

The time it takes to receive the results of these surveys can end up being lengthy to digest. This means that by the time you actually have insights in hand, the sentiments and feedback may be different and out-of-date. 

4. Ambiguity & Reliability

Companies quite often take their own approach to gathering insights and opinions and then evaluating them. This can lead to increased ambiguity and low reliability in the way:

  • questions are understood 
  • questions are answered 
  • answers are interpreted 
  • answers are analysed 

In the end, this can lead to more ambiguity and less reliable information as opposed to science-backed, established and recognised systems that are built for information gathering.

What are the Types of Employee Opinion Survey?

There are three popular types of employee opinion surveys. They include:

  1. Employee opinion and satisfaction survey: used to measure how employees view and perceive the organisation 
  1. Employee culture survey: used to measure the employees’ point of view to deduce how it aligns or misaligns with the overall values of the organisation (or department) 
  1. Employee engagement survey: used to measure how committed an employee is to their work and organization, as well as to gauge an employee’s sense of purpose and passion 

Ultimately, all of these types of employee opinion surveys rely on capturing the honest feelings and sentiments of your employees. But, they are all one and done methods. 

To truly understand your employees’ sentiments, you’ll need to check-in more regularly. To achieve this without hassle, you can incorporate an employee wellbeing tool within your organisation. 

This allows employees to document and track their emotional wellbeing over time to gain awareness of what impacts it and take preventative action to improve it.

Opinion surveys are limited to a snapshot taken from the time of the survey which means it becomes out of date quickly. Surveys also struggle to help you to determine the ‘why’ behind the insight as they can omit much of the context. 

With a wellbeing solution like LUME, you can overcome these hurdles. The tool is designed to uncover the “why” behind the insights. Additionally, all data is provided in real-time, so you can trust that the information you receive about your employees’ sentiments is captured at that exact moment in time.

What is the Role of HR with Employee Opinion Surveys?

When it comes to the implementation of an employee opinion survey, the bulk of the work often sits in the HR department’s lap. 

Human resources earns the buy-in from key stakeholders to deploy the survey, and then, it is up to their team to devise the questions, collect the answers, and perform analysis. This results in a less than optimal and strenuous use of time. It can take months for some HR teams to receive the information they need, and they already may be thinly spread. 

Some companies choose to outsource this work. If you are going to outsource the work, then there are few things to consider when choosing a vendor or consulting agency, such as: customer feedback, pricing, availability of benchmarking data, technology, etc. 

With a wellbeing tool like LUME, you benefit from receiving real-time insights. The questions and analysis have been written by experts and are analysed based on science, so the information you gain is highly valuable. 

However, HR will still likely be heavily involved as they have the strongest pulse on the human resources within the business.

When is the Best Time to Send Employee Opinion Surveys?

Many organisations choose to conduct an employee opinion survey annually. However, it’s recommended to receive employee feedback on a more regular basis. This way, you demonstrate how important your employees’ opinion is to the organisation and are able to be more proactive in supporting employees as the information is more timely. 

When conducting an employee opinion survey, there are certain times when it is ill-advised to send one out. For example, don’t send out these surveys during peak holiday seasons when employees are unlikely to spend time providing responses. 

You can maximise response rates by scheduling surveys during historically slower periods. Additionally, if you send out surveys at the same time you are providing your team with bonuses or rewards, then their responses may be positively skewed as they come off the back of earning more or being praised. Which whilst getting positive responses sounds good, really you are looking for unbiased responses.

Put simply, the timing of employee surveys affects the results. Their feedback can be biased based on the surrounding context of what’s happening at the time of the survey.

That’s why employee wellbeing tools are a great complementary solution. For example, a tool like LUME offers a wellbeing solution that makes it possible for employees to document their moods and what’s impacting them on an ongoing basis. 

Thus, they can begin to recognise patterns and trends with the analysis provided. This also makes it possible for employers to get a wider view of how employees are feeling about the organisation and their work, which can aid in being able to take preventive measures and offer support exactly when employees need it the most. 

How to Design an Employee Opinion Survey?

If you’re getting ready to create and send out an employee opinion survey, then review the following best practices that can help you to focus your employees’ answers and get the most insight from the process. 

1. Keep it Simple

If you develop a survey that is complex and lengthy, then you will impact response rates. It’s optimal to keep survey questions short, simple, and to the point. This way, it helps to avoid confusion. As a rule of thumb, try to keep your employee engagement survey questions to less than 75 questions. It should take employees no more than 30 minutes to finish a survey. 

2. Avoid Two-in-Ones

Do your best to keep the topic separated by questions. If you double-barrel items, such as “pay and rewards” in one question, then the answer may be unclear. Each question should focus on a single topic. 

3. Involve Employees

Organisations can benefit from testing their employee opinion survey on a small batch of employees before disseminating it to the entire organisation. This way, you can garner feedback and rectify any issues before everyone is involved. 

4. Focus the Responses

In order to interpret the results of your survey, it’s recommended to present questions with a scale rating of 1 to 6. If you offer open-ended questions, it could complicate the time it takes to perform analysis on the data. 

5. Keep Questions Focused

While there are some questions that you’d love to know the answers to, there are others that are more pressing. Try to focus your questions on ones that are actionable rather than those that “would be nice to know.” 

6. Use neutral statements

To avoid biased responses, frame your questions with as much neutrality as possible. Avoid writing questions that lead respondents to the answers. For example, instead of asking, “Does your manager communicate well with you?” you can reframe it to “How would you rate your manager’s communication with you?” 

7. Ensure Anonymity

Everyone should be advised that the employee opinion survey is anonymous and confidential so that employees feel comfortable to respond honestly. This could be a benefit of hiring a third party to conduct the survey or using an employee wellbeing platform that can act as that 3rd party and handle it for you.

How To Talk to Employees About Employee Opinion Surveys?

While you could simply send out an employee opinion survey and hope for the best, that strategy isn’t advisable. Instead, you want to communicate with management about the reasons behind why the organisation is conducting the survey in the first place. 

You may even consider developing a FAQ document for them so that if employees have questions, they will be well-prepared to respond. 

After managers and supervisors are aware of the upcoming survey, HR can provide internal communications to share more information with the employees. It’s also a good time to set the expectations and potential outcomes from the survey so that employees know what to expect and are incentivised to respond. 

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What Technology is Best for Employee Opinion Surveys?

In this day and age, it’s more common for organisations to utilise electronic surveys as opposed to printed surveys. The speed and ease of use make electronic surveys more beneficial. 

Furthermore, there are technologies that can help to collect, digest, and interpret the data. For organisations who are looking to gain insight into how their employees feel on a regular basis, you can deploy a wellbeing tool like LUME. 

LUME provides a way for both employees and employers to better understand the opportunities for growth within the organisation and the mental wellbeing of the entire workforce

How To Analyse Results of Employee Opinion Surveys

It’s of utmost importance that organisations do something with survey results. This starts with reviewing the data and then assessing what needs to be addressed in order of importance. 

Once data is cleansed (i.e. responses to poorly worded questions are thrown out), then the organisation can choose how to visualise and represent the data to decision-makers. 

HR should be prepared to have some push-back from management, especially if there are negative survey results. If this occurs, HR should be ready to use data discussions and frame the changes as an opportunity for improvement. 

Again this is where involving a 3rd party or using the right employee wellbeing platform can really help. It’s useful not only to be able to visualise the data, but also to support the narrative around the discussion. 

What Questions to Ask in Employee Surveys? 

Let’s review some common examples of employee opinion survey questions:

  • How challenging is your work?
  • How often do you feel stressed at work in a typical week?
  • How meaningful do you find your work to be?
  • How satisfied are you with the company’s pension contributions/
  • How easy is it to get support from your manager? 
  • How would you rate your company’s sick leave policy?
  • Would you recommend this organization to your family or friends for employment?
  • How satisfied do you feel with your job? 
  • How connected do you feel with your co-workers? 
  • How open to change do you feel the organization is?
  • Do you feel your managers value your feedback? 
  • Do your supervisors communicate company news effectively? 


Closing Remarks

An employee opinion survey offers one tool by which HR and management can better understand the thoughts and feelings of the people within their organisation. It’s optimal to conduct these surveys on a regular basis as processes and the people involved are constantly changing. 

If you’re looking to actively understand your employees’ overall wellbeing on an ongoing basis, consider an employee wellbeing tool like LUME for your organisation.

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