Employee surveys can be costly mistakes

Despite the heading, I do not advocate ditching your employee survey.  Employee surveys are great ways to find out globally what your employees think about your organisation. Finding out how bought into your vision, values, mission etc they are is useful.

The problem is that a survey can become a big elephant in the room. It can create even more embedded views by the very people who should be advocating your business.  If your employees feel obliged, or even worse cynical about completing an employee survey, then you should be picking this up from the survey results or lack of them.

I once ran a survey for an organisation about how well a team was doing “living” their vision and values.  One of the values was, “Employees views will be surveyed about how well we are doing.”  You would think that the team would rate that quite well, given they were going through an exercise which was doing just that.  But no, about a third of the employees voted negatively. The team weren’t living up to that value.   You can’t get away from the fact that their denial was pointing to a deeper problem.

I have heard many managers dismiss people surveys.  If they don’t believe in them, well you can’t blame their staff.

Characteristics of a failing survey

So if your employee survey displays any of the following characteristics, my advice to you is to ditch it and start again.

  1. You have a lower than 70% return rate
  2. The focus of the survey is to get a good response rate
  3. If more than 50% of your employees state in the survey that they don’t believe something will be done about the results of the survey
  4. If your managers believe that surveys are a waste of time
  5. Following the survey, there is no real or lasting research or work completed on the results
  6. If the questions on the survey don’t actually tell you anything meaningful
  7. If you don’t give your employees dedicated time to complete the survey
  8. The employee survey is your only means of getting employee feedback
  9. If you dismiss even one single response in the survey as being a whinge
  10. If your managers don’t understand or aren’t mature enough to deal with the negative results from a staff survey and turn it into a positive experience.

I hope you found my list useful.  If you have any reasons to add or any views, I’d love to hear from you.

I help leaders develop self- mastery, helping them to become confident in their own inner guidance.

I collaborate with leadership experts, managers and HR professionals to help them get their own message and unique services and products to a wide audience.