8 Tips For Writing An Employee Survey

Employee surveys are a great way to discover challenges your brand faces and opportunities you can take advantage of. If done correctly, you’ll discover ways to move your brand forward and service your customers better. Employee surveys are also great at improving staff morale and staff retention that can help reduce business costs.

However, so many employee surveys are poorly written. This can lead to some not giving the best results for the business and the whole endeavor being a waste of everyone’s time.

So, what are our tips on writing the best employee survey?

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1. Designate A Key Writing Person

Regardless of how many people are involved in the design, there should always be one person who is in charge of the final wording. This prevents a multitude of writing styles being incorporated into the questions that can confuse and distract participants. While this person can take suggestions or feedback from others, the key writer needs to have the final say.

2. Don’t Start Writing Until Objectives Are Complete

The biggest mistake made by writers is that they start with the questions. It might sound like the obvious starting point, but in reality, it can lead to poor responses and bad outcomes for the company. For you to be successful, you need to know why you’re writing certain queries and what you want from the audience. This means creating a set of objectives for the survey and each question. If a query doesn’t meet those objectives, then you’re going to have a failure.

By writing objectives, you’re helping your survey to have a purpose. This purpose can then be marketed to employees as the reason why they’re being asked to take it and this should increase participation rates.

3. Incorporate Company Culture In Your Questions

Surveys aren’t just about your business finding out information from employees, they’re also about solidifying brand culture in the audience. So, when designing, you need to think about the language being used. Is it aligned to the language you use in every day operations around the business? In addition, you have to think about the answers. Are you asking respondents to provide you with answers that match brand expectations? If not, then something needs to change.

4. Think About The Cognitive Processes For The Audience

This is about thinking about how the audience will read and respond to your questions. Part of the process is matching key words to behaviors and traits they experience in their work. Differences in their perceptions can skew results.

For instance, a recent IT leader survey found that 8% of employees admitted to sharing data with unauthorized people. However, research into work habits found that 45% of workers were doing this in emails alone. The reason being that employees don’t always see sharing of data to unauthorized people in the same way that business leaders do. Had the study asked, have you shared data via email before, they might have had more people admit their sharing habits.

5. Be Wary Of Signals You’re Sending Out

Questions aren’t just a way to get information, they’re opportunities to pass on information. If you write a query like “Do you check your emails every thirty minutes”, you’re setting an expectation. Employees might think this is the acceptable norm and therefore either answer yes to please you or start adopting that practice.

Taking advantage of this psychological trick can be useful in some circumstances. However, it can also set dangerous precedents that could harm corporate culture and operations.

6. Don’t Explore Topics You Aren’t Ready For

Sometimes it seems natural to get all the information you can out of one single survey. But this is a big mistake. There might be topics that you’re not ready to discuss, or there are areas of the business under development that shouldn’t be looked at. Ensure you aren’t including these. If it is a hard topic to talk about, it might upset your leaders.

7. Benchmark Questions Are A Must

Benchmark questions are those that can be used to compare your results to previous surveys done internally, or compare to industry standards. These are vital to check the pulse of your business compared to the general industry platforms.

8. Think Like The Respondents

One of the biggest challenges for writers is that they don’t think about the respondent. How are they going to answer the question? How are they going to be emotionally driven by the questions? Will they have enough time for the survey? Getting into that mindset can help you determine whether your survey will actually serve its purpose and meet objectives.


Writing surveys for your employees isn’t easy. You’ve got a lot of criteria for it to be a successful exercise that will help your business to learn about potential challenges and opportunities. However, they are tools that should be utilized. With the right style and using the tips above, you’ll find them indispensable.

Read the french version
8 conseils pour rédiger un questionnaire à destination des employés, click here

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