Five Recommendations to Improve Employee Satisfaction Surveys

How to Obtain Trustworthy Results

business man and woman select happy on satisfaction evaluation? And good mood smiley and evaluate
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Employee satisfaction surveys and facilitated focus groups help employers identify areas of employee satisfaction and dissatisfaction. You are able to design the questions yourself, but there are specific aspects to avoid. You should ensure the surveys are anonymous, have a purpose, use random participants, and ask focused questions.

If you question your ability to design a satisfaction survey, you can opt to hire someone that specializes in surveys. Professional survey firms have databases of questions developed from years of satisfaction surveys in different organizations.

Anonymity Is Important

Confidential surveys—if actually confidential—are tools that can provide realistic feedback on a workforce, culture, and company. Surveys can gather useful, quantifiable data that gives leadership a visual representation of the mindset of their employees.

To be an effective measurement tool, employees need to feel comfortable with responding truthfully. Anonymous surveys reveal a workforce's true opinions. If survey results have been used against employees in the past, they will be reluctant to be truthful about them again.

Companies that are employee-oriented are unlikely to use the information gathered against their employees. If you start with and use a transparent process, without repercussions, employees will learn that their employer can be trusted to use the information in their best interests.

Hold Satisfaction Surveys at Work

Employee surveys should be conducted at the place where they work. If the surveys are not taken in the workplace. If you feel the need to have employees take a survey elsewhere, then it is demonstrating that there is a deeper problem that may need to be addressed. It shows you don't feel that they are comfortable being truthful in the workplace.

Defined and Published Purpose

There should be a defined and published purpose for a survey. Ensuring that there is a purpose gives employees another opportunity to feel as if their input will matter and that the survey will be used to improve the work environment.

Use Randomly Selected Participants

Employees should never self-select to participate in an employee focus group or survey. Leaders should also not assign people to take surveys. Surveys should either be all personnel or randomly selected to ensure that there is a reliable sample of the workforce being surveyed.

Focused Questions

If you develop satisfaction survey questions internally, you should evaluate them to make sure the questions are not leading, vague, or easy to misinterpret. You should try to focus on gathering the opinions of your employees with your questions by keeping them oriented on issues that are important for employee satisfaction.

Some issues that are traditionally important for employees are feeling like their work matters, feeling as if their input is valuable or if they are equipped to deal with daily tasks.

Try not to give more than one example in a question. This is sometimes referred to as a double-barrel question, such as "Is your manager's door always open, and do they give you the time you need to address your concern?" This question is not going to give an ideal response as it is unclear which question to answer.

The manager may have an open-door policy, but be dismissive of employee concerns. It would be more useful to break the question into two to receive an answer to both.


There are many ways to conduct employee satisfaction surveys. You can use a simple paper and pencil survey, design an online survey, use the services of a survey company. A much more sophisticated process such as a software platform that provides analysis using artificial intelligence is available also.