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Editor's Note: Companies looking to measure and promote employee well-being and engagement may consider conducting a survey of employees. Surveys can be a quick and cost-effective way of understanding employee sentiment, but before conducting a survey, organizations should communicate the reason for the survey, and have a well-crafted plan in place to communicate both the results and the organization's plan based on these results. This checklist is designed to assist employers considering conducting an employee survey in identifying best practices and having a solid plan in place for disseminating and using results.
When tailoring the well-being surveys to suite your needs, please keep in mind the ultimate goals for the results. If you wish to assess overall culture within your organization, develop questions to probe on multiple aspects of your organization's culture, such as the overall mission, whether the organization or leadership's actions align with the mission, employee safety and feelings of support from leadership, management, and co-workers, etc. You can then look at specific elements related to culture, or you can collapse all questions related to culture to give you an overall score for Organization Culture. However, please be aware of any changes in scales and sentiment in questions within the module when calculating an overall score.
Data should only be distributed (internally or externally) at the aggregate level. Employers should never seek retribution against employees for their responses to surveys. As much as possible, employers should seek to protect employee respondents’ anonymity when taking the survey.
Please keep in mind the survey provided is only a model on which to base your own survey. In no way is the Lawyer Well-Being model survey meant to assess your organization exhaustively on the concepts mentioned.
⃞ Develop the questionnaire: The point of conducting an employee survey is to gather data about employees – their engagement, their well-being, their awareness and use of company benefits, etc. The quality of the data collected depends on the quality of the questionnaire used to collect it. Bloomberg Law has curated a collection of sample forms to get companies started.
○ Keep the questionnaire targeted: Employees are more likely to complete a survey that is short and to the point. Pick the area of interest, and focus questions around that topic.
○ Keep in mind best practices that impact data quality: The following survey design rules are best practices for ensuring quality survey data
□ Do not double-barrel questions: Ask about only one item at a time. If you ask “Does your supervisor give constructive and timely feedback?”, you won't know whether the answer goes with the ‘constructive’ or the ‘timely’, as this question is asking about two different constructs.
• Tip: if the question contains an ‘and’ or an ‘or’, consider splitting it into separate questions
□ Do not ask biased questions (leading or loaded): Biased questions end up with skewed data, so avoid both leading and loaded questions.
• Leading questions generally have a sentiment in the question itself (“How awesome is our customer service team?”).
• Tip: If the question itself has a positive or negative sentiment, re-word it to be neutral (“How would you rate our customer service team?”).
• Loaded questions assume agreement with a question not already asked (“Where do you typically exercise?” without already asking “Do you exercise?”).
• Tip: add an option for “Not applicable” and you solve most issues with loaded questions.
□ Have an option for everyone: Think through survey questions to see if most scenarios are covered
• Tip: Add an “Other” or a “Not applicable” option – this lets employees know that your list of options isn't exclusive, even if you didn't list something that fits them perfectly
□ Ensure that the question wording and any response options or scales match: If you ask an employee to rate the importance of a list of benefits, give a scale of “not at all important to very important”, rather than “agree to disagree”. Matching question text with response and scale options ensures that the survey is easy to understand for employees, as well as easy to analyze for employers.
○ Conduct the survey anonymously: Employees are more likely to give candid feedback if they know it cannot be tied directly to them
□ Collect enough identifying data to make the results usable: Even though the survey should be anonymous, it may be important to collect information like business unit, home office, etc. in order to group respondents and analyze data in a usable way.
⃞ Collect data: You can collect data through multiple channels, but the most timely and cost-effective is online data collection. There are many free survey hosting platforms with online tutorials that make it easy to program your survey and collect data.
○ Be transparent about the reason for your survey: When you invite employees to take the survey, let them know why you are conducting the survey. What do you hope to learn and how will you use the results?
○ Assure anonymity: Tell employees early and often that their responses are anonymous. If you are collecting data about business units, home offices, etc. be sure to tell employees that this data is only used to group responses for analysis.
○ Tell employees how long the survey will be open: Be sure to tell employees in the invitation how long the survey will be open.
○ Send a reminder or follow up: After sending the initial invitation, and depending on how long the survey will stay open and what the current response rate is, consider sending a reminder a few days or a week later.
⃞ Analyze results: This model survey is intended to serve as a foundation upon which you can create a tailored survey to suite your needs. Ideally, the survey you create would be distributed annually, and would allow you to benchmark results year over year. Benchmarking data can provide you with insights over time, such as:
○ potential gaps in communication between leadership and employees;
○ lack of employee engagement in specific areas;
○ issues with the execution of newly adopted initiatives;
○ effectiveness of programs and policies at the employee level;
○ and identifying areas that require resource allocation.
⃞ Communicate the results: With surveys of employees or customers, it is very important to communicate results and plans – it is far worse to ask the question and then do nothing than to have never asked the question in the first place.
○ After analyzing the data, consider sending top-line results to all employees.
○ Also communicate what the organization plans to do as a result of the data analysis. Will more benefits be added because the majority of employees are asking? Will there be a shift in resources due to employee concerns?