The Secret Behind Good Company Surveys – 4 Golden Rules to Consider

Image: Mooshny/
Image: Mooshny/

Companies that regularly survey their employees can learn a lot about the strengths of their own organisation and identify hidden weaknesses. However, in order to carry out surveys with a high response rate and meaningful results, you should follow some basic rules. In this blog post we’ve compiled the four most important ones for you.

1. Keep It Anonymous

Let’s begin with one of the most popular counter-arguments given by survey critics, namely anonymity. According to the reasoning of the sceptics, the significance of an anonymous company survey is limited since employees do not have to stand up for their feedback in front of their colleagues or managers and don’t have to live with the consequences. Thus, anonymous surveys lead to an indifferent response behaviour or even irrelevant destructive feedback.

However, the opposite is the case. Anonymous employee surveys are a form of dialogue, which gives employees who are more reserved in their daily work the opportunity to contribute their ideas and suggestions. We mentioned the example of project monitoring in our last blog post and how discussions and meetings take place in the day to day running of a project. Time is limited and in the end it is always the employees and managers with the greatest sense of mission that talk the most. Shyer employees, who often have enormous expertise and a great sense of judgment, are rarely heard. Thus, the assessment of a project is a bit one-sided. On the other hand, anonymous surveys complement meetings and give you a neutral picture based on the honest feedback from all parties involved.


2. Keep It Short

Company surveys are not like detailed scientific research. Their aim is to generate impetus, not to carry out market research. Keep the questionnaire short so that you can answer it in one to two minutes. As a rule of thumb, do not ask more than ten questions and make it so that you can answer the question with one or two clicks. Our solution for project monitoring uses a smiley system which is not only fast, but also fun. Test your survey on some people before it goes live. If the test persons require more than two minutes, you need to further fine-tune your questions.

The survey’s shortness is of paramount importance. You can only count on high and regular participation from your employees if the effort they have to put in is minimal. Generally speaking, the response rate should be about 60-80 percent. A lower participation is a clear sign that your survey is too long or that the questions are not relevant. If this is the case, you’ll need to go back to the survey and further optimise it.


3. Remain Consistent

Consistency in surveys is based on two aspects: Your employees’ feedback will not show its full value until you derive optimisation measures from it and then implement these measures. In order to check whether the measures have led to the desired improvement, conduct another employee survey. It is about establishing a cycle – a closed-loop process of employee feedback and ongoing optimisation.

It is best to get this process firmly embedded into your organisation by consistently surveying your employees at regular intervals. Chose your survey rhythm depending on the time horizon of your initiative. A weekly rhythm works best for urgent and short-term projects while monthly or even quarterly intervals are sufficient for long-term initiatives. Make sure to dedicate enough time for the implementation of optimisation measures based on the collected feedback – and to review the impact of these measures through a new survey. If you stick to the second rule and keep the survey short, the time each employee needs to dedicate is less than two minutes. Keep your survey consistent. At least 90 percent of the questions should remain the same so that you can evaluate the feedback and reactions over time.


4. Show Focus on Action

Our customers such as Anglo American Platinum use employee surveys to monitor complex projects. Organisations are facing major changes, especially in the context of digital transformation. Employee feedback is an important source of information to identify risks and possible weaknesses. But please keep the first rule in mind and keep all information always anonymous – even if the feedback gets tough. Take the results of your surveys serious and demonstrate to your employees that it pays off to participate in employee surveys. Improvements should be made based on your employees’ feedback right from the beginning. It is only if you show focus on action towards your organisation that you can count on high participation in surveys and increase your employees’ motivation.

Our project monitoring solution automatically generates optimisation measures based on employee feedback, which can be directly assigned to the respective employees. This results in concrete improvements and ultimately a standardised process that becomes second nature to your organisation.


Summary: Dialogue within the organisation is an important building block of modern leadership. Give your employees the opportunity to contribute to your company success with their own ideas and suggestions for improvement. Regular surveys are an efficient tool for obtaining meaningful feedback. Keep your survey short, remain consistent and seek to implement the feedback subsequently. We would gladly help you to formulate your questions. Write to us or start your free trial of Surwayne today!

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