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How to Successfully Conduct Employee Satisfaction Surveys

Best Practices: Employee Satisfaction Surveys

Survey Every Employee

Using a census versus merely a sample of employees in satisfaction surveys is highly recommended. Using a census population will yield more responses than if a sample is used. This ensures data will be statistically valid. Also, at the local level, an employee census facilitates improvement action planning for frontline managers who need their own reports.


Communicating to employees the value of, and the improvements that will result from surveys, are critical in establishing an overall “buy-in”. This buy-in increases response rates and gets employees actively involved in the ensuing improvement actions planning process.

Communication should be done pre-survey, during the survey, post-survey, and between surveys to maximize the messages being sent to different audiences. Managers must advocate the survey through encouragement, proper administration of survey, and a commitment to acting on the results. Employees are heavily influenced by their immediate managers, so it is important for managers and supervisors to believe in the survey if they want their employees to do the same.

Survey Design

  • Questions must include a way for employees to provide open-ended feedback in the form of verbatim comments (e.g. improvements suggestions and ideas)
  • Should be as short as possible (the shorter the survey the higher the response)
  • Questions must be directly related to survey objectives (i.e. no “nice-to-have questions)
  • Questions should be clear-cut and not attempt to lead employees into answering a certain way
  • Should include questions that allow for comparisons with other organizations
  • Considers both the needs of employees and the overall organization (e.g. make survey short but do not omit critical questions for the sake of space)