Getting Feedback You Can Depend On: Poor Employee Survey Design May Be Stifling Your Response Rate and Limiting the Effectiveness of This HR Tool. (Employee Relations)
Garvey, Charlotte, HRMagazine
Increasingly, employers are surveying their workers in an effort to create more effective, productive workplaces. But many of these surveys may not be giving employers a true picture of employees' experiences. As the use of surveys becomes more widespread, employers must focus on survey design and execution so their efforts will yield useful information that pinpoints problems and helps management address them.
Employers are using ineffective methods to survey employees, says Palmer Morrel-Samuels, former professor at the University of Michigan and president of EMPA Inc., a consulting firm based in Ann Arbor, Mich. The results can include shrinking response rates as well as useless information, making the exercise an expensive waste of time.
"Surveys as a resource are being inappropriately pressed into service to answer questions that are irrelevant, trivial or not suitable," says Morrel-Samuels. He cites a survey that asked employees how they felt about the company's cafeteria service. "Surveys should be used for making important business decisions and finding out what employees have to say. There are far more pressing issues than whether there are enough lunch trays," he says. In fact, he adds, asking irrelevant or trivial questions "actually reduces response rates. It turns people off."
Designing, administering and appropriately using the results of an employee survey is a complex process, but consultants and HR managers offer the following suggestions for achieving success.
Take a Step Back
Whether you need to tune up an existing survey or build a new survey from scratch, you should start by asking why you are doing the survey in the first place. "For some clients, it's a big 'aha' just to step back and ask that question," says Patricia Bayerlein, a consultant with Chicago-based Matha-Macdonald, a consulting firm that works with Fortune 500 companies. Determining the "why" can help you "ask the right questions so that you get something that's prescriptive and not just descriptive," she says.
For Roche Diagnostics Corp. in Indianapolis, a division of F. Hoffmann-La Roche of Basel, Switzerland, the focus of a recent employee survey was employee turnover. Roche's HR managers noticed a spike in employee departures in 2000 during the height of the dot-corn boom. "It seemed like an open door," says HR manager Elizabeth Gruszczyk, SPHR. She and her colleagues decided to implement a …
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Publication information: Article title: Getting Feedback You Can Depend On: Poor Employee Survey Design May Be Stifling Your Response Rate and Limiting the Effectiveness of This HR Tool. (Employee Relations). Contributors: Garvey, Charlotte - Author. Magazine title: HRMagazine. Volume: 48. Issue: 3 Publication date: March 2003. Page number: 80+. © 1999 Society for Human Resource Management. COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group.
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