Employee experience (EX) surveys matter. According to a Gallup 2017 study, only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs. As a result, Gallup advises organisations to become more employee-centred and listen to what people need to increase their potential.

There’s a link between EX and employee engagement – the better employee experience, the more motivated and engaged your employees will be. Employee Experience surveys can measure an employee’s entire workplace experience, from the first impression to exit. An EX survey can help your company identify what makes your employees tick — and what needs improvement.

“It’s important to measure employee engagement and experience,” says Alexandra Drottler, EX Program Manager and Senior Insight Consultant here at Netigate. “We know that engaged employees are more productive and more profitable for a company.”

In this article

    The Employee Experience Survey checklist

    So what do you need to have in place before? Communication before, during, and after is crucial, as well as explaining what you’re going to do with the results. In other words, you need to make the purpose of the survey crystal clear so that you get buy-in from the employees participating.

    Here are 5 simple steps to follow before conducting an EX survey:

    1. Purpose

    In order to create a clear purpose, you need to answer two important questions:

    • Why are we doing the survey?
    • How are we going to use these results?

    For example, one reason to do an EX survey could be to motivate employees by giving them a venue to share their opinions. Another motivator could be to measure employee satisfaction and commitment, either in the entire company or a specific department like sales. The purpose of this survey can be to look into the workload, teamwork, employee well-being, etc. in order to find ways to keep employee satisfaction high and reduce turnover.

    Regardless, says Alexandra, before doing an EX survey you need someone who can take ownership of the process. This ensures quality and that everyone knows what to do. This can be someone from the HR team or a specific person in charge of a department.

    2. Communication

    Have the questions from the former step in mind when you are telling the employees about the survey: “Why are we doing this and what are we going to do with the results?”

    Alexandra explains that communicating before sending out the survey will increase the response rate. When the employees understand the purpose, they are more likely to share their thoughts and honest reactions. If you’re distributing the survey via email, you should include various points in the message to reduce misunderstandings.

    Things to include in the message:

    • The purpose of the survey
    • Previous actions taken on other surveys
    • If the survey is anonymous or not
    • How long it takes to answer the survey and a deadline to submit responses

    “In the dream scenario, I would like the surveys to always be non-anonymous because then you can really take action for each individual,” says Alexandra. “The downside is that you’re unlikely to get totally honest answers. That’s why open-text answers are a good compromise because people can put in answers voluntarily.”

    She also mentions that the data must always be kept confidential so that the answers cannot be linked to a specific individual in the workplace.

    Don’t forget to show the big picture and remind people that by answering this survey, employees can make an important difference towards a positive development at their workplace.

    3. Employee Experience survey design

    EX is a broad concept, including all the touchpoints during the employee’s time at a company, from the hiring process to onboarding to departure.

    Survey type:

    The best would be to do a mixture of all surveys during an employee’s time at your company. Here are some examples of EX surveys you can start with when using a VoE software:

    • Onboarding survey: gives you feedback on the employee’s perceived experience of their first days at the company
    • Employee satisfaction survey: measures employee concerns and needs at the workplace in order to keep employee satisfaction high and reduce turnover
    • 360-degree survey: an effective way to measure employee strengths and weaknesses
    • Follow-up survey: to follow up on the previous survey, often more focused on a specific group or issue
    • Exit survey: when employees leave your company, you can do an exit survey to find out why they left and get important feedback for future improvements.

    Types of questions:

    To get the most out of the results, have a mixture of life and work questions combined with multiple-choice and open text questions to learn why the employees answer and think the way they do. Scale questions (“On a scale of 1-5…”) are also a good way to measure employee attitudes and opinions over time.

    Depending on what kind of EX survey you’re sending out, you should customise the questions to the different departments at work. If it’s an EX survey concerning larger groups or the entire workforce at the company, the questions could be more general.

    “In the follow-up survey, you should not address all departments with the same questions. If there’s a problem in the marketing department, for example, we should only address those questions to that department,” says Alexandra.

    Survey length:

    Shorter surveys are generally more beneficial than longer surveys. If a survey is shorter and it doesn’t take too long to answer the survey, it will generate more responses from the employees.

    Test your employee experience survey:

    You should test your survey before sending it out to your employees for several reasons; for example, to measure how long it takes to answer the survey or to get feedback if the questions are relevant or should be changed. It’s also good to test the survey to identify possible problems or find mistakes before you distribute it.

    Let’s consider the example of an employee satisfaction survey. If it’s a survey for the sales department, customise the questions for that department. How do employees feel about their workload? Do they feel like they can reach the company’s set sales goals? Secondly, a mix of open text questions and scale questions is appropriate to get as broad answers as possible, with a few follow-up questions in the end. Again, keep the survey short and concise.

    4. Create a timeline for your Employee Experience survey

    Time doesn’t stand still in a company – employees come and go, new policies are added, and company culture develops. This is why you should have a long-term plan before doing an EX survey. Create a timeline and depending on your resources, conduct the surveys at least every half-year or even every quarter to get more frequent answers from the employees.

    Create a timeline:

    • 1. when you’re sending out the survey
    • 2. when the survey ends
    • 3. when the results should be analysed
    • 4. when an action plan should be defined based on the results

    Consider also the audience for the survey – for example, younger employees tend to be more used to getting feedback, so they may be open to more frequent surveys, says Alexandra.

    5. Action and follow-up plan

    You should do the action planning on both the team and company level. Show your employees that you have read and understood the feedback from them and that they feel heard and seen. Share the results and continue to have open communication with the employees.

    “In order to work with your specific result, you need to get it on a lower level. The mistake could be that you just present the overall result to everyone. So if you’re in the IT or Marketing department they might think ‘ah, that’s not my concern, cause in my team it works like this’,” explains Alexandra. “But if my manager gets the result for our specific team and says, ‘hey, this is what it looks like in our group, here’s what we should do to improve our way of working’, it’s more applicable for us.”

    Company level:

    Put a strategic plan in motion for the whole company. For example, you might find out that you need to work on the company’s internal communication or competence development.

    Team level:

    Different departments and teams should make action planning depending on their results. This can be done on a lower level and should be planned within the department. Since different departments have different goals and challenges, this is a good way to create both short-term and long-term improvements.

    Example of short-term goals could be to create a common communication platform in the team or start having weekly meetings.

    “You should absolutely follow-up on all these actions. Otherwise, you will just talk about it, and then nothing will happen” says Alexandra.

    If you don’t follow up on the results from the employee experience survey, the team will start to wonder why. Always communicate if you’re going to do something. As well as explaining why you cannot action on some insight. If a survey showed that the company’s sales target demands are too high, you should look into that and open up for discussion in the team. Make the employees feel seen and heard, and you will start seeing change and long-term get a higher level of employee satisfaction and thus keep employee turnover low.

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    Make things start happening needs dedication

    “There’s no solution that suits every company. Every solution is unique, as the company itself,” says Alexandra. “If you really want things to start happening, you should put in the time and effort to do this.”