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Iterating on your survey design and strategy: A facilitator’s guide


This article will give you the resources you need to revamp your survey design and strategy. If you’ve been gathering employee feedback for some time, you may find that your current survey questions are not getting you the feedback you need. Additionally, if your feedback strategy was put together in a piecemeal fashion – for example, “we’ll start with this survey, then consider the next,” which is often the case with fast growth organizations – you might not have a holistic strategy across your feedback program.

To get the most out of your feedback, we recommend running a feedback strategy session internally with your team. Our most successful customers bring together their talent acquisition and development folks, D&I practitioners, and any other “people” people. Depending on the size of the people team, this might mean having representatives from each of those functions, instead of the entire team. The goal is to get everyone together who is a direct consumer and disseminator of employee feedback across the surveys you administer.

Examples of people to include:

  • Owner of onboarding programs
  • Owner of manager and leadership development programs
  • Creator of D&I strategy
  • Owner of employee relations or communications

First, review what you’ve done in the past using a table like below:

 

2015

2016

2017

2018

Candidate

 

 

Onboard

   

Onboard 30 days

   

Onboard 90 days

   

Engagement

P + F

F

P

F

Inclusion

   

Manager Effectiveness

 

*

 

Team Effectiveness

     

Exit

*

**

Individual Effectiveness (360)

 

 

Key:

P – Pulse

F – Full

* - Design change

Walking through what you’ve already done will provide background for those that may have joined recently, and visibility for those that might not be across the sources of feedback you have.

Advanced – you might want to map out an employee’s journey and the feedback the organization receives at each point. Mapping out where there are connections across points of feedback. That might look something like this (for each important theme):

Onboarding

Engagement

Manager

Exit

I would recommend Hooli as a great place to work

I would recommend Hooli as a great place to work

I would recommend this person as a manager

I would recommend Hooli as a great place to work

Hooli motivates me to go beyond what I would in a similar role elsewhere

Hooli motivates me to go beyond what I would in a similar role elsewhere

My manager helps me stay motivated to do my best work

Hooli motivated me to go beyond what I would in a similar role elsewhere

I am proud to work for Hooli

I am proud to work for Hooli

   

I rarely think about looking for a job at another company

I rarely think about looking for a job at another company

 

For most of my time with Hooli I rarely thought about looking for a job at another company

I see myself still working at Hooli in two years' time

I see myself still working at Hooli in two years' time

   

Themes can be the common Engagement questions as listed above, or maybe ‘Values’ if you ask about the organization’s values periodically in surveys, or ‘Manager’ where you ask about a person’s direct manager at different points in time.

Past Feedback

Next, use your previous feedback to inform your future strategy.

Feedback that isn’t serving you:

  • Are there any items that have continually been low drivers? 
    • For example, if a Social Connection item like “Hooli's commitment to social responsibility (e.g. community support, sustainability, etc.) is genuine” is continually a low driver, this might indicate that corporate social responsibility is not a key component of your employee experience and could be removed to make room for more important themes.
  • Are there any items that tend to be confusing? Request a Feedback Digest report from Culture Amp to read the feedback provided per survey, people will tell you what was confusing. You can also review if some questions are skipped or ignored by people, as they may not apply to all respondents.
    • For example, ambiguity might be signaled by an uncharacteristically large neutral population (while this might also signal a lack of clear communication on the theme).

Additionally, you can request a survey experience report. This can tell you interesting information like the average response time for your surveys and language usage.

Themes you need to add/adapt:

  • Are there any themes that continually come up as a recommended focus area that we could dive more deeply into?
    • If you’ve completed a baseline survey and ______ was an issue…

      Consider getting feedback on...

      Alignment

      Values

      Learning & Development

      Individual Effectiveness

      Compensation

      Benefits

      Work-Life Blend

      Well-Being

      Management

      Manager Effectiveness

      Collaboration

      Team Effectiveness

      Large Gender & Ethnicity Differences

      Inclusion

  • Are there any themes that continually come up in comments that are not adequately represented in the rating items?
    • For example, if there are several comments on L&D-related questions about accessibility (for example, time to invest in programs) of L&D opportunities, this could be a candidate for a new item.
  • Are there any themes that are mentioned in the open-ended question “Is there something else you think we should have asked you in this survey?”, or from the Feedback Digest report that people wanted you to ask?
  • Any items that have given particularly useful feedback in one arena that could be applied to another?
    • For example, if there’s an item about management that has provided useful feedback for improving your onboarding program, this might be a candidate to be included in the Engagement survey as well.
  • Are there any hypotheses we’ve wanted to test and our data has not been able to provide an answer?
    • For example, many companies want to understand how engagement changes over the employee lifecycle. But they aren’t asking for engagement feedback at each point (e.g., candidate, onboarding, and exit).

People Programs

Then, consider how your current priorities can inform your upcoming strategy.

  • What are our top 3 people objectives for this year that can be informed by feedback?
    • For example, if you’re implementing role-specific onboarding, you might want to include a new item in your onboarding survey to get additional feedback. Maybe “Given your role, is there any additional training or resources that would have improved your onboarding experience?”
    • For example, if you want to double down on growing your people, are you currently providing individualized feedback through 360s?
  • What are the broader organizational goals? And how can feedback play a part?
    • For example, you may be making a large strategy change and could use some change readiness questions to see where there are pockets of concern that could be addressed with further communication.
  • Anything we want to be communicating as an expectation?
    • For example, if you expect managers to have regular 1:1s with their direct reports, consider adding an item regarding this into your manager effectiveness or engagement survey.  
  • Anything we want to ask about a recent change initiative?
    • For example, an office relocation, recent acquisition, new company values introduced, recent IPO, etc

Putting It Together

Answering these questions should give you a list of notes that might fall into 3 action areas:

  1.     Remove
  2.     Add
  3.     Adapt

Talk through each, ensuring each stakeholder has time to speak, and consider the ramifications of each. Finally, as you make changes, keep the same survey design principles in mind. Such as:

  • Each item you include sends a signal that the theme is up for discussion. Are you including any questions where even if the data pointed to it as a recommended focus, you wouldn’t discuss acting on it?
    • For example, we often see this happen with work/life blend and compensation items. To be clear, it doesn’t have to mean you would act on it, but you would at least have a discussion on if you should act on it.
  • Have you previewed your survey to see what the experience is like for a respondent?
    • For example, having several open-ended questions in a row can feel overwhelming and lead to abandonment. When possible, use rating questions to get quantitative results that are easier to interpret. If you’re having difficulty changing a question into a rating item, reach out to support@cultureamp.com for guidance.

 

Now that you’ve reviewed what may need to be changed in your survey design, consider your overall strategy as well.

  • Are you getting feedback at the right time?
    • Some customers find it helpful to calendar out other “people” activities like: benefits enrollment, performance reviews, budget setting, financial year end, annual/quarterly town halls, manager/leadership development programs, etc. along with their survey cadence. To determine if another time would allow for more time to act following the feedback, or for the feedback to be used as an input to the program.
  • Is your sharing strategy ensuring the feedback you get is being used to inform all levels of the organization?


Now it's time to make some changes. Determine who is the best person to own each next step. Always reach out to support@cultureamp.com if you'd like a coach or people scientist to review your draft surveys and provide feedback.



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