Why employee surveys don’t work

You are in the HR department and you are trying to provide some insights into the different aspects of your employee experience.

The last yearly survey results indicate that employee experience seems intact. And yet, the CEO is worried, many managers are approaching HR for your assistance to assist with employee retention and you are just baffled — how can this be? we are providing all the compensation and perks in the world!

So what is exactly wrong with employee surveys?

Asking the employees how they feel is important — the positive psychological effects of asking employees’ opinions might not be enough these post-COVID-19 days to gain a good understanding of what is exactly is going on.

Survey frequency & length

– Sending surveys too frequently will lead to low response rates and
falsified results
– Sending surveys not frequently enough will lead to a partial understanding of what is actually going on
– Surveying when it’s too late– when employees that do have something to say has already resigned
– Asking too many questions — will lead to a ‘survey fatigue’ where
employees will at most answer randomly

Asking the wrong questions

It is very easy to ask the wrong questions that responses can be subjective, not qualitative, and actionable

“Does your manager respect work-life balance?”

“Does your manager recognize and reward good work?”

These are all badly phrased questions that will lead to a biased and non-actionable survey

Providing the wrong options

Netflix has changed its rating system because of the bias introduced by the star rating system. Netflix has discovered that with the star system people rate movies low — BUT watch those movies10 times over and over.
Netflix concluded that the star rating was actually asking the viewer his quantitive opinion and not about his enjoyment level.

How many times have you personally rated a score of 1 or 5 to a restaurant, hotel, product, or viewed one? We humans, tend to ‘average out’ when it comes to quantitive results


Are you willing to ask your employees questions your executives might not like the answers to?

Some examples:

– How many days a week would you prefer to arrive at the office?

– Would you trade your office seat for home equipment?

– Where do you want to work from — HQ, a nearby satellite office?

– What would be your best ride-sharing transportation?

– What perks are most beneficial to you?

These preferences questions make executives lives much harder — changing demands and personalization is complex and almost impossible to handle without any tools

What should be done?

1. Embrace a data-driven approach — rely on data-driven signals that will indicate behaviors that impact the employee experience

2. Stop blaming the market — Employees resign these days even if they don’t have a new job at hand!
Employees have changed their preferences — discover those preferences! After all — it’s cheaper to retain than to hire new employee

3. Bite-sized insights and questions
Don’t ask many questions at once — you’ll lose your crowd.
ask one question at a time- slip them indirectly into their daily routines.

4. Educate middle managers, create feedback loops and provide them with actionable insights — Most haven’t been trained to manage hybrid / remote teams

5. Educate your executives — Remember! most executives are from the 19th century. Advocate the future of work and the importance of flexibility, work-life balance & building a digital culture if they want to keep their employees creative and productive

6. Embrace flexibility, personalization, and tools that provide them
Don’t average out employees and simplify work processes.
Embrace data-driven solutions that help manage this new work

Table of Contents

Share with friends:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Recent Posts
Fake hybrid work models

We are seeing a lot of very bad implementation of hybrid work which explains why managers are panicking and employees

Read More »