10 Questions Is Not Enough for an Effective Employee Survey

It doesn’t matter whether you ask 9 questions on your employee survey or 10 or 12 or 14 questions. None of these are enough to help leaders figure out exactly what makes their unique group of employees engaged.

Employee surveys can be one of the most powerful tools for understanding your culture, figuring out how to engage your employees to bring out their inner passion, to motivate them, and to help them grow and develop.  And yet, if you do your survey the wrong way, you not only squander this opportunity, you can do the organization damage. And one big thing many organizations do wrong is in using surveys that ask too few questions.

I’ve run hundreds of regression analyses from similarly-sized organizations that show that one group of employees is usually driven by radically-different issues than another. For instance, a nurse in a small community hospital in Alabama is likely to have different motivational drivers than a stock trader on Wall Street, or a government employee, or a soldier in Iraq, or a Gen Y programmer in Silicon Valley. Just as a commissioned salesperson will have different motivational drivers than a Civil Service employee. Each of these folks made radically different career choices, and they all have radically different work schedules, workloads, compensation packages, missions, level of job risk, etc. So while some of these folks might do their job just fine without a best friend sitting next to them, others might be more motivated by taking on risky projects, or when given greater security and predictability.

Employee engagement surveys need 25 to 30 questions to be effective

It takes 25-30 questions to really figure out what motivates your unique group of employees. Sure, it’s fun and easy to ask 12 questions (and you might save 5 minutes on your survey). But who cares if it’s fast if the data you get completely misses the mark on the issues you need to know about? If you go to the doctor and he takes an extra 5 minutes to do a really thorough diagnosis, are you going to be annoyed? Probably not. I mean, you took the time to drive there and get undressed; you might as well take a little extra time to get a medically accurate diagnosis. It’s no different with employee surveys.

Learn how to avoid the pitfalls of employee surveys and make your organization’s employee surveys their most effective, by attending “Deadly Sins of Employee Engagement Surveys” November 16 at 1pm ET.

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Mark Murphy is the New York Times Bestselling author and Founder of Leadership IQ.

Click here to see Mark’s upcoming webinars.

Mark leads one of the world’s largest leadership training and employee engagement studies, and his work has appeared in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Forbes, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, U.S. News & World Report and the Washington Post. Mark has also been a featured guest on programs including CBS News Sunday Morning, ABC’s 20/20, Fox Business News and NPR.

Mark’s leadership training and employee engagement surveys have yielded remarkable results for organizations such as Harvard Business School, Aflac, Charles Schwab, Microsoft, IBM, MasterCard, Merck, MD Anderson Cancer Center, FirstEnergy, Volkswagen and Johns Hopkins.

Mark’s best-selling books included Hiring for Attitude, Hundred Percenters, and HARD Goals.

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