Tips & best practices for conducting an employee survey

by Danique Geskus | Sep 29, 2023


Real-time insight into employee engagement

An employee survey is a structured process that collects employee opinions and experiences. The goal is to gain insight into satisfaction, engagement and areas for improvement. It is becoming increasingly important because of the competitive job market and the focus on employee well-being. Read on for tips & best practices. 


What is an employee survey?

An employee survey is really just a structured process where we collect employee opinions and experiences. We use questionnaires to measure things like how satisfied they are, how engaged they are, how they perceive leadership and how they like the work environment. With these insights, we can discover the organization’s strengths and areas for improvement, recognize trends and develop action plans. By regularly conducting an employee survey, we help improve work culture and increase employee satisfaction and engagement. It is simply a super handy tool to listen to employees and create a more productive and satisfied work environment.


What is the purpose of an employee survey?

The purpose of an employee survey is actually quite simple. We have three main reasons for it:

  1. We want to gain insight into employee satisfaction. It is important to know how employees feel about different aspects of their work, such as their work environment, salary, opportunities for development and a good work-life balance. Through this insight, we can discover strengths and identify areas in which we can improve so that employees are even more satisfied.
  2. We want to increase employee engagement. Engaged employees are often more motivated, productive and committed to the organization. An employee survey helps us identify factors that influence engagement, such as leadership, communication and development opportunities. Based on the results, we can take targeted initiatives to strengthen engagement and promote a positive work culture.
  3. We want to identify areas for improvement and create action plans. An employee survey helps us identify bottlenecks and challenges within the organization that might otherwise be overlooked. We can discover areas in which we can improve and adjust processes to create a positive work environment. This affects not only employee satisfaction and engagement, but also organizational performance and success.


Why is conducting an employee survey increasingly important?

With all the competition in the job market, it is essential to provide a satisfying work environment. An employee survey helps companies understand what motivates and keeps employees satisfied so they can remain competitive in attracting and retaining talent. Employee well-being is becoming increasingly important because it directly affects productivity and business results. An employee survey measures employees’ experiences and identifies issues affecting their well-being. Changes in ways of working, such as working from home and flexibility, require adjustments. An employee survey helps us understand and address these challenges. New generations also have different demands, and an employee survey provides insight into how we can meet these changing needs and remain attractive to new talent.


How do you conduct an employee survey?

You can conduct an employee survey in several ways. One option is to hire an outside research firm that specializes in employee surveys. They have the expertise, experience and tools to professionally design the survey, conduct it and analyze the results. They ensure that everything is confidential and objective so that the results are reliable.

Another option is to conduct the employee survey internally. This requires you to create the questionnaires, collect the data and conduct the analysis yourself. For this, you can use the HR department or other internal resources. The advantage of this is that you have more control over the process and can address specific needs and context. It can also be more cost-effective than using an outside agency.

When conducting an employee survey internally, it is important to make sure that the questionnaires are valid and reliable, that the anonymity of the respondents is guaranteed and that the results are analyzed objectively. You should also pay adequate attention to communication surrounding the survey to encourage employee participation and honesty.

The choice between using an agency or conducting it internally depends on the specific needs, resources and expertise of the organization. Either approach can be effective, as long as you pay attention to the quality of the survey and the usefulness of the results in making decisions and implementing improvements.


How do you determine the questionnaire and number of questions for an employee survey?

Creating a questionnaire for a survey can be challenging. There are several things to consider, such as scientific validity, relevance of the questions, balance between open and closed questions, length of the questionnaire and management approval. These aspects greatly affect the effectiveness of the survey.

How many questions you ask in your employee survey depends on what you want to know and what goals you have set. We recommend a minimum of 25 questions and not overdoing it with more than 80 to 120 questions in total. It’s important that people enjoy taking the survey and it doesn’t take too long. So, keep it nice and accessible and make sure filling it out is a breeze!

That’s why Learned has developed the Learned engagement model. This model is based on 18 themes with 90 science-based questions that measure employee satisfaction and engagement. You can download the model for free. Want to see the model in action? Then create a trial account on the Learned platform and see the model live. With this model, you can build a solid foundation for measuring and improving employee satisfaction and engagement in your organization.


Is an employee survey mandatory?

Well, actually no. There is no legal requirement to conduct an employee survey. But the Occupational Health and Safety Act does require employers to identify work pressure, work stress and undesirable behavior. This must be included in the risk inventory and evaluation (RI&E), along with other occupational risks. Employers must also implement policies to prevent or reduce psychosocial workload (PSA). Although an employee survey is not specifically mentioned as an obligation, it can help identify work pressure, work stress and undesirable behavior and find areas for improvement. Promoting a healthy work environment and employee well-being shows your commitment as an employer.


How much does an employee survey cost?

The cost of an employee survey can vary depending on the option chosen. Here are three options:

1. Agency

If you hire an outside research firm, you can count on a professional approach. But keep in mind that this can be pricey. For an organization with about 100 employees, costs can quickly reach €5,000 to €10,000, depending on the size and complexity of the study.

2. Do it yourself with free tools

Another option is to conduct an employee survey yourself using free tools such as Google Forms. This can be cost-effective, but it does take more time and effort. You have to create the questionnaire yourself, collect the data and analyze the results. Keep in mind that you may have less advanced functionality than with paid options.

3. MTO tool such as Learned

A third option is to use a special MTO tool such as Learned. These tools offer advanced features for conducting employee surveys. Costs can vary, but are often based on a price per employee per month. For example, Learned is available starting at €2 euros per employee per month. This option combines ease of use with professional functionality and can offer a good balance between cost and efficiency.

It is important to weigh costs against the specific needs and capabilities of the organization. Making an informed choice when conducting an employee survey can help provide valuable insights and improve employee satisfaction and engagement.

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