The Key to Getting the Most Out of Your Annual Employee Feedback Survey

Employee feedback is an essential component of a company’s growth and overall health. Feedback surveys serve a variety of purposes, including gauging an employee’s sense of investment within the company, his or her concerns, and overall office morale. And while it’s essential that employers know how to give feedback, in this case, the task falls on the employee’s shoulders, and it’s up to you to set them up for success. Read on for some ways to really benefit from your annual employee feedback survey.


Before the Survey:

Determine What You Want to Discover

Are you interested in improving managers’ performance? The overall work environment? Compensation protocol? Instead of presenting your employees with a random hodgepodge of generic questions, decide ahead of time what specific area you want to focus on and…focus on it. Beware of handing out employee evaluations simply to gather intelligence—if you just want information, form focus groups from which you can gather reports. Surveys should be dedicated solely to those issues that can (and will) be acted upon.

Try to Raise the Stakes

You immediately get employees’ attention if they know upper management will view their evaluations. If at all possible, get those in charge on board with the survey, and have them agree to look at the data—and address the appropriate concerns and needed changes that result from them.

Guarantee Confidentiality

This might seem like a given, but it’s especially important to emphasize to employees that all their responses will be kept private—especially if the survey is done through an outside company. Reassuring employees of your confidentiality protocol can go a long way in getting honest, unfiltered responses.

During the Survey:

Make Sure Your Wording is Clear

Use words that can be understood by everyone in the industry to avoid confusion or ambiguity. Keep questions simply worded, and avoid combining too many components within each question.

Make Sure Your Wording is Consistent

Considering you're conducting an employee feedback survey on a yearly (or otherwise consistent) basis, it’s important to keep your wording pretty much the same from year to year. This helps you measure and compare the same issues from one year to the next.

Avoid Giving Too Many—or Too Few—Surveys Per Year

Avoid conducting more than one survey per year (remember, form focus groups if you’re just information gathering) in order to avoid burnout from employees. On the other hand, you should make employee feedback surveys a regular event—simply doing it once is fairly useless. After all, the whole point of these surveys is to check in on the components of the office that are most fluid.

After the Survey:

Compare…but Carefully

Comparing your results with industry benchmarks is an important and hugely helpful way to keep an eye on how your company is faring overall. However, be careful when doing so. While these outside comparisons can be a wake-up call if you’re particularly low in an area, they can also erode any desire to improve if the results are higher than average.

Be Transparent

There’s nothing worse than giving honest feedback and then hearing…nothing. Sharing the results with your employees as swiftly as possible helps them feel that their input matters—and holds you accountable to start taking action.

Take Action

The quickest way to completely nullify any potential benefits from your employee feedback survey is to do nothing with the results. Be prepared for major overhauls as well as substantial tweaks. And remember to inform your employees when you do make changes (and relate it directly back to the feedback they gave you). Engagement is key.

No one likes to hear what isn’t working within a company. But for better or for worse, that kind of feedback is just as essential as hearing what does work. Use your employee surveys as a catalyst for change, however small, and they will be considered a success.

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