Nhi Nguyen - October 31, 2017 -
6 Min Read

What can you really measure with an employee survey?

Employee surveys are an essential tool for any organization. Surveys can help your company gain valuable insight and critical feedback that benefits your business, employees and even your bottom line.

It’s safe to say, employee surveys are a must. But, do you know what you’re actually measuring? Have you got a clear goal in mind? Employee surveys are most useful when used to measure something precise. Taking a targeted approach will help you achieve actionable results and implement the necessary changes.

Not sure what you can measure? Here are 7 essential metrics for your next employee survey. If you need some guidance or inspiration for crafting questions that will help you gather meaningful data, check out our list of research-backed employee survey questions.

1. Employee Satisfaction

Employee satisfaction is an important metric that most companies need to carefully monitor. And it’s easy to see why. Job satisfaction has been linked to higher levels of productivity, creativity, and collaboration. In today’s highly competitive markets, companies must focus on measuring and improving employee satisfaction. A satisfied employee is more motivated and more likely to foster a positive work environment, boosting their own performance and ultimately, your company’s.

Surveys surrounding satisfaction should focus on opinions and perceptions of employees. Questions should cover key topics including remuneration, benefits, job satisfaction, company policies, work hours, retention rates, etc. By understanding how satisfied your employees are within their role, work environment, and the company, managers can address any concerns and make informed decisions.

The key to successful employee satisfaction surveys is transparency with your team and a commitment to make changes based on the results.

2. Employee Engagement

Research has shown that disengaged employees can cost organizations between $450 and $550 billion each year. Imagine working for a company without having a clear idea of what you are working towards. Wouldn’t you feel like your work had no meaning or value? Would you really be engaged and invested in your job?

Employee engagement levels are critical to assessing a company's strengths and areas for improvement surrounding a job role or department. Engaging employees is about bringing them in the big picture and showing them your organization's vision as well as your short-term and long-term goals.

Surveys should focus on elements such as whether the work is meaningful, the level of trust an employee has for the organization, working environment and the opportunities for the employee to learn and grow.

Although they are quite different, employee engagement and satisfaction often get mixed up. An engaged employee is heavily involved and invested in their work, ready to do their best to help the company succeed. There is an emotional connection to the work, organization and its goals. Employee satisfaction often stems from their engagement and relates to how happy or content an employee is in your company. It is therefore essential to use employee surveys to measure both metrics.

3. Employee Morale

How are your employees feeling? Employee morale can have a significant influence on productivity, engagement and overall job satisfaction, which makes it an important metric to watch. This is especially true if your company is going through some notable changes. Whether you’re being bought by a competitor, merging with another company, re-structuring or just changing office locations, you need to make sure that your employees are coping with the changes and show you are there to support them.

To get the best results, conduct frequent but non-intrusive short surveys to spot any trends and impacts. If your organization utilizes Slack already, consider using Polly to do quick and simple recurring polls. Keeping your surveys regular will allow you to see how certain events may affect office morale and ensure you can take appropriate steps to rectify issues quickly.

4. How Different Teams, Departments or Locations Compare

Does your company operate in different areas? If so, you might want to find out if one of them is performing better than the others in a particular area, whether it’s collaboration, productivity, job satisfaction or employee retention.

Is your London office performing better than your San Francisco HQ? Are they doing anything differently? Using employee surveys to measure different teams, departments or locations could offer valuable insights and help you implement better solutions throughout your company.

When conducting a survey across different departments or locations, make sure you keep it consistent. Measure the same metrics on the same frequency to ensure you have useful data to make accurate decisions.

5. Internal Communication Performance

To engage with employees, convey a consistent brand message, empower middle management and increase transparency, companies must have an effective internal communication strategy in place. However, internal communication can be difficult to evaluate, with only 16% of internal communicators happy with their measurement protocols. Employee surveys are a valuable way of understanding whether or not your internal communication is working efficiently, and enable internal communicators to obtain resources and increase their value.

An internal communication survey will vary for each company depending on particular business and communication objectives. A few examples of useful metrics to evaluate include employee awareness resulting from communication actions, changes in behavior before and after a communication campaign, and even the impact of communication on the business. However, this is much harder to track.  

Engagement rates are critical in evaluating performance effectively, so it’s important as many employees as possible participate. Where this fails for organizations is using an unfamiliar tool or a secondary form of communication to conduct the survey. If your organization is heavily embedded in and uses Slack as the primary form of internal communication, don’t run email-based surveys! Utilize Slack and create quick and recurring surveys using Polly. The key is to keep it consistent with your existing internal communication method, and you'll see the results you need to make actionable changes.  

6. Your managers’ strengths and weaknesses

Managers can make or break a company. They have an enormous impact on your employees’ productivity, creativity, job satisfaction or even personal health. However, recent studies have shown that 85% of executives weren’t confident in their leadership pipelines and that 65% of employees would rather get a new boss than a pay raise. With that in mind, you should ensure that you are regularly assessing and measuring your managers’ performances.

Beyond what they’re doing for your bottom line, it’s important to look at their influence on your employees too. They might be bringing in big numbers, but are the teams displaying higher levels of stress and lower levels of satisfaction? Do your employees feel they can approach managers? Are managers effectively using company resources? Monitoring these metrics on a regular basis will help measure your manager’s performances and allow you to tackle any problems as soon as you catch a negative trend.

When conducting these type of surveys, only ask questions that employees will feel comfortable answering. Keep your surveys anonymous and score questions on a scale (either numerical or as 'strongly agree' to 'strongly disagree') to receive measurable data.

7. Efficiency and Effectiveness of HR Initiatives

An effective and efficient HR department is often tied to the strategic success of a business. HR process and initiatives can contribute to a productive, engaged and satisfied workplace that achieves a company’s strategic goals. However, with so many different contributing factors, it can be hard to measure the contributions of your HR department as a whole.

To do this, HR processes should be broken down and measured regarding efficiency, effectiveness and overall impact. Regular employee surveys can help you monitor these metrics to determine how successful your efforts have been. Is your induction process helpful to recruits? What could you do better? Are long-serving employees still passionate about their work? Are there opportunities to grow and develop? While HR surveys will often overlap into other areas such as engagement and satisfaction, it’s worth focusing on the process and your HR department’s contribution to provide insights into where improvement can be made.

Keep Your Surveys Focused

Employee surveys can benefit a company in many different ways, although to see positive change, it's important to start with a clear goal in mind. Do you use any of the above employee surveys in your company? Let us know in the comments!

Nhi Nguyen

Written by Nhi Nguyen

Professional Netflix binge-watcher. Wants to see all of the world.