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DOs and DON'Ts of Employee Opinion Surveys

Would you ever agree to a game of darts blindfolded? Of course not! Why would you ever attempt to address employee or operational issues without the benefit of employee input?

Employee opinion surveys can be a valuable tool to gain insight to workforce perceptions and potential issues of concern when carried out effectively. The survey process will strengthen the communications bridge between employees and their leaders. Asking about your team’s views on workplace priorities demonstrates that you respect your staff and value their opinions. Often, employee input to surveys reveals fundamental yet correctable issues that, when addressed, can increase employee commitment, individual contribution and overall results.

Here are a few Do’s & Don’ts to consider should you contemplate an employee survey at your company.


  • Accept the results.  Perception is reality for survey participants.  Discounting input because it’s not consistent with management’s view affects trust and confidence in leadership.
  • Utilize the service of a third party to facilitate the process.  An outsider provides a layer of confidentiality which allows employees to more confidently provide honest feedback.  You are also more likely to adhere to a timeline and follow through with the entire process when someone else is managing the process.
  • Create action plans to address the areas for potential improvement revealed by the survey process.  Consider establishing interdepartmental committees to identify possible solutions.
  • Hold individual managers accountable for developing action plans for areas identified as weaknesses through the departmental sub-reports.  Establish performance goals related to these initiatives for each of your department leaders.
  • Communicate the results to your staff.  Employees want to know the “score” and your next steps in response to the input they provide.  The best way to discourage future participation in a survey is to fail to address the results!
  • Plan for follow-up feedback mechanisms. It takes time to analyze and act on the survey findings. Frequently sharing progress on the action plans is vital. Consider posting your plans and updates on the company intranet or maintain the survey action items as an agenda item for every staff meeting.


  • Invest in any survey unless senior leadership is committed to acting on the data, even when the results are not what was expected.
  • Hide the areas identified for potential improvement.
  • Fail to acknowledge the positives.  Employee opinion surveys should also capture an organization’s strengths.  These areas are the foundation upon which changes can be made.  Feedback should highlight the good and the bad. Employees are already talking about these areas in the break room anyway!
  • Require participation in the process.  Making participation feel mandatory can create skewed results because hesitant employees might half-heartedly select a response rather than thoughtfully providing input.  Some employees need to observe the first survey process before they will choose to participate in later ones.
  • Stop with one.  Make employee surveys a part of your culture.  Repeat the process every couple of years so you can gauge progress and measure and report gains.
Involving and engaging your employees is much less expensive than replacing your best people.  Take the time to design and conduct an opinion survey that maximizes employee participation in the process and propels your organization to higher levels of engagement.

---Tracy Lindow
The Centre Group
Posted: 9/8/2014 7:30:00 AM | with 0 comments
Filed under: business, communications, employee, small, surveys

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