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Alternatives to Large Scale Employee Surveys

The following tips are from Surveying Employees by John E. Jones, Ph.D. and William L. Bearley, Ed.D. Drs. Jones and Bearley are experienced professors and consultants who have done substantial work in the field of employee surveys and 360° feedback with numerous public and private organizations.

Survey Projects

A number of activities can be carried out without having to go through the carefully designed steps described in our book. Each of these activities is a compromise from, or is in preparation for, the total-system intervention that we prefer. Several of these activities can be combined in one project.

Small-group surveys. Team building is often aided by the use of survey feedback. A team-oriented questionnaire can be devised, administered to a work group, summarized, and fed back in an extended staff session, preferably offsite.

Samples. Remarkably accurate statistics can be derived from small samples of employees. This approach can be used as a starting point for using survey-feedback technology within an organization.

Upgrading the attitude survey. It seems to us that the annual attitude survey, the results of which are studied only by select senior managers, is largely worthless. One way to get started in the approach that is advocated in this guidebook is to change the survey and its feedback, to emphasize behavior and problem identification through feedback to all.

Working with senior management. In order for a large-scale survey to be ideally targeted, there must be a consensus among top leaders on the organization’s vision, mission, purpose, goals, and values. HRD personnel can assist as facilitators of the discussion of these vital topics as preparation for working with a task force to determine the present state of the organization against these important directional statements.

A “quick-and-dirty.” If senior managers are concerned about what they perceive may be a problem in the organization, a simple, short questionnaire can be devised and administered to explore the situation. It is important to promise feedback to everyone involved, including a report on management’s action plan.

Seminar using this book. A task force to conduct a survey can profit by studying this guidebook closely.