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.

Things To Do

Establish a clear purpose. Make sure that the people who receive the questionnaire can understand why completing it candidly is important.

Establish a theme for the intervention. One year it may be values, another it may be communication, etc.

Set measurable objectives. Establish a method of determining the extent to which the survey-feedback intervention worked.

Involve representative people in the planning. Develop a task force under the direction of senior management and accountable to it.

Determine the conditions under which the data will be gathered. Attempt to create conditions that promote honest responses and minimize fear of exposure.

Establish benchmarks for longitudinal comparisons. Include in the survey some items that will be repeated later in order to study effects of planned changes in organizational functioning.

Customize every survey questionnaire. Make each instrument fit the local situation, and avoid the temptation to buy one “off the shelf.”

Things To Avoid

Measuring everything that looks interesting. Including items on survey instruments should be dictated by the purpose of the survey, not by curiosity.

“Sitting on” the results. There should be no conditions or results that would bring about the decision not to feed back the statistics to the people who provided it.

Exceeding the reading level of respondents. Test the instrument with a carefully selected sample before administering it to everyone.

Interpreting data for the client. Facilitate the process of interpretation, stay out of the content of the discussion.