20 How to choose an employee survey

How can you choose the best employee survey for your organization? Here are some criteria you might consider:

  1. Can you drill down in the results? Can you look at results by multiple demographics, including department, gender, length of service, etc.? For example, as long as there are sufficient numbers to maintain confidentiality of the respondents, can you look at the results of female second shift millennial Hispanic production workers? Do you have to use demographics defined by the survey company, or can you define your own? While results for the entire organization are very valuable, being able to drill into the details is invaluable. For example, your millennial women might score much lower than millennial men or the entire population. You would probably not be able to discern this without a survey, because these women might be dispersed throughout your organization.
  1. Can you add your own questions? Some surveys allow you to add up to 10 custom questions, so you can look at areas that are unique to your environment. For example, an industrial organization might add questions about environment or safety, whereas those questions might not be the most important for a retailer or telemarketer or law firm.

  1. Can you compare results across surveys? Some surveys allow you to see the trends from multiple surveys. And allow you to drill into those results from the top screen (per #1, above). The example shows the trend for 13 managers of a 200-person organization across 2 surveys. This chart invites a leader to ask, “What caused the changes?”
  1. Has the survey been tested for reliability and validity? One survey, Vantage Point, scored .92, .92, and .93 for reliability using Cronbach’s Alpha Test on its 3 scales: adaptability, engagement, and cohesion. (The threshold to be considered “reliable” is .70.) And Vantage Point achieved a very high score of .90 on validity using Confirmatory Factor Analysis.
  2. Are the results actionable? The questions themselves need to be specific enough to be actionable, otherwise the survey is just data – nice to know, but not helpful in terms of suggesting what to change.
  3. After-survey support. Does the survey consulting organization offer expert after-survey support? Is that support fairly priced? Is that support readily available?

Gary Langenwalter


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