Surveying Employees: 8 Steps to Improving Job Satisfaction

woman employee - surveying employees

Understanding the fundamentals of satisfaction and engagement among employees provides a plethora of useful information for your company.

Therefore, taking the time to survey employees will have a direct correlation to retention and productivity. Implementing this type of survey is simple and well worth the time spent.

In fact, highly engaged employers experience a 25 to 59% decrease in turnover. However, most employees don’t consider themselves “very engaged” at work -- and that comes at a very high cost. Studies show that disengagement costs up to $550 billion per year in the U.S.

As you can see there are major benefits to conducting employee surveys. In this blog post, our market research company shares the key steps to executing a successful study. 

1. Surveying Employees In-House vs. With a Third-Party 👔

When surveying employees, an organization must decide if they will conduct the study in-house or outsource the project to a third party. 

While conducting the study in-house will save on costs, there are a few substantial drawbacks to be aware of. 

Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of a DIY employee survey is that employees don't trust that their feedback will remain anonymous. They fear that their survey responses are not confidential and will be shared with their managers and leadership teams. 

Therefore, they are less likely to be 100% honest with their feedback. As a result, organization decision-makers are provided with inaccurate information about the satisfaction of their employees.

💡 The Key Takeaway: Obtaining honest answers from employee surveys is a major benefit of hiring a third-party. 

2. Determining the Type of Methodology 📋

In the initial phases, it is also helpful to determine how you will be surveying employees. In most cases, organizations choose to send an online survey link via email -- however, you have other options!

Methods to collecting team feedback include:

  1. Email surveys (conducted online). Drive Research often recommends this approach. Online surveys offer a fast turnaround, strong ROI, and great affordability.
  2. Phone surveys. While not often used, phone employee surveys are chosen by organizations looking for more in-depth feedback.
  3. Mail surveys. Handout, paper surveys are usually completed through the mail. It is a suitable option for organizations that cannot share personally identifiable information like an email address.

Not sure which type of market research is best? That’s okay too!

An employee survey company can provide their recommendations for the best approach based on organization size, budget, employee demographics, and more. 

💡 The Key Takeaway: Employee surveys are sent via email or through mail. Email is typically the most efficient way to go. 

3. Prepping For Your Survey ✔️

If you decide to use a third party for employee surveys, the first step is to receive a quote from different vendors.

The market research proposal will also share secondary information about the project such as key deliverables, a general timeline, and more.

After selecting an employee survey company, gather a small and cohesive group that will represent the internal stakeholders of the project. 

Having a core team allows for better communication and common goals.

The last step to prepping for your survey is to schedule a kickoff meeting with the employee survey company.

It is a great opportunity to share more details about your objectives and goals for the employee satisfaction survey. The meeting will also give you more insight into the survey process and next steps. 

💡 The Key Takeaway: After choosing your preferred market research partner, schedule a brief kickoff meeting with the third-party company and internal project stakeholders. Doing so assures all parties have a united front when it comes to objectives, timelines, and responsibilities.

4. Drafting Your Survey ✍🏽

Get ready, because the most important part of this entire process is coming up -- the actual survey. A draft, that is.

Compiling what you want out of this project will all be in your ever-important survey draft. 

Aside from keeping you on track, the survey draft allows you to pinpoint the necessary criteria: 

  1. Order
  2. Flow
  3. Wording 
  4. Bias
  5. Question style
  6. Potential results
  7. Skip patterns
  8. Masking 

When the draft is complete, the employee satisfaction survey company will share the document with you for review. It is important that you feel very confident about what questions are included.

After approving the survey document, it’s time to exchange the employee database--similar to mail surveys.

Delivered in an Excel file or CSV, this exchange includes the contact information employees can be reached to receive an email survey invitation. 

💡 The Key Takeaway: Drafting your survey keeps you on-task and aware of what you want out of the employee survey. Through this, you’ll be able to recognize the tone you want the survey to have. 

5. Importance of Survey Formatting 📜

Once drafted, your employee survey will then be programmed to appear online. Rest easy, you can be sure the survey will appear correctly formatted on all electronic devices. 

For mail surveys, the survey will be appealingly formatted onto a small booklet or a double-sided print document. Return envelopes with paid postage are usually included with print surveys like this. 

Pro tip! It’s a good idea to give your employees a heads-up as to when their survey will be arriving. 

Known as a pre-notice, this step covers:

  1. When the survey invite will come in 
  2. The importance of response
  3. Promotes credibility of using a third-party research team

Now it’s time to experiment. Testing the survey is crucial in seeing how the survey will appear to employees and that it is working as intended.

A team of assistants will run through key factors like: 

  1. Grammar 
  2. Context 
  3. Comprehension
  4. Skip patterns
  5. Logic
  6. Other issues 

By assessing these components, you can be sure a concise and user-friendly survey is on its way.

💡 The Key Takeaway: The way a survey is formatted plays a large role in its effectiveness. A third-party team will walk you through the steps of making your survey as user-friendly as possible.

6. Importance of Reminders 💡

Once your employee survey has been released into the wild, staff will get reminders after the initial send-off. These reminders serve as, well, just that. Depending on the response rate, employees usually receive two reminders. 

With mail surveys, it’s another story. Reminders on this front often yield little results. Try following up with a phone or email check-in at this point. 

Once the response goal is met, the survey is closed and analysis begins. Main insights and other important information are gathered in this step. 

💡 The Key Takeaway: Sending reminders have a significant impact on increasing employee survey response rates. Our team recommends sending at least two.

7. Creating the Employee Survey Report 📖

The analysis of the survey results leads to reporting, of which are multiple options. 

Typically, reporting packages for employee surveys can be broken down into the following categories: 

  1. Bronze - Exportable graphs and charts in an online format
  2. Silver - Bulleted 2 to 4 page summary of key takeaways from the survey 
  3. Gold - In-depth report including crosstabulations and recommendations

In the case of our employee survey firm, we offer a topline and a comprehensive reporting package. However, we create an a la carte approach where you can pick and choose which elements you want to be included in the report.

It is important the final deliverable is completely customized from the results to the recommendations we include for how to take action with the data.

💡 The Key Takeaway: Choose from three easy-to-read report options. These options range from concise, online presentations to highly detailed reports.

Recommended Reading: How to Write an Employee Satisfaction Survey Report

8. Debriefing the Results 📧

Whichever package you choose, you should always have a debrief meeting with your third-party team to discuss key takeaways from the survey.

Debriefs are important because they assure you fully understand the results and how to take action with them.

Often, debriefs will cover the following topics: 

  1. Background and methodology of the survey
  2. Key findings
  3. Actionable recommendations
  4. Next steps for other market research or marketing tasks

After the debrief, the market research firm continues to check in to ensure your satisfaction.

These check-ins are a prime opportunity to ask any additional questions you may have about the data.

Lastly, to wrap things up, sending your employees a thank you note for completing the survey is a great way to show your appreciation. This can be sent by the third-party team and is a simple (but important!) final step. 

💡 The Key Takeaway: You’ll be able to fully understand the results of your survey through a comprehensive debrief. This includes a review of key findings and what your next steps should be.

Survey Your Employees with Drive Research

By surveying employees, leadership and HR teams can better understand what drives team satisfaction, engagement, productivity, and more. 

While this type of market research can be conducted in-house, many organizations choose to work with a third-party organization to assure 100% anonymity of feedback.

Interested in partnering with an employee survey company like Drive Research? Our team of certified professionals partners with organizations across the country to design, program, field, and analyze employee engagement survey results.

To receive a project quote, contact our team today!

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040


Lark Allen

As a Content Marketing Specialist, Lark has a strong background and passion for creative, professional, and journalistic writing. She is also a self-proclaimed music freak and 90s enthusiast.

Learn more about Lark, here.

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