7 Common Mistakes in Employee Engagement Survey

7 Common Mistakes in Employee Engagement Survey

Regular engagement surveys are a common practice among companies which care about not only employees, but also the result of their work.

How to conduct this survey in a way that won’t cause any complaints? In this article we cover the most common mistakes during employee engagement surveys.

Your sole goal is to conduct a survey

"Because everybody does it" or "I wonder what my employees think" are not valid reasons for organizing a global survey. A lot depends on the specific purpose of a survey: the time of the survey conduct, the target audience, the choice the provider, and the questions themselves. This also includes the choice of research tools: for example, to make a conclusion about the problematic points and reasons for employees leaving, it is sometimes enough to find a few reviews about your company on the Internet.

One application form for all

There is a case of one European production company that bought an expensive international methodology for the internal survey and invited all employees – from office managers to production workers – to fill out the form. But while the office employees were not bothered by the questionnaire at all, the workers deemed questions like "Do you collect antiques?" to be inappropriate. As a result, they refused to take the survey, because they felt like it was humiliating.

If your company has several different target audiences, it is pointless to talk to all of them in the same language. Make multiple questionnaires, each of which will be clear to each employees category.

Incorrect communication channel

Asking employees to fill out a questionnaire at home is at least disrespectful. The survey should be constructed in a way that it is easy to be conducted during working hours and in the workplace.

If an employee works at the computer, prepare an online version for him or her. If a cashier in a supermarket is to be surveyed, make a paper version of the questionnaire, that he or she can fill out in a back room. If an employee is constantly engaged in the production, provide him or her with a break and prepare a comfortable place to complete the questionnaire.

Lengthy questionnaires

Companies often want to know everything at once. But the long questionnaire with hardly help in this case: the more it is complex for an employee to fill it, the less likely the employee to reach the end of it or give serious thought to any of the questions.

The optimal time any questionnaire should take is about 15-20 minutes: this limit affects the number of open questions as well as the questionnaires’ format. If you want to conduct an hour-long survey, take care of employees’ motivation.


Ambassadors of the survey should be the leaders of a company. In this case, they will be able to convey the importance and necessity of the participation to each employee.

Enlist the support of management, tell them what goals are before you and how employees’ positive opinion and motivation are important for achieving these goals. It is company’s leaders who are able to motivate all participants in the survey the best.


Providers of anonymous questionnaires, interviews and focus groups in companies often hear from participants that they do not trust HR-managers, that there is in fact no anonymity at all. Online participants are detected by IP-address, and those who filled out paper questionnaires are recognize by their handwriting. Sometimes, to determine the identity of a participant, you do not even have to resort to tricks like that: for instance, in a questionnaire it is necessary to specify the name of the department, and some department in the company has only 3 people, and only one of them is a man, so his anonymity is instantly compromised.

How can you overcome these fears? Firstly, use third-party providers to conduct the survey. Secondly, make wider cross-sections in order not to "expose" participants. Third, work out all objections in advance, together with the management, so that when communicating with the employees you have ready and compelling answers to all questions.

You do not give feedback

Any research raises employees’ expectations. They talk about the problems and hope that you will begin solving these problems. They talk about what they want to change and hope to know whether it is possible to implement these changes at least in the distant future. Therefore, discussing results of any survey behind closed doors is a big mistake.

It is not necessary to tell employees everything. But it is important to convey to them that the survey was not a simple formality, but became the basis for the plan of development and improvement, even if not everything the employees ask for can be done. Coherent explanation of what will be done and why is necessary.

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