Organizational surveys involve a series of questions about employees’ attitudes, views, and behaviors toward workplace issues. Surveys continue to be a popular option for organizations to collect information. It’s important to understand how a survey should be constructed. Hence, question type, sequence, wording, and response format in survey design are critical.
Even minor differences in question wording can significantly impact responses. To avoid bias or misrepresentation questions have to be worded carefully. Below are some tips for crafting human resources survey questions.
1. Wording should be exact and reflect precisely what the organization is looking to measure. The words frequently, usually, and sometimes are very common in surveys. If the organization however, want to determine the potential demand for pet insurance among employees, it might not be enough to know that an employee will sometimes use the plan, due to the uncertainty involved. More precise and useful information can be collected if employees are asked to estimate the number of times they would use the program within a given time period.
2. Wording should be straight forward and easy to understand by everyone. Avoid jargon, abbreviations, and terms that are unfamiliar in your industry for employees to understand.
3. Avoid questions that led employees to choose one answer over the other. For example, should the company fix the dangerous machinery equipment in the plant? The word dangerous suggest to employees that choosing the answer “yes” would be ideal.
4. Questions should be short and relatively simple. Split lengthy statements into multiple questions if possible. For example, do you think the company should allow teleworking and flex-timing on Fridays? If employees answer “yes” it would be hard to understand if they support both teleworking and flex-timing or both.
Lastly, the sequence of survey questions help in capturing respondents’ interest from the beginning and maintain it throughout. Start with a general easy question that is both non-threatening, important to respondents, and clearly relevant to the issue at hand. One question can in turn affect responses to subsequent questions. For example, if a survey question asks how often do you coach your managers on effective management skills; followed by asking what’s the most important organizational development activity organizations can take on with their managers? Don’t be alarmed if the majority of the responses feature coaching managers on organizational development skills.
Also extremely important is the format of responses. In an organizational setting where the survey is been conducted by human resources professionals or others familiar with the range of possible responses, closed-ended questions generally can be quickly answered by employees.
By Sophia Sanchez, SPHRPrincipal Consultant – Develop For Results International Author of “The Development Alternative: Powerful Strategies for unparalleled Business Results” For more information about our Human Resource Consulting services to include workplace climate surveys and interventions please visit DevelopForResults.com