In my previous blog post, I discussed how writing good survey questions can be challenging. The goal is to design survey questions that capture the information you need. So, how does one get started?

First, let’s consider the types of questions: open-ended, binary, scale, and multiple choice.

Open ended

What do you like best about working for ABC Company?

Advantages: Open-ended questions do not place any limits on the response. Your survey respondents can tell you anything that they feel is relevant or want you to know. Open-ended questions encourage a fuller, more meaningful answer.

Disadvantages: Different respondents give varying degrees of detail in responses. Therefore, comparisons and statistical analysis become more involved. Also, more time, thought, and effort is necessary for the respondent to answer the question.

Most experts recommend including at least one open-ended question for your employees to give you some extra feedback. Open-ended questions give you and the respondent an outlet to understand and communicate what’s going on a bit better.

Binary

Would you refer someone to work here? Yes or No

Advantages: Binary questions are easy to analyze and easy for your respondents to answer.

Disadvantages: Yes or no answers can create a bias because you aren’t getting the whole story with this type of question. They are likely to leave you with more questions than answers and fail to identify specific problem areas. The question in the example above begs the follow-up question, “Why?”

Scale

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your work-life balance?

Advantages: As with binary, scale questions are easy to analyze and easy for your respondent to answer. The main advantage is that the scale allows for a more meaningful comparison between respondents and groups of those surveyed.

Disadvantages: The number of divisions on the scale can be problematic. If too few are used, the limited scale can lack meaning. If too many are used, the scale can be difficult for most people to discriminate. Additionally, you don’t learn why the respondents ranked the items the way they did.

Multiple choice

How often do you receive communication from upper management?

  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Monthly
  • At annual company meeting
  • I’ve never received communication from upper management.

Advantages: As with scale questions, multiple-choice questions allow for a comprehensive comparison between respondents and groups surveyed.

Disadvantages: Careful consideration is necessary to determine that you have provided all possible answer choices and that there is only one answer.

Once you’ve identified the number and types of questions in your survey, you need to write the questions. Crafting your survey questions can be tricky because the way they’re written can affect your results. You can sway the survey outcome by writing biased or unclear survey questions.

What are leading questions?

Leading questions are written such that the respondent is forced into an answer that doesn’t accurately reflect their opinion or situation.

Per Survey Monkey, this top survey mistake will frustrate your survey respondents and is one of the leading contributors to respondents abandoning surveys. The trouble is that it’s easy to write a leading question.

Leading questions skew your results because you’re not getting a true picture of what your respondents are thinking.

Leading question: How satisfied are you with internal communications?

Better question: Please rate your level of satisfaction with internal communications.

What are loaded questions?

As with leading questions, loaded questions force respondents into answering the question in a certain way. You keep them from indicating their opinions. By avoiding loaded questions, you get the most truthful survey answers.

How are you made aware of new company policies?

What if some respondents aren’t getting informed of new policies? You want to know that. In this case, the question would only work if the answer choices include “I don’t feel adequately informed of new company policies.”

What are double-barreled questions?

A double-barreled question is a question that asks about two areas of interest in one question. They usually include the words “and” or “or.” They can easily be separated into two different questions.

Rate your level of satisfaction with the frequency and accuracy of internal company communications. 1-5

Your survey questions should pertain to only one subject, to ensure accurate, measurable surveys.

Final thoughts

Comprehensive questionnaires usually include about 50-60 scale questions, as well as a few open-ended questions that ask for employee opinions and perspectives. Any more questions than that and you run the risk of the respondents losing interest. The quality of responses drops off as respondents become tired.

Lastly, it is important is to follow up with the respondents. If your organization takes the time to issue an employee survey and your employees take the time to complete it, it is essential to report the results and follow up with your employees. What improvements will be made in response to the survey results? The results of the survey might not always be what you were hoping for, but open communication is still the best communication.

Is your organization planning a workplace survey? Lexington Writing Firm help create an effective employee questionnaire.

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