Traditional employee surveys cover topics such as morale, well-being, job likes/dislikes, training and personal/career development.

However, since companies are increasingly seeing their employees as a major asset, most surveys now include wide-ranging satisfaction measures, on the basis that satisfied staff will stay with the firm longer, helping to increase productivity, customer satisfaction etc.

Employee surveys are usually commissioned on a regular basis (6-monthly or annually), wherever possible involve interviews with all employees (terminology: “a census”), with results being published and discussed openly. All three factors demonstrate that everybody has a valid view, that problems cannot be ignored or covered up, and that continual improvement is required.

A combination of qualitative and quantitative techniques is normally used. Individual depth interviews and discussion groups are often used to understand topical issues that may need to be included in the quantitative phase. Quantitative interviews are usually conducted by telephone or self-completion and, increasingly, questionnaires are being placed on the company’s web site or intranet (ensuring low cost and quick response).

Incentives are not normally offered since these can be seen as management bribes. It is usually sufficient for the company to state openly that their employees’ frank views are being sought and that participation in the survey should be made during office hours.