The advent of low-cost, easy-to-use measurement tools such as Zoomerang, Survey Monkey and Hosted Survey has opened the door to communicators eager to assess their employee communications efforts. These tools offer templates, sample questions and instant reporting features, along with the ability to customize the look and feel of the survey to match the company’s branding.
I encourage my clients to take advantage of these types of online survey tools, and work with them to set up post-event surveys, as well as ongoing employee polls to gather information on employee issues and morale concerns.
But when it comes to a more complex survey, such as an annual employee opinion survey, I advise them to bring in the big guns and hire a professional research firm to conduct the assessment.
A professional survey provider brings to the table a number of advantages that communications generalists can’t offer, such as:
- Knowledge of best practices – how to drive responses, how to report results effectively, and how your company stacks up against others of similar size and type
- Understanding of the latest survey technology and knowledge of the best product for your circumstances
- Survey design expertise – not just the look and feel of the survey, but also the development of the questions themselves
- Assessment and analysis – advice on how to interpret the data and how to report it to senior management and back to the employees
Probably the biggest advantage that a professional survey provider offers is that of being an outsider. They come to the table free of any internal bias that might slant the survey questions or even color the results. That “outsider” status often results in more candid responses from employees, since they know their comments can’t be traced back to their user ID. Plus, senior management will likely take less offense at critical verbatim comments when delivered by “the survey guys” instead of the employee communications manager.
Employee surveys are a valuable tool, and in the hands of an expert, can help identify the company’s core strengths, as well as areas of concern.
Susan C. Rink is principal of Rink Strategic Communications, which helps clients take their employee communications to the next level. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.