- management for the rest of us

Employee Satisfaction Survey: Get your employees opinions in 5 (+ 1) steps

By Lyndsay Swinton

Why bother doing an employee satisfaction survey? Surely only out of touch managers don't know what their team is thinking and feeling? Like many corporate tools, team "climate" surveys can be used for the greater good or can be a tick-the-box, aren't I a fabby manager waste of effort. Here's how to create your own employee satisfaction survey and get meaningful, actionable feedback from your work-mates.


Step 1 - don't ask if you're not prepared to listen.

If you're not prepared to make meaningful changes, then don't bother with employee satisfaction surveys. Pretending to listen does more damage than not listening at all.

First and foremost, get it clear in your head what you are prepared to do when you receive the feedback from your team. Are you both willing and able to put the time into improving your team's health at work?

Most of us can't read minds, so the simplest way to find out how your team is doing, is to ask them. A detailed and efficient way to do this is to send out an employee satisfaction survey.


Step 2 - design your survey without re-inventing the wheel

When you're designing a survey, the two main considerations are the questions and the rating scale. You could start from scratch and write your own questions but who wants extra work when Survey Monkey has done it for free (yay!).

Go to, click "My Surveys", and select the "Job Satisfaction Survey". This is the basis of the survey I sent out to my team - I spent a short time tweaking the questions and had them approved by the company director's. Easy peasy.

Tip - add an overall satisfaction question along the lines of "Overall I am satisfied working with ABCWidgets Ltd". This is a great thermometer of how people feel. Often, even though there may be a few niggles and gripes, they are happy to be there.. Or not!

(Survey Monkey has great on-site guidance, so I won't go into the minute details of how I edited the pre-made survey - if I managed to do it, anyone can :o)

Next, I made a slightly off-beat decision about the rating scale. Instead of the usual highly satisfied smiley face dropping to a highly dissatisfied grumpy face, I decided to have only 3 choices, and all of them with a positive bias.

And of course, the ubiquitous "N/A" - not applicable.

Is that fair? In my case it worked fine, but if you've never done a employee satisfaction survey before or have a new team, then I'd suggest adding at least one further option on the rating scale which allows for a neutral or negative response. Again, changing the rating scale is easy peasy on Survey Monkey (and no, I'm not an affiliate or shareholder!)

When you're done tweaking and polishing the survey, send it to a privileged colleague for sanity check and proof read. Then you're ready to send it out!


Step 3 - let the survey loose.

Sending out and collecting surveys can be an administrative nightmare. Who did you send it to? Have they got it? Have they returned it, on time? Did you receive the response? Have you chased all the stragglers? How do I number crunch the results? Argh!

My good friend Survey Monkey takes care of all that palaver. You can copy and paste code into an email which you send out, or better still, you upload the email addresses and Survey Monkey does the rest.

The second option is the tidiest solution, however, annoyingly some of my emails ended up in junk folders, even after I'd white-listed Survey Monkey's email address. If that's likely to happen for your communication set-up, you'd be better off sending out your own emails (but you lose the ability to track who's completed the survey).


Step 4 - And the survey says.?

Here's a snippet of my recent team climate survey results.

Assuming you've written the questions correctly, you'll get good honest feedback which you can choose to act on. Or not.

So looking at these results in depth.. We're a hard working team, who often bite off way more than we can chew, which is reflected in the spread of people with manageable workloads, and people who are floundering. This concerns me a little, until I see the next answer, where most people are working within reasonable timeframes. Alarm bells would be ringing if people said their workloads were both high and to tight deadlines.

View full employee satisfaction survey results.


Step 5 - Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
(The more things change, the more things stay the same).

It's really up to you how to interpret the results and what actions to take. There are many ways to eat the elephant, just make sure it's transparent and involves all the affected people in some way.

One option is to review the results yourself or with a couple of managers and then communicate your action plan to the team. Or you could allow the whole team to come up with an action plan to resolve any key points for concern. There is no right answer; as long as you take action.

Here are some of the ongoing activities related to our team development;

  • Continued rolling out our company goals and refocused our monthly 121's and quarterly business reviews.
  • Created our own Personal Development Plans to motivate us to learn and develop.
  • Continued with team building activities including quick ice-breakers, off-site activities and so on.
  • The managing director holds daily "surgeries" to help the team to progress projects that need his input
  • Our off site creative director makes weekly phone contact with all team members to keep in touch.
  • Reminded everyone to be on the lookout for exceptional effort and "big-up" your team member.
  • Included our two key contractors in monthly meetings and will start to provide them quarterly business updates.
  • We all get stuck into our quarterly "tidy up" hour to blitz the office and get rid of accumulated mess.

Step 6 - let's do it all again!

Whether you've got glorious results or there is room for improvement, it's important to repeat the survey. I'd recommend waiting at least 6 months before you do the big-boy survey again, however if there are lots of actions, you might consider a mini survey in 3 months time, just to check progress (and keep you to your word for making the changes!)

There's no such thing as too much information about how your team think and feel about their work. And since Survey Monkey allows you to effortlessly design and administer an employee satisfaction survey, the only friction slowing you down is you. Be brave and ask your people what they honestly think, you might be pleasantly surprised. And even if there are a few problem areas, you'll know what's causing the rot and have a starting point for real change.


By Lyndsay Swinton
Owner, Management for the Rest of Us


Team Climate Survey Summary Download 'Employee Satisfaction Survey: Get your employees opinions in 5 (+ 1) steps' in pdf format

Citation Information: Swinton, Lyndsay. "Employee Satisfaction Survey: Get your employees opinions in 5 (+ 1) steps." 11 June 2009. < >.

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