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A well-designed employee attitude survey will tell you what employees think about their jobs and the work environment. Something that seems insignificant, like the break room microwave's power level or the copier's reliability, can cause dissatisfaction that affects productivity and morale. A comprehensive, confidential attitude survey gives employees a safe place to voice their concerns and gives employers a wealth of knowledge on how to create a better work environment.
Decide what you want from the survey. Are you trying to gauge employee morale overall, are you trying to measure employees' reactions to specific initiatives or changes you've made recently, or are you looking for specific areas where you can make improvement? The questions you devise should be tailored to elicit the information you want to get from the survey. Holding focus groups of affected employees will help you understand their concerns, but segregate supervisors from hourly employees to elicit more straightforward discussion about the survey's key topics.
Craft questions or attitude statements. These are critical to the success of any survey. Avoid those that focus on more than one issue. If a yes-or-no question is "Should we have more microwaves and refrigerators in the break room?" it's confusing to a respondent who believes there are enough of one, but not the other. Likewise, avoid agree/disagree statements that provide issues and reasons together, such as "We need a television in the break room so people can watch sports," because those who would prefer to watch the news might strongly disagree. Keep the survey manageable. A few well-written questions are better than dozens of confusing or repetitive questions.
Choose a rating scale. A rating scale from one to four or one to six, with one being the highest or most desirable, is one way to score survey questions, and requires people to be positive or negative. Scales with an odd number of choices, such as one-to-five, give respondents a comfortable middle ground that's hard for you to evaluate. These scales give intensity, but not keys to why the person chose that particular rating. Open ended-questions requiring written comments give more information but are more difficult to categorize and quantify.
Test the survey and revise as necessary. Pilot it with a cross-section of employees. Compile those results and hold another focus group to get feedback. For example, respondents may have interpreted a question very differently than you intended. Be open to the feedback and adjust the questions and survey length accordingly.
Choose a delivery system. Depending on the capabilities of those taking the survey, you may need paper and pencil and/or online survey access. Confidentiality and ease is key to employee participation. Set a time limit to complete the survey and promote it to the employees.
Compile, analyze and share the results. Show your employees you appreciate their effort and time by quickly analyzing the responses and sharing the results. Negative comments about employees or managers should remain private. Surveys are not an opportunity to embarrass anyone, and you should be careful to protect the privacy of all involved.
Mary Nestor-Harper has more than 12 years as a human-resources director and more than 19 years experience as an HR/management consultant. She has been published in "Training Magazine," "The Savannah Morning News" and on the Web. A television and radio business, career and motivation expert, she shares career and job search tips as Ageless Media Network's career expert on WTKS-AM 1290, Savannah, Ga.