The Power Of A Staff Survey

Mark Freire

25th April 2017

Here’s a shocking fact. When a senior manager sits down with staff and asks for ‘honest’ opinions on something, they don’t always get the most honest answers.

We have all been in meetings through our careers where everybody is smiling and nodding enthusiastically about the latest plans, only to collectively rip them apart as soon as the bosses are out of the room. The net result; senior managers firmly believe everybody is happy, staff are actually miserable, and the plan fails because it was never a good idea and no one really believed in it.


Throughout corporate history, such a simple cycle has brought down the mightiest of companies.

“If only someone had said something!”

The answer to this age-old problem is as effective as it is simple. The humble staff survey. With it you can engage with your staff, check the validity of your business plans, and create an environment where your top talent thrives and the best in the market want to work.

Yet you’d be surprised about just how many everyday companies don’t effectively canvas the anonymous opinions of staff, or use that data to make positive changes.

At JITR we wholeheartedly embrace our staff survey process. We have run it every six months for several years, and the information we have received has been absolutely crucial to keeping our best people, driving our business success and achieving our ‘Great Place To Work’ accreditation.

Want to harness the power of a good staff survey for your business? Here are our top 5 tips for getting all the advantages of the process.

Trust in the survey process is everything

The perceived effectiveness, anonymity and independence of the survey process is crucial to its success. Although it can be advocated by senior management, it should be published and reported on by an internal or external third party such as your HR manager, your marketing department, or an outside consultancy. If those completing the survey don’t believe in the process, you will not get honest or useful responses.

If you have a strong process then every member of staff can be pushed to complete the survey without fear of repercussions. Your quickest respondents will always be those people most engaged with your business. The most interesting and useful responses you will get are from those who aren’t.

Ask the right questions, in the right way

An effective survey asks unbiased questions about all aspects of your business; from the effectiveness of managers in communicating business plans, to the air temperature of the office. We even use our survey to get ideas for the next company social. So creating the right structure and writing the right kind of questions is essential. If the person administering your survey process has never conducted primary market research or created questionnaires before, they are not the right person for this job.

Take the rough with the smooth

It is not up to senior managers to choose which opinions are correct, and which are not. When you publish your results to the business, it should be in full. The only reason to edit is if comments negatively mention specific co-workers, or make the individuals who wrote them identifiable.

Inevitably there will be areas which don’t make your company look sparkling, but these are best addressed head-on with clear actions rather than being backgrounded or edited out. Manipulation of your results will undermine the whole process.

Don’t over-react to comments

Staff surveys are designed to get a feel of the mood and thoughts of the whole business. Just because one person writes 500 words on how much they hate the yellow wall, doesn’t mean you should immediately be painting it red.

Unless someone suggests an undeniably good idea, try to limit your actions and responses to issues raised by a solid number of people in your survey.

Publish your actions, and deliver on them

One of the key benefits of an effective staff survey is providing information to make your business a better place to work – helping you retain and attract top talent. By deciding on and committing openly to key actions in response to your survey you will drive improvements and show staff the validity of the whole process.

At JITR, we internally publish a list of key actions in response to every six month survey and then ask colleagues how successful those actions have been in the next survey. This has created an amazing process of continual feedback and improvement.

Want to work with a recruitment agency committed to being the best?.
As an accredited ‘Great Place To Work’, JITR have the best talent in the industry with the tools and freedom to ‘find amazing’. Get in contact to find out what our great people can do for your business.