How to measure employee feedback & avoid survey fatigue

By Aimee Happ
January 28, 2021
8 min read

Employees are your organization’s most important asset, which is why it should come as no surprise to anyone how important it is to understand how they think, feel, and understand corporate messaging. But how should you be gathering and measuring employee feedback beyond the occasional all-staff survey?

Gathering employee feedback isn’t always easy, but we’re here to help get you started on your path to success! In this post, we’ll review the following topics:

  1. The value of employee feedback
  2. The methods you can use to evaluate employee feedback
  3. Top six tips on how to avoid survey fatigue
  4. Special notes on sentiment analysis
  5. The tools you need to gather employee feedback

Let’s dive right in!

The value of employee feedback

Employee feedback is important, but why?

For communicators, feedback is data that you can use to understand your audience and drive employee engagement. In turn, better employee engagement can result in many benefits for your organization and your employees’ well-being. You can also use it to help make your future communication activity more effective, using the insights you’ve gathered to adjust your internal communications strategy and tactics.

But it’s not just internal comms professionals who see benefits from employee feedback. HR departments can also use it to create the best employee experience possible and reduce turnover. Company executives, who ultimately aim to have a productive and engaged workforce, know that the best employees are those that feel heard and valued.

What methods can you use to measure employee feedback?

You can use many different methods to gather employee feedback, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Using multiple feedback gathering methods provides more representative insight into your employees’ views and opinions and demonstrates your organization’s commitment to listening.

However, most organizations will only have the resources to implement a couple of different feedback methods, and that’s ok. Develop a strategy that best supports your unique needs and work environment.

Here are a few of the most common ways that you can gather and measure employee feedback:

1. Annual employee surveys

  • Annual employee surveys are comprehensive and standardized, therefore comparable with previous years and between departments.
  • However, they can take a long time to carry out, respond to, and analyze; they are often expensive; and they provide only a “moment in time” snapshot of your current situation.

2. Pulse surveys

  • Frequent “pulse” surveys provide an up-to-date picture of organizational situations, and they are quicker and easier to complete and run than annual employee surveys.
  • However, pulse surveys are less comprehensive and require frequent effort from both respondents and communicators, which sometimes results in survey fatigue (more on that in the next section).

3. Quick polls

  • Quick polls are very quick and easy for respondents and communicators to complete, making immediate reactions possible. There is also not much risk of survey fatigue.
  • However, feedback from quick polls must be taken at face value, as respondents cannot provide context.

4. Suggestion boxes

  • Suggestion boxes are great for offline employees and don’t require much effort to set up.
  • However, they are location-specific, and it’s often difficult to analyze data from them.

5. Interviews & focus groups

  • Interviews and focus groups will provide you with a deep understanding of employee opinions. You can also take a dynamic approach to your questions when facilitating one of these events.
  • However, you must manually analyze results, and generally, you can only run interviews and focus groups with a small number of participants. Significant time and effort are required from both communicators and participants.

6. Sentiment analysis

  • Sentiment provides an effortless analysis of qualitative data and is also less subjective than human analysis.
  • However, this method sometimes brings up ethical concerns. More on this topic later in the blog.

So which methods should you use? There’s no one right answer! Consider what you’re trying to achieve and measure. While your annual survey will undoubtedly provide you with some of the feedback you need, ongoing tactics like polls and quick surveys can give you faster, continuous feedback and insights.

If you’re not currently gathering employee feedback, the best place to start is by doing just that— starting! Any insight into what employees are thinking will be of some use to communicators, and making a start with one feedback gathering exercise is better than doing nothing.

How to avoid survey fatigue

Survey fatigue is when respondents become discouraged from completing surveys, usually because of poorly designed surveys or because respondents receive too many. Because surveys are an essential tool for internal communicators, avoiding survey fatigue is critical.

Here are our top six tips for avoiding survey fatigue at your organization:

1. Reduce the time surveys take to complete

All employee surveys should take no longer than 7-10 minutes to complete. Having difficulty shortening your surveys? Try:

  • Reducing the number of questions as much as possible. Only ask questions that will provide you with useful information.
  • Using survey logic to skip questions that are not relevant for everyone.
  • Avoiding including too many open answer questions—you should only have one or two per survey. Multiple choice or Likert scale questions are much quicker to complete and easier to analyze.

2. Don’t always seek feedback from everyone

Use sample audiences rather than all staff (when appropriate) to help reduce the number of surveys employees receive. To create different groups, you can use information like birthdays or surnames, but always be sure that each group contains various members from different departments or locations to keep your samples representative.

3. Ask for feedback within the channels your employees use most frequently

Use tools like quick polls to implement feedback gathering mechanisms within the content or channels your employees use most often. This will allow respondents to provide feedback on the go. For example, you could ask questions like, “Did you find this content useful?” or “How did the announcement make you feel?” to help capture employees’ immediate reactions with minimal effort required.

4. Make questions easy to understand & answer

Don’t make your respondents think more than needed! Ensure that every question you ask is simple and that you’re using precise language to avoid misinterpretation. Be careful not to ask multiple questions in one!

5. Set expectations

Give respondents an estimate of how long each survey will take to complete before they begin. You should also provide some general information on each survey’s subject matter to avoid surprising your respondents unintentionally.

6. Share results

This is probably the most critical of all—if respondents never hear back about previous surveys’ results, they will be less motivated to complete another. Share the results and any decisions or developments that result from them.

Special notes on sentiment analysis

When discussing employee feedback, sentiment analysis is almost always involved in some way. Sentiment analysis is all about understanding how your audience feels about something, whether it’s an event, an announcement, or just their mood in general. By gaining this understanding, communicators can respond more effectively by adapting their approach to employee communications. For example, if employees indicate a particular presentation style was informative, you can use that style again in the future.

There are two main ways of measuring sentiment:

1. Natural language processing

New natural language processing tools (sometimes called real-time or continuous listening) have become available in recent years. These tools process text-based data sets using machine learning, identifying key themes and offering insight into how respondents feel. Although researchers have always been able to do this manually, the automated process is much quicker and less likely to result in researcher bias.

Today, you can use natural language processing to analyze all employee communications. The software will continuously search for signs of stress, satisfaction, and even happiness in your employees’ communications. However, natural language processing tools are still relatively new and still in need of improvement.

There are also obvious ethical concerns with analyzing all written employee communications. Although most organizations monitor employee communications in some way (usually for inappropriate language), it’s not difficult to imagine many employees’ reactions if they discovered their organization was “snooping” through what they consider to be personal correspondence.

2. Short surveys & polls

Short surveys and polls are another way to measure employee sentiment with no ethical considerations. They are most effective when used directly after a particular message or event. For example, after an HR update, you can send employees a poll with a question like, “Was this message helpful?” and quickly answer yes or no.

This type of feedback gives you the audience’s immediate reaction to something and is great for taking a temperature check. However, keep in mind that it won’t explain why employees feel that way or how you can impact their opinion.

Strong Content

Use IC’s internal communications software to collect & measure employee feedback

The best way to connect with and gather feedback from your employees is with purpose-built internal communications software like our intranet, with multi-channel messaging capabilities. Not only does our software allow you to centralize your communications efforts in one location, but it also allows you to send short surveys and polls to gather employee feedback and sentiment. Then, you can analyze this data directly in the software alongside other critical internal communications metrics (such as message open and click rates) to gain a better understanding of your internal audience. Best of all? There are no apps to download or training required to use it—our software integrates directly with Slack, Microsoft Teams, email, and SMS.

So what are you waiting for? Engage with your employees to create better experiences and drive business results by booking a demo now. If you’re not quite ready to take a demo but are considering improving your internal communications strategy, why not take our free internal communications assessment? You’ll better understand your current program’s strengths and weaknesses and receive free resources to help you make your improvements.

By Aimee Happ

Aimee Happ is proud to lead the marketing team at IC and enjoys working with the dynamic and diverse team that surrounds her. She is inspired on a daily basis by the company's mission of empowering internal communicators. Aimee holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Calgary and loves to travel.