How to Design Inclusive Employee Surveys
(With One Expert Exercise)

Inclusive Employee Survey Design Feature Image

Table of Contents

Answer this question honestly: who are your employee surveys designed for? 

Are they designed for your HR team to take a temperature check on employee engagement levels? 

Are they designed for your managers to be able to report and act on team feedback?

Are they designed for your leaders to be able to track employee loyalty and satisfaction?

Or are they designed for your people to have a voice on what matters to them?

The answer should be “all of the above”: employee surveys should be designed for everyone, which leads us very much onto the topic of inclusive employee survey design.

Inclusive employee survey design

I’m sure we’ve all seen employee survey questions in the past (and probably answered them, too!) like “how motivated are you to go above and beyond what’s required of you?” or “how likely is it that you see yourself working here in 12 months time?”.

Of course, these types of questions remain important employee engagement trackers in surveys—but people might suspect that they’re designed for the HR and leadership team, not for them to share how they really feel.

Let’s remind ourselves, the overarching goal of employee surveys should be to get quality feedback from your workforce so that you can take meaningful action. And the only way to gather quality feedback and drive meaningful action is by designing inclusive employee surveys—the type of employee survey that’s met with the least resistance. 

So how do we do this?

An expert exercise for employee survey design

There’s one exercise that our People Scientists run to get teams exploring the needs of others (and get you crafting surveys that work for everybody). It’s called “perceptual positioning”—and it’s less complicated than it sounds!

The gist of perceptual positioning is empowering people to think about the world from someone else’s point of view, and what that person’s requirements and outlook might be.

And how does that apply to your employee survey design? Well, here’s an overview from Hive’s Director of People Science, Ryan Tahmassebi:

“Start by gathering a focus group—with a mixture of HR practitioners, senior leaders, line managers, and employees.

Whether that’s in-person with flip-charts and post-it notes or through online collaboration tools when virtual, get your groups of stakeholders to identify what it is that they need from employee surveys.

But to really dive into the detail, ask them to document what they think other stakeholders need too. Get senior leaders in the minds of employees. Get HR in the mind of line managers. Get managers in the minds of employees.

What you’re left with are insights that take everyone’s views into account which you can then either factor into your survey design or get your focus group co-designing surveys.”

You’ll no doubt discover things like: 

  • key themes to run pulse surveys on (like wellbeing or diversity and inclusion)
  • how often people would like the opportunity to speak up
  • organisational issues you weren’t already aware of that should be explored as a priority

…and be well equipped to design surveys off the back of your focus groups.

Turning survey insights into survey strategy

An inclusive approach to employee survey design helps to boost participation in the survey itself. But the best part is, when people are invested in the process from the get-go, you’ll get more energy and motivation from stakeholders to explore what the results are and how they can use it to drive positive action in their teams.

With the right blend of questions that a) provide you with the data you need to track engagement and b) give people the opportunity to open up about the things that really matter to them—enthusiasm and action will soar.

You’ll see a tangible difference when your stakeholders feel involved and you build trust from the beginning, allowing you to dive deeper into action-planning and make a real difference.

Good luck with those focus groups!

And remember, our People Scientists are there to give orgs a helping hand with all things employee survey design—from finding the right tone to choosing your question strategy—book a chat with a Hive adviser to hear loads more about our HR partnership.

Free EBook

Creating Employee Surveys that Work for Your Organisation

Covering everything from getting leaders on board and designing a strategy, to writing good questions and getting started with results, this ebook will give you a jumpstart on all things employee feedback and get you well-prepared for your timely new survey launch!

Creating Employee Surveys that Work for Your Organisation