Six Proven Pitfalls of Designing an Employee Engagement Survey

When designing and setting up an employee engagement survey, the overriding consideration is to ensure the utilization of good science.

But it’s not just about good science. Even more, it’s about the right science.

Use our six proven pitfalls to avoid key mistakes and ensure your employee engagement survey is designed with the right science so your organization can see the powerful outcomes of doing employee engagement done right.


Forcing A Direction

Don’t rely on a four or six-point scale with no midpoint because it forces respondents to make a stand. Often employees will become frustrated when their perceptions or attitudes are not included as options and may skip the question or provide an inaccurate response.

Inadequate Index Items

Don’t use an index that includes items that employees cannot measure fairly or accurately, such as asking employees about their level of discretionary effort, or asking items like, “Taking everything into account, this is a great place to work.”

Measuring Cause Not Effect

Never include items that are outcomes of engagement as opposed to the drivers of engagement, like having a best friend at work—this is an outcome not a driver.

Also avoid items that ask employees to rate themselves as opposed to manager or leader behaviors. Too many people lose objectivity when rating their own behavior and score themselves too high.

Using Poorly-framed Items

Avoid items that are broad enough to be part of the definition of engagement because they interfere with the priority’s analysis. Additionally, avoid question items that can be interpreted in multiple ways and have different meanings because managers will have challenges determining what to actions to take from them.

Thinking one-size-fits-all

Never let anyone tell you that one-size-fits-all. There are a few select items that are universally important to engagement and merit inclusion on every engagement survey, but there is no single survey that is the best fit for all companies.

Asking Everything

Don’t include more than thirty or thirty-five items. After fifty items, some employees lose interest, begin to respond much less thoughtfully or in random patterns, or stop responding altogether.

When planning and designing your next employee engagement survey, avoid these proven pitfalls as insights to drive the impact and success of your survey efforts.

Learn the 6 powerful practices of designing your employee engagement survey.

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