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5 Questions to NEVER Ask in an Employee Feedback Survey

never ask an employee
Gathering employee feedback is an important part of keeping your team happy. And while there are certain questions or topics you should be sure to cover in each of your employee feedback surveys, others aren’t as helpful. Below is a list of five questions that might present problems during the process of collecting employee feedback.

Are you making enough money?

While it might be helpful to learn how satisfied your employees are with their compensation and benefits, this exact question can present problems. How many people do you know who don’t wish they were making more money? The wording of this question almost ensures that most people will present a negative response. It also could present the idea that your company can afford to give raises to everyone who wishes they could make more money. If that isn’t the case, your employees might feel that you aren’t concerned with their responses or opinions.

Wording this question differently could make a big difference. Asking “how satisfied are you with your overall compensation package” can give you the information you’re looking for while keeping it high-level enough to avoid the knee-jerk negative response. Be careful of breaking out response options to involve specific aspects of the compensation package; keep it focused on the overall compensation and add an open-ended text question to let the employees bring up specific items. In this way, you aren’t feeding employees their responses, and if pay happens to be top of mind for many of your employees, you hear about it directly from them and can hopefully get a better understanding of why they might not be happy about it.

What do you think of management?

Again, you want to know what your employees think of their superiors and the way they are supervised. But, unless you intend this to be an open-ended text question, the wording of this question is too general. There are a lot of things that go into managing a team. With this question, at the most you can find out whether your employees are satisfied with management as a whole or not. But that doesn’t give you any concrete ways to make improvements.

Splitting this question into a few different ones could give you a more accurate picture of what you might need to improve. For instance, you could ask about the level of supervision, the management team’s performance, and the incentives provided. That would help you actually make some concrete decisions and changes if necessary.

What is your name?

Employees want to know that their employee feedback survey responses are going to be kept anonymous. That anonymity will allow them to provide you with feedback that’s actually honest. So if you ask their name or any other demographic information that could be used to identify them, they might not feel comfortable taking the survey. And if they do take it, chances are the won’t be as honest as you’d hope.

Appropriate demographic questions for an employee feedback survey include the department or the group the individual works in, but, again, if the team only has two members on it, chances are you will be able to identify a particular respondent. Keep the demographics as high level as possible if you need to look at breakdowns by department, but avoid questions that could eventually allow you to identify any individual.

Would you be more satisfied if the company provided a better benefits package?

The first issue with this question is that it is a leading question – a question that almost guarantees you’re putting the idea into the respondents’ mind on how to answer. The second issue is that, unless you are intending to change a benefits package, you should stay away from asking about it. The third issue is that it is too general. If you are actually planning on changing a benefits package, ask specific questions about the types of packages you are considering, or gather information about what is important to your employees when it comes to benefits. This information will be far more useful than a general, leading question that is likely to be answered with an overwhelmingly negative response.

Do you think the company should work to improve teamwork and workplace culture?

Double-barreled questions like this present a few different problems. First, they can confuse survey takers by asking about multiple things at once. Your employees might have a different opinion about the teamwork and the overall culture of your workplace. In that case, they wouldn’t really know how to answer the question if they have to pick one option to basically answer two questions. That confusion could also skew your data. And the whole point of these surveys is to figure out what your employees actually think and feel so that you can make improvements to make them happier at work.

For truly actionable information, split this into different questions. Start by asking about their level of satisfaction with the level of teamwork, and another question would ask about their satisfaction with the workplace culture. Each of these could be followed up with an open-ended text question asking what specifically could be improved for each area. This way, you have both quantitative and qualitative information for the questions to help feed your decision-making process.

Questions you shouldn’t ask [1] photo via Shutterstock