Survey Sense

By | November 8, 2013

No, this is not a survey of “sense,” but an introduction to the nature and purposes of surveys that can be conducted by or for businesses and other organizations.  In this case, the surveys in question pertain primarily to those that are conducted to ascertain the attitudes of people at work or in other situations, such as while attending a church or a synagogue or while working for non-profit organizations or other entities.

One of the most basic considerations in any survey is this:  Any organization should know what it wants to know before it conducts a survey so that it will know what to ask, as well as how to ask something.  The second is this:  It must know how to analyze the data that it gets from the survey.

Many large companies, as well as many consulting organizations, have their own versions of employee surveys, most of which have evolved over time until the “ideal” generic survey is deemed to have arrived.  At that point, such a survey becomes the “standard” that is generally used without much variation.

However, generic surveys are just good starting points or foundations for  organization-specific surveys.  For example, a survey of employees of a service organization will not cover all of the things that need to be known about employees in a manufacturing plant.  Other examples could be cited as well.

Again, for best results, a company should decide what it needs to know before conducting a survey, and then modify a generic survey to provide needed information.  If such is not available, the company should use qualified personnel to develop an appropriate survey.

Companies that are large enough to have their own HR departments often have their own in-house surveys that they conduct from time to time.  These are convenient, but not necessarily as objective as they should be or could be.  When objectivity starts to go, so does validity.  Company leaders who are astute and who desire to maintain the integrity of in-house HR departments and their surveys will utilize outside consultants from time to time to check on the validity of in-house surveys.

Conducting a survey amounts to far more than handing out forms with questions to be answered and then adding the number of responses in each category in order to calculate a positive:negative ratio or some other measure.