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Are annual surveys a waste of time?

Each and every year, the world continues to evolve at a fast pace. And the wants and needs of employees continue to change along with this too. That’s where annual surveys can come in handy – and it’s a practice utilised by many.

In fact, data from our State of Employee Engagement report shows that 31.13% of organisations only issue engagement surveys annually – although, this is a reduction from 41% in 2021 (and a whopping 62% in 2019). It’s clear that this is an employee listening practice still valued by many. But on the other hand, it’s a questionable approach give the current war for talent.

It’s no secret that engagement in the workplace is vital to business performance. But should this mean that to increase employee engagement, it should require a lot more organisational effort than just sending out something on an annual basis?

What is an annual employee engagement survey? 

An annual employee engagement survey is a tool that’s used by leadership teams once a year to gain feedback from staff. They are designed to measure how motivated and engaged staff are to perform their job each day. And the results from this type of survey will provide an insight into employee thoughts and attitudes towards their workplace and its environment.

The challenge with annual surveys

Despite the good intention of understanding employee sentiment and perception of the workplace through an annual survey, this process can be inefficient at the best of times.

They’re not frequent enough

One of the top issues with annual surveys is that… they’re relayed annually! Employee engagement levels are forever shifting because they’re dependent on so many factors. Therefore, survey results collected once a year aren’t going to be an accurate reflection of reality.

An annual survey will make it easy to miss out on leading data that could potentially indicate an area for concern. And the infrequency of relaying surveys will make it difficult to spot trends in your insights. This may result in employee(s) resigning because of issues not being rectified in a timely manner.

They cover too many topics

A lot can happen in the space of a year. And as a business, you’ll naturally want to find out about it all with a range of differing questions. But this can lead to survey response fatigue.

Truth is, if your non-compulsory annual survey is too long for staff to complete, chances are they will not get to the end. And if the survey is compulsory, employees may be rushing to finish it, producing less-truthful answers. This will ultimately impact the effectiveness of the data received. And what’s more, because an annual survey can be so long, it’s often the case that it takes a lengthy amount of time to analyse the data to draw out significant insights. This will therefore prolong how quickly responses are actioned.

Unable to gain feedback on time sensitive matters

There a several moments across the employee lifecycle that may require robust employee listening. For example, the onboarding process for a new member of staff, or a team restructure. But insights on important moments like these won’t be able to be collated efficiently if staff are only questioned about it many months later. Sensitive subjects tend to have a small window in which they should be acknowledged, and it’s critical to not miss these.


Surveying to learn more about engagement rates is a staple of running a business effectively. So, in the grand scheme of things, no – annual surveys are not a waste of time. However, they should be used as part of a continuous, ongoing employee listening strategy to be worth your while. Because let’s be honest, if you really do want to solve declining engagement issues, you must, as soon as you can, go straight to the source: your people!

An ongoing employee listening strategy includes listening practices such as pulse surveys, polls, onboarding surveys, and exit surveys. That’s where WorkBuzz can help! We can show you how our platform supports all these listening practices, collating your data clearly into one place. Just start by completing the form below and someone from our team will be in contact with you shortly.

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