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7 tips for getting actionable insights from your surveys

If your business truly cares for its staff, employee surveys should never be seen as just a box to tick or a ‘nice-to-have’. If approached in the correct way, these surveys can be used to gather leading data. This data will provide actionable insights that will support and help fix key issues that occur within your organisation. For example, issues around recruitment, retention, and customer service.

However, deeply insightful data won’t just come at the click of a finger. If you want to see real change come from your employee surveys, your surveys must be curated carefully. They require a collection of intentional and probing questions, set up to ensure that data is collected confidentially, where insights can be dissected from key demographics.

Gaining a clear understanding of what it is employees need, that’s based on data rather than guesswork, can save your organisation valuable time and money whilst, at the same time, increasing employee engagement and morale. But how can you deliver meaningful surveys to staff that will drive change?

Clearly define the surveys’ purpose

Sending out a survey with unclear goals will lead to unclear results. And what’s the use in gathering data that holds no true value or meaning? A good survey involves setting objectives to have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve or discover. For example, “we want to understand why staff turnover is increasing or why productivity has reduced”.

Ask relevant questions

Keeping your survey relevant and to the point will help with both the quality and quantity of your responses. So, ensure the questions you’re asking link back to your objectives and desired outcome, and avoid tossing in any ‘nice-to-haves’. These won’t provide actionable insights to help meet your objectives.

Keeping your survey relevant also means avoiding making it too long. If a respondent loses interest, they may abandon your survey all together. This makes the data more difficult to interpret. It may even leave you wondering whether you should use the data at all!

Send out your surveys at the right time

Key milestones in the employee lifecycle are optimum moments in time to collect insights. For example, after an employee has received a promotion, or 2-3 months after a new starter has joined the business. The same also applies to any significant events that may have affected your organisation – both internally and externally. This could be anything from shifting to a hybrid working model (changing from fully office-based work), to international economic or social challenges.

Surveys that are relayed at times of heightened emotions – be it positive or negative – will provide rich and relevant data and will help you understand what’s driving certain behaviours.

Use both open and closed questions

The way questions are asked in surveys will determine the sort of responses received. That’s why it’s important to seek to gain valuable and actionable insights from employees using both closed-ended questions and open-ended questions. Closed-ended questions will provide quantitative data that’s easy to analyse, whereas open-ended questions will generate qualitative responses with detail on the ‘why’. Both types of questions will play their part in understanding the areas of your business which can be improved on, and what actions need to be taken.

Get your employee data in order

Make analysing your data easier and pinpoint any specific challenges by putting the appropriate employee demographics in place. This might include gender, age range, or department. There may have been an issue that’s occurred that has only impacted your Sales team, or only female employees – so by implementing a good level of detail into your surveys, the appropriate changes can be implemented, and/or the correct initiatives can be put in place to address them.

Use an employee engagement platform which has extensive reporting capabilities

Gathering and visually seeing your data is one thing, but what does it all mean? Utilising an employee engagement platform will enable your organisation to clearly spot trends. It will also make the process of digesting the insights much faster and much easier.

With WorkBuzz, your organisation can take your employee analytics up a notch with Text Analytics. Designed to gain a more in depth understanding of how employees are feeling, Text Analytics uses AI algorithms to analyse employee comments (from your all-important open-ended questions!) to surface actionable insights. And opinions, judgements, and emotions are scanned to determine sentiment, enabling a quick analysis of your qualitative data.

Get external support in the form of People Science

As an HR leader, we know you always have a lot on your plate. But you can’t do everything! Sometimes it’s best to take on an external view of your data to understand what it’s really telling you. At WorkBuzz, our People Science team will take a close look into your data and provide you critical feedback on why your workforce may be behaving in the way that they do, and what the best course of action is.


Research by Harvard Business Review has found that employees value having their say (through the use of surveys) even if they don’t get their way. It’s the most important and beneficial first step to creating ongoing individual and meaningful relationships with your employees. This is because you’re providing them with a voice.

Whilst the tips outlined above show how straightforward it can be to conduct an impactful survey, it is however important to outsource for this type of research. This is because it adds an important layer between employees and managers. It also ensures confidentiality and protects employee feedback, and reassures employees that their data is protected.

To learn more about what WorkBuzz do, book a demo with us to view how our platform works, and how it can work for your organisation.

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