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e n t e r p r i s e s u r v e y s

a s t r a t e g i c o r g a n i z a t i o n a l t o o l

d o y o u r e a l l y k n o w w h a t y o u r p e o p l e t h i n k ?


v o l u m e t h i r t e e n



drake international

north america

vancouver•edmonton calgary•winnipeg london•hamilton oakville•mississauga toronto•belleville brockville•kingston cornwall•ottawa montréal•quebec city moncton•halifax plantation•los alamitos arcadia•irvine

contact drake for more information on how our

hr consulting services and enterprise survey


will help your organization drive

organizational productivity and profitability

call +

1 800

go drake


e n t e r p r i s e s u r v e y s

a strategic organizational tool

do you really know what your people think?

© Drake International NA volume thirteen www.drakewebinars.com





:: introduction

The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” —Ralph Nichols

• Does your organization have a finger on the pulse of your employees? • How are you creating organizational alignment?

When a senior manager at a bank recently polled employees, she was “shocked by results from a questionnaire on job satisfaction. Those few who bothered to fill it out said they found management so controlling, they avoided taking initiative.” The survey results made her realize the critical need “to get people more engaged”. To identify the issues and to put in place initiatives to address concerns. 1

There are many compelling reasons to conduct enterprise surveys—to increase employee morale, get to the bottom of key organizational issues and build an engaged workforce. Numerous studies have linked employee loyalty, customer loyalty and financial results to one another. Enterprise surveys are a key instrument that communicates to employees that their opinions matter, enabling companies to identify what issues need to be addressed. It has been demonstrated that employee dissatisfaction leads to lower productivity and higher turnover, having a significant impact on organizational performance. Clearly, anything that can reduce the investment of time and money currently channeled into sourcing, hiring and training new employees is beneficial. If you carry out a well-crafted, well-orchestrated survey—and you listen, consult and act on the results over time—positive effects will emerge on your company’s bottom line.

In this whitepaper we will explore key reasons for conducting surveys, identify issues that might arise, focus on the way to conduct a state-of-the-art enterprise survey utilizing benchmark technologies, and provide an overview of the various types of surveys available to meet your organization’s needs.


1 ::


2 ::

what are enterprise surveys?

3 ::

why conduct them?

4 ::


5 ::

conducting enterprise surveys

6 ::

design fundamentals

7 ::

action planning and implementing results

8 ::


9 ::

return on investment

10 ::


11 ::

tips and checklist

© Drake International NA volume thirteen 1 :: “the globe and mail,” wednesday, september 14, 2005






:: what are enterprise surveys?

• If you were to ask your employees what they think of your company, what results would you find?

• Would it be valuable to turn the information obtained into positive change for your organization?

An enterprise survey is a structured process in which staff can openly discuss their opinions of the organization without fear of reprisal. They can review key areas that the organization has deemed important (like culture, company strategy, career development, reward systems, training, onboarding, orientation, and customer service) and provide input and ideas on what is working well and what is not. The aim is to present staff with a comfortable methodology that encourages them to give frank and honest answers on a variety of topics in a manner that they find comfortable.

”...Surveys can vary from a thorough systematic study of the attitudes of your employees towards all aspects of their employment or focus on a particular aspect on which you require feedback, either because you suspect there is a problem, or because you are contemplating change.”2 When

done well, they provide an upward feedback mechanism that your workforce is able to use to provide opinions on how it perceives the company is being managed. The result is an engaged and empowered employee population that believes it has an impact on how an organization is being run. But, like any audit, they serve as a summary of employee opinion at a given point in time. To truly be of use, surveys cannot simply be performed once—that snapshot will change. All organizations reap enormous benefit from the strategic opportunity surveys provide to look inside the minds of employees and take the pulse of the company on an ongoing basis.


:: why conduct them?

“Where an opinion is general, it is usually correct.”

—Jane Austin

• Would you like to uncover key organizational issues that would lead to demonstrable improvements?

• Do you want your workforce to provide feedback and

suggestions on how to improve and feel more engaged and committed to your company?

Employee engagement is a central goal of smart companies these days. They understand that a company is only as good as its employees and that there is great value in knowing the opinions, drivers and behaviours of their workforce— using this information to make the most of their employees. Numerous studies have established that few employees are engaged and that a moderate increase in the amount of employee engagement can garner huge returns for a company.3 Being aware of what employees are saying about

their work experience provides insight into a company’s key issues and makes crucial information available—information that can be positively applied to the future. No tool is more effective in accomplishing these goals, than the enterprise survey.


Some of the many important benefits that organizations conduct enterprise surveys for, are that they:

• Are a strategic organizational tool that allow companies to tune in to what employees are really thinking, learn what they don’t know and identify important organizational issues

• Provide an assessment of current organizational culture and gauge the level of employee engagement

• Are a vehicle for upward feedback, allowing employees to communicate views, concerns and suggestions to organizational leaders

• Isolate the root causes of continuing problems, such as high turnover or low productivity

• Serve as a catalyst for cultural change

• Enable organizations to focus, with confidence, on finding solutions to issues that will lead to profitable improvements • Afford an opportunity to correct problems early and capitalize

quickly on successes

• Make available important objective information for mapping a company’s future

• Ensure the organization is running its business ethically • Provide a benchmark against which to measure improvements

and the effectiveness of previous initiatives

• Provide positive reinforcement of the company’s desire to involve its employees in its decision-making

• Ultimately lead to a more committed workforce, fostering stronger employee relations by creating an environment of openness and trust

• Empower employees—this leads to higher retention rates, lower absenteeism, improved productivity, better customer service, improved morale, and measurable savings4 developing happier

customers and stronger financial results5





volume thirteen 2 :: “best practices for employee surveys,” gilbert, slavney and tong (79) 3 :: “gallup study: unhappy workers are unhealthy too”, january 13, 2005, gmj.gallup.com (50) 4 :: “soliciting employee feedback: getting results,” national business research institute, inc. www.nbrii.com/employee_surveys/employee_feedback.pdf





:: pitfalls

“Obstacles are the frightening things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” —Henry Ford

• Who is the principal sponsor of the survey? • What are the topics that are to be covered?

Almost all of the potential pitfalls typically used as excuses for those resistant to a survey can be addressed. Some of the most common protests and the recommended strategies for overcoming them are:


Companies often fear surveying can become an invitation to complaints and while this frequently happens, it is critical to recognize the importance of providing an outlet to voice concerns and to identify areas of real frustration. This is why using the consulting services of a third party is often critical. An objective third party—one without a stake in either employee or management positions—can provide a needs analysis and an overall solution that can migrate negative feedback into positive action.

However, without long-term commitment from the top down, staff may view the process as an employee relations exercise. To be effective, management must plan the time to be involved, take the results seriously, share them no matter what they are, be responsible for appropriate action, and, ensure the survey is not a one-off undertaking.

Failure to Communicate

The significance of the survey must be communicated in a consistent and comprehensive manner. Failure to do so results in mixed messages and fuels employee uncertainty, negatively impacting the quality of information collected. Communicating often and using all channels available, spreads awareness and reinforces the importance placed on participation.


Timing must be controlled, taking into account when the workforce is available, business planning cycles, and whether or not the climate is right. Organizations should not carry out surveys when labour negotiations, serious problems or orga-nizational changes are occurring. Also, it is important that the timeframe between the survey and the results is not too long. Conducting an opinion survey implies that there will be an effect; that something will be done. By surveying and not acting on the information, any positive outcome will be lost and future attempts to get people to provide feedback will be negatively impacted. Don’t do surveys unless you’re prepared to take action in a timely manner.


The budget allocated must cover all stages of the survey— otherwise employees will question the commitment to the process.

Survey Design

This is where particular care is required. If questions are asked improperly, they may send the wrong message and the results will be unreliable. Including questions on which the organization is unprepared to take action on, or that are not relevant to the employer’s mission, raises expectations. Questions must be carefully selected and worded to guarantee significant issues will be addressed.


It’s important to obtain high response rates and to ensure all employees are surveyed. Random sampling or low response rates can bring about challenges to the validity of the survey. Results can be questioned, possibly disengaging employees and diminishing the survey’s value. Smaller sample sizes can be significantly swayed by one or two employees. Larger sam-ple sizes are better indications of true employee opinion but not providing results at the individual level can give rise to misleading assumptions about where issues reside.

Conducting surveys sends a positive message throughout the organization that the employer is genuinely interested in learning about what is going right and what is going wrong. Establishing an atmosphere that encourages the expression of frank, forthright opinions about the company, and that enables the creation of meaningful results, should be the goal of every enterprise survey.



© Drake International NA volume thirteen www.drakewebinars.com




© Drake International NA volume thirteen www.drakewebinars.com


:: conducting enterprise surveys

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” —Alan Lakein

• When is the best time to administer a survey?

• How will the survey be integrated into broader company initiatives?

Like all effective initiatives, implementing an enterprise survey involves planning. The creation of a governance policy, clarifying objectives, establishing timelines, allocating resources, identifying topics, and the reporting structure are just some of the areas to consider. Once these elements are dealt with, survey items need to be developed with the input of key constituents. Administrative details must also be addressed, including who will receive the survey, communication, and timing. After the survey is conducted, the data has to be tabulated and reports generated. The results are made available to senior management and employees, often in a cascaded fashion. This is followed by action-planning to analyze and identify priorities. Key recommendations are implemented and monitored; regular updates are provided and progress is communicated. The cycle is then repeated each time the survey is carried out.

This extensive data management is best handled with technologies like Drake’s survey tools. Other, more traditional methods of surveying can be time consuming and represent a major distraction when conducted without the benefit of a third party subject matter expert. A Drake Solutions Manager would typically conduct a full needs analysis to determine which technology would best enable a solution tailored to your organization.

Intrapersonal Skills

Integral to the realization of any initiative is effective communication. Organizations must keep employees informed through all phases of the survey, including preparation, data collection, action planning and implementation. An effective strategy for strengthening communication is to brand the survey. A name, logo and tagline will provide continuity and raise the survey profile by making it more memorable. This also offers a simple means of linking results and subsequent actions to the survey and signaling the ongoing nature of the initiative.

A communication plan needs to be developed that gets out the key messages—the objectives and rationale, the timeframe, the importance of participation, how results will be reported and action priorities identified and implemented; highlight and recognize successes that result from the process. Be sure to allow for two-way communication. Failure to communicate effectively leads to confusion and frustration on the part of employees and may ultimately doom any initiatives that emanate from it.

Suggestions that cannot be implemented in a timely manner should be explained. Changes that are made must be tied back to the survey. Employees should never question whether their input has been listened to. It is the failure to link improvements back to the survey that leads to the perception that nothing will be done with recommendations. Communicating effectively throughout the process establishes a solid foundation for future surveys.


Opinions vary regarding how often surveys should be conducted. Most experts recommend they be conducted annually, at a minimum, and that the commitment be for the long term. If you conduct a survey only once, you lose the value that they present in monitoring progress over time and in uncovering new or developing issues. If surveys are conducted too often then “rater fatigue” can occur with those conducting the survey. To be effective the survey process should be scheduled so that any initiatives that come out of it can be incorporated into the business planning cycle.

Once it has been distributed, allow enough time for staff to consider their responses before completing the survey. Providing the opportunity to fill it out while at work will increase response rates.

When the data has been collected, compile it and release it so that all employees are informed of the results without unnecessary delays. Doing this will signal that the information collected matters, and that management has given it high priority.





© Drake International NA volume thirteen www.drakewebinars.com


:: design fundamentals

“If you don’t have time to do it right when will you have time to do it over?” —John Wooden

• Do you have the expertise available to construct your survey to get the information you need?

• What methods will you use to distribute and collect the feedback?

Thorough and knowledgeable design makes the difference between a good and a bad survey. There are many design considerations to take into account to make certain the information gathered is unbiased. Determining the types of questions to ask, how to word them, the categories to include, scale size, whether to include open-ended questions, validity, and reliability are just some of the details that must be addressed.

The structure and design of the questions are the foundation of any successful enterprise survey. When compiling your company’s questions keep in mind the end goal—to learn as much about your organization from your employees as you can. A random list of questions quickly put together will not lead to valuable answers. Recent design trends advocate the use of behaviourally-anchored questions that are linked to company performance. Questions need focus and should follow a logical order.

Don’t make the survey too long. Typically it should take no more than 20 minutes to do, with the number of closed (for example, yes / no) questions to be in the 40–70 range . Only a limited number of open-ended questions should be included.


In determining how you will send out your survey and receive results, it is critical that anonymity is preserved. This promotes honest feedback. Without this, employees will not feel comfortable providing candid responses. Survey everyone in your company to make certain they all feel that they’ve had an opportunity to contribute. Depending on the type of business you are in, you may want to include contingency staff, particularly if they have contact with your clients.

In coding your survey, divide it so that you are able to obtain results at the department and at the team level, but be careful that the unit size guarantees employee confidentiality. Once the survey results have been collated, present the data in an easy-to-understand manner.

Data Distribution and Collection

Traditionally, employee surveys have been conducted using written questionnaires, but is this still the best method of distribution?

Let us examine the most common means of collecting data:

Focus Groups / Individual Interviews

These are most useful at the beginning of the survey process, to identify broad areas of concern, and again at the end, to obtain feedback on specific issues. However, as the sole surveying method they are not recommended, as they do not reflect the employee population as a whole

Voice Activated Software (telephone)

Provided you are not asking many questions, telephone survey software can be quick for the user and relatively cost effective. However, this technology can be slow and cumbersome to tabulate, has no visual support, and leads to rater fatigue

Written Questionnaires

Although this is the traditional and most common method, even with scanning technology to tabulate results, written questionnaires are slow, require extensive person power and are logistically complex

On Site Computer-based Surveys

Sent via email, or made available on an intranet site, computer-based surveys suffer in particular from a perceived lack of confidentiality. This can negatively impact response rates and the quality of the information is affected

Web-based Surveys

These allow employees to record answers to questions simply and easily at any computer, anytime. They are affordable and interactive, enable customization and typically lead to higher response rates in shorter timeframes. Using a web-based survey, such as Drake’s survey technologies do, increases survey participation by having employees complete the survey whenever and wherever they would like on an external third party server—ensuring anonymity






:: action planning & implementing


“A thought which does not result in an action is nothing much, and an action which does not proceed from a thought is nothing at all.” —Georges Bernanos

• How do you identify key areas for action?

• What organizational changes do you make based on the results?

There is little point in conducting enterprise surveys unless the information is going to be used to make your company more effective. Without action and follow-through, there is no value. While you may be able to collect the data, how does it become useful information?

Many dedicated human resources departments simply do not have the time or skill to analyze this data nor to implement the recommendations it reveals. Drake manages the process for you. The enterprise survey solution goes beyond the needs analysis and technology to include the proven expertise of Drake’s project management experience.

The results need to be analyzed and presented in an efficient and cost effective manner. How do you keep on top of the volume of information, without letting the process weigh you down? How do you respect privacy issues? Effective evaluation of enterprise survey outcomes requires the identification of trends and patterns regarding key issues, as perceived by the workforce. Benchmarking the results from one period to the next enables both comparisons of valid data to be made and opens the opportunity to monitor progress.

The most valuable way to build support for the survey, increase participation rates in subsequent surveys, and ultimately improve employee engagement, is to take transparent and observable actions derived from the survey results. Commit to a realistic number of initiatives to focus on—ones that will have a positive impact on the business and that have full management support. Involve everyone to identify what matters at the local level. Hold action planning meetings, during which each group has the opportunity to review results, identify priorities, brainstorm solutions, and take responsibility for the follow-up process. Doing this promotes buy-in and further confirms that employee opinions have impact. Put together committees responsible for developing integrated action plans and that monitor and communicate

results. Even acting on a limited number of critical issues will have a long-term positive impact.

To ensure that your organization capitalizes on the potential rooted within the results, a third party provider is ideal. To assist with and facilitate the action planning process, or if employees are suspicious regarding motives and intent. Often, they will not be fully engaged in debrief sessions and not provide honest input unless an external advisor assists in prioritizing results based on objective, statistically reliable data. This leads to sound decisions about where your organization will get the most benefit. When employees see the changes that take place as a result of their feedback they understand the connection between that and their response, leading to an improvement in future survey scores.


:: outsourcing

“There are no problems we cannot solve together, and very few we can solve by ourselves.” —Lyndon Baines Johnson

• Who conducts employee surveys in your company today?

• How do you ensure open and honest employee feedback?

When conducting employee surveys, companies should carefully consider who will manage them. Someone must handle the details like content, design, printing and programming, data entry, report generation, and distribution. Outsourcing these details frees up the time of internal resources to focus on other important initiatives. A third party provider can oversee the design, facilitate planning, provide guidance, and also implement and coordinate the survey in a way that minimizes demands on employees and their managers.

While many small- to medium- sized companies simply don’t have the HR resources to take on the responsibility for the task, larger organizations that do have dedicated HR departments typically do not have the expertise, time or resources to do this efficiently. A knowledgeable third party can deliver results in a timely manner and identify trends in the data so that the organization is aware of potential problems as early as possible.

To ensure unbiased information, it is important to involve a





© Drake International NA volume thirteen www.drakewebinars.com




consultant in the design and assessment phases. Effectively generating and analyzing enterprise surveys entails extensive expertise. If not done properly, the results may be misleading. A consultant from Drake can conduct a full needs analysis, getting the inside track on your organization, and can improve both the integrity and quality of information gathered. Employees can respond in confidence to sensitive issues enabling the organization to identify real problems. Third party providers know about the risks associated with bias and poor response rates, and protect the reliability and validity of the data, enabling companies to act on the results with confidence.

A professional enterprise survey solution not only ensures questions will be proactively created and selected to suit concerns about your particular organization, but it can electronically warehouse your database of questions making it easy to access, customize and save your questions for future surveys. Drake’s Enterprise Survey solution makes the design and development of survey questions efficient, effective and specific for your company.


:: return on investment

• Did your last survey make a positive contribution to your organization’s bottom line?

• How does your organization measure its employee survey return on investment?

In measurable terms, return on investment is defined as reduced costs, avoided costs, and potentially increased revenues.

These key areas are used to evaluate Employee Survey ROI: 1. Reduced Turnover

2. Productivity Cost Efficiencies

Reduced Turnover

Replacing employees is costly at any time, but can be particularly expensive within the first six to twelve months of their employment considering some of the following financial implications:

† The above table highlights a range of typical costs associated with employing someone for a secretarial position worth $35 000 per annum who reports to someone earning $55 000 per annum. The figures are based on an actual case study within the insurance industry: The cost this company spends on replacing someone for this position is $13,943, in addition to the individual’s salary. Using exit interviews to learn from your past departing employees provides you with techniques to reduce your turnover with existing staff.

ROI Calculation

Productivity Cost Effeciencies

• Once a Drake Enterprise Survey is established for your company, it can be easily deployed in the following years—without incurring the initial set-up cost

• The cost to organizations of high staff turnover is based on a reduced knowledge base and low morale



The average number of employees in your company

Multiplied by the average annual employee turnover in %6

Equals the actual number of people that depart your company annually

Multiplied by the reduction % of staff turnover Enterprise Surveys can produce The number of people Enterprise Surveys can ‘save’ per year

The average cost of replacing a person Equals the savings from reduced turnover Minus cost of an annual online Enterprise Survey to company7

Equals the Return on Investment (2689%) 500 x % 20 = 100 x %10 = 10 x $ 13 943 = $ 139 430 - $ 5 000 $ 134 430 © Drake International NA volume thirteen 6 :: cost will vary depending on the customized program created for your company

7 :: results may vary within your organization

hiring activity hypothetical costs

Advertising Screening Interviewing Orientation Equipping/Administration Training

Total Cost of Recruitment

$400 $570 $990 $112 $1 300 $10 571 $13 943 †




© Drake International NA volume twelve www.drakewebinars.com



drake’s 3


party need



and analysis

drake’s recommendations for change



low morale high turnover low productivity employee “A” employee “B” employee “C” enterprise survey

the drake survey solution


:: conclusion

A well designed and implemented process will guarantee that the concerns identified by your enterprise survey are the right ones. Equipped with this crucial information, your company will be in a position to address key issues which will result in greater employee engagement.

Implement a formal audit process to monitor the effectiveness of follow-up actions and measure progress against objectives. Assess the ROI in order to identify which investments should be increased, cut back or stopped. By doing this, the connection between the survey and business results is enhanced and the message is communicated that the survey is not just a nice thing to do—it’s good for business.

By managing it properly, employing the right resources, at the right time, asking the right questions, processing and responding to the answers, and using the information to create necessary change, you can convert enterprise surveys into one of the most valuable management tools your company has. If your company does not have an enterprise survey instrument, or has one that is not delivering the results you were hoping for, you can take steps today to make this critical process successful for you. Organizations that choose to use internal resources to carry out surveys as a cost-saving measure often find it a more expensive and less successful alternative. Let Drake do the work for you. Our fully customizable Enterprise Survey solution will make your survey an effective productivity and retention strategy that will deliver the results you need.

© Drake International NA volume thirteen 8 :: “best practices for employee surveys,” gilbert, slavney and tong (78)






:: tips and checklist

Here are a few pointers to make the Enterprise Survey process run as smoothly as possible: 1. Identify issues you want to learn about and are willing to act on

2. Clear accountability and a commitment from management is essential

3. Determine the most effective design, one which covers your bases on all sides of the topics and keep it relatively short 4. Incorporate items that can be benchmarked and make questions clear and unbiased

5. Consider the delivery format from which you will get the most honest and effective answers 6. Ensure anonymity and confidentiality are preserved

7. Share results in a timely manner with everyone, and make the information easily understandable 8. Focus on a few key issues then use the information wisely to make changes to improve

9. Communicate, communicate, and communicate 10. Choose a qualified third party to manage the process

“Every time I close the door on reality, it comes in through the windows.”

—Jennifer Yane

© Drake International NA volume thirteen www.drakewebinars.com


drake international

north america


©drake international na all rights reserved. drake, its logo, and drake outperform are trademarks of drake international. vancouver•edmonton calgary•winnipeg london•hamilton oakville•mississauga toronto•belleville brockville•kingston cornwall•ottawa montréal•quebec city moncton•halifax plantation•los alamitos arcadia•irvine

contact drake for more information on how our

hr consulting services and enterprise survey


will help your organization drive

organizational productivity and profitability

call +

1 800

go drake


about drake

Members of The Drake International Group of Companies are global leaders in the field of human resources, consultative management, staffing and technology solutions. For more than 50 years, Drake International has helped North American businesses solve productivity problems and recruit the best people. We begin with a business needs analysis which pinpoints the optimal way in which we can help your organization achieve its strategic objectives and overall workforce optimization strategy.

Using a partnership approach to deliver measurable results, Drake optimizes a company’s profitability applying a blend of flexible staffing, permanent recruitment and technology solutions. Using innovative strategies, Drake reduces costs, increases revenue and customizes HR solutions including outsourcing of non-core business functions. Our unique vision plans to hire the right people for our clients the first time, thus saving them money by reducing their need for recruitment.

Drake’s operating philosophy is based on the principle that organizations and people are at the highest level of productivity when they are working with the right skills, knowledge and behaviours, using the best processes and technologies.

We aim to assist your organization in achieving heightened productivity, performance and profit standards through the effective use of people and the application of proprietary technologies to help match workforce levels to workload. Allow Drake to help you and your company Outperform.




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