Human Resources Survey Results
Intention to accurately complete employee survey, by methodology

Items of some controversy and concern to HR managers and business owners who want to survey their employees are:

  • Will employees participate in the survey in large numbers?
  • Will employees be honest in their responses?

These certainly are important issues. The lion's share of employers do not attempt to find out "who said what" in an employee survey. Indeed, we've never worked with a client who has attempted to do this, and we won't divulge this information to a client, even if they want it. Nevertheless, we know there are employees who are paranoid that the underlying purpose of an employee survey is to pinpoint the responses of each individual.

We wanted to get a sense of how pervasive this attitude was, and whether it differed by methodology. We asked people in two separate polls what their reaction would be if they were asked to participate in an employee satisfaction survey. The answer categories provided were:

  • Would complete the questionnaire, being completely honest in all answers,
  • Would complete the questionnaire, but would not be completely honest in all answers,
  • Would not participate.

We asked the question two different ways, as follows:

  • If your employer sent you an employee satisfaction questionnaire and asked that it be returned to a department within the organization, which of the following best describes the approach you would take? (Poll ended June 5, 2000 - 353 respondents.)
  • If your employer asked you to participate in an online employee satisfaction survey hosted by an outside research company, which of the following best describes the approach you would take? (Poll ended July 3, 2000 - 447 respondents.)

Here are the results.

What does this mean? First of all, bear in mind that these were online surveys, so the respondents are more prone to using the Internet that the general populace. But among this group, we can draw the following conclusions:

  • Most people would respond honestly, regardless of methodology,
  • More people would respond honestly to an online employee satisfaction survey hosted by an outside research organization, than to an internally distributed and collected paper employee satisfaction survey.

This news should provide some comfort to firms considering moving to an online means of measuring employee satisfaction, particularly those with Web-enabled and Web-literate employee populations. It also should cause some concern among those who conduct their employee satisfaction surveys internally.