Many of us at some time or another have come across a survey questionnaire, whether it be for market research purposes, but more likely at work; as employee surveys are becoming more popular.
Apart from the use of closed questions, those that limit the responses given but allow for certain types of quantitative scrutiny, there are often open-ended questions included in the survey.
So, why use open-ended questions?
For a start, the words and phrases people use tell you a great deal about how they think and feel. The feedback provided gives a diverse and textured response and often provides an insight into working life and ideas about resolving issues. A fortunate opportunity not necessarily anticipated.
Open-ended questions not only give an understanding of people’s opinions, but they also give the respondent a free hand to express in more detail their passions and concerns. The advantage of grouping and categorising these free text answers is that you will find that a line of thinking or opinion is not always confined to just one person. Reports can be produced to show certain ‘themes’ in the comments made which a company can use to assist them devise action plans to take charge of areas needing attention, but can also show them areas where they are performing well or improving.
We have collated information from a wide range of clients over the past 12 months who have made use of these ‘themed’ comments reports and we’d like to share with you our top five themes.
1. Teamwork, colleagues and support
In the majority of surveys we have carried out, employees often rate working with their colleagues as the best thing about where they work – “Everybody being so enthusiastic and passionate. It really feels like every coworker wants to be here and is proud of his or her job.”
2. Pay, benefits and rewards
In this current financial climate, this particular theme is of no surprise. Many staff feel this is an area in need of reviewing – “i would like to see a pay increase as we have not had our annual increase over the last 2 years now”
3. Career development and training opportunities
This theme can produce both negative and positive responses.
Employers needing to cut back, often have to limit the training on offer and prospects for progression – “There are currently no development opportunities within the team and resource is limited which makes taking on work outside of the normal day job very difficult to do”
However, there are employers who continue to value the expertise of their staff and offer ongoing training and opportunities to move within the organisation – “Staff are given the opportunities to do some courses thereby acquiring knowledge”
4. Better communication and inter-departmental cohesion
There’s nothing worse than not knowing what is going on in the company you work for, the team you work with and not understanding the relevance of your own role or that of other colleagues within the organisation – “Better communication at every level, site, and group. Better knowledge of group objectives. Better knowledge of the other structures of the group, more clarity and simplification of procedures.”
5. Value and recognise your staff better
We all like to be appreciated for the work we do and need to know we are valued and contributing to the overall success of the people we work for, sadly, many employers do little to recognise their staff – “Greater rewards and recognition for staff’s hard work and loyalty. There is very little incentive for people to achieve highly because it often goes unnoticed and unrewarded particularly by staff at the very top level”
So, it’s clear how having open-ended questions included in a survey questionnaire, and a follow-up ‘themed’ comments report, can help organisations ‘hone-in’ on what their employees really think!
If you would like to know more how such a report can benefit your business, then go ahead and contact us on +44 (0) 1255 850051.