TSI Blog

We’ve Been Awarded The Crystal Mark

March 3rd, 2016 by Alison McKinney

Crystal Mark 21925Oh yeah! In fact “At base level, this just comes down to de-constructed strategic matrix approaches.”, and don’t you know it!

Well, chances are, you haven’t a clue what that means, and whether at all it has any relevance to you.

OK, I had a bit of fun on the Plain English website ‘Gobbledygook generator’ – I typed in “Today, I’m writing a blog about plain English” – check it out.

So, we are delighted to have been awarded the Crystal Mark for Plain English on our sample core question based employee survey questionnaire. A document that will go out to all our potential clients on request, to give them an idea and feel for what their employee survey may look like.

This simply came about as a result of something my colleagues and I had been having the odd chat about recently. The English language. The way things are spelt, grammar, interpretation and general simplistic understanding of what’s being said or asked.

This is very important to us at The Survey Initiative. We take a great deal of pride in our work in partnership with clients to come up with an employee survey questionnaire that not only strives to retrieve what the organisation wants to find out about their people and working practices, but a survey questionnaire that all of its participants can clearly read, understand and ultimately, confidently take part and be involved in. It goes a long way to the all-important response rate take up of the survey. If people struggle to understand what’s being asked, because they don’t understand or interpret the question correctly, they are more than likely to not participate, or results are going to be skewed.

There is a fee to apply to the Plain English Campaign to have your document clarity approved, allowing you to affix the Crystal Mark on approved documents. Whilst not all organisations can afford their seal of approval, there are lots of common sense approaches which include:

  • the use of ‘everyday’ English;
  • consistent and correct use of punctuation, grammar, spelling (I See Roofs Of Green – roofs vs rooves);
  • avoid ambiguity questions (Do You Read Books On Trains? – says it all);
  • not too lengthy sentences;
  • plenty of ‘active’ rather than ‘passive’ verbs;
  • explanations of technical terms;
  • good use of lists;
  • words like ‘we’ and ‘you’ instead of ‘the Company’ or ‘the employee’;
  • clear, helpful headings, which stand out from the text; (not in capital text) and
  • a good type size and a clear typeface.

Whether you are developing your employee survey questionnaire, or even putting out an organisational communication piece, then you really need to make life easier for your reader. If you want to achieve your goal, getting a message out there and across in the manner you mean, and getting the response you are looking for, then keep things as short as possible, avoid unnecessary technical language and use clear, simple words.  It will ultimately increase your chances of being read, understood and getting your people to communicate back to you.

We are an experienced employee research company that work hard in partnership with our clients to get the absolute best from their employee research projects. If you’d like to talk to us about how we can help and advise you and your organisation to get the best out of your main asset – your people, call us on +44 (0)1255 850051, or give us your details via our website.

Written by Alison McKinney
Alison McKinney is the Project and Quality Assurance Manager at The Survey Initiative, a dedicated employee research organisation devoted to helping its clients gain insight and understanding into what drives employee engagement in their business. Alison has extensive experience in project management and quality assurance and has recently worked on projects for clients as diverse as: WSP Middle East. Natural History Museum, Peverel, Marine Stewardship Council, Accor UK &Ireland and Thompsons Solicitors. Visit http://www.surveyinitiative.co.uk for more information.

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