“How often should you run employee surveys?” is a question we hear often. It’s a smart question, and the answer depends on several factors, including the objective of the survey, and the organisation’s plans for following up.

Determining the objective of the employee survey

Starting with a clear objective in mind will help you determine the frequency with which you should survey your people.

  • Assessing employee engagement: Employee engagement surveys assess your workforce across multiple dimensions and indicate the degree to which their work conditions enable them to feel present, focused, and energised about their work. A well-structured survey will enable leadership to understand engagement across departments, locations, and teams, helping leadership see where people are thriving, and spot areas that need their focused attention. Because engagement is fluid and can be affected by factors ranging from a change in manager to a new project or workplace technology, we recommend measuring employee engagement throughout the year.
  • Building trust and transparency: If the objective is building trust and transparency within the organisation, following up on the survey is absolutely essential. When considering the timing of surveys with this objective in mind, leaders need to ensure they have built-in time for both analysis and timely response to employees. Interest in the survey results will naturally be high after it’s fielded. However, that interest can quickly turn to skepticism (and even cynicism) if too much time passes before leaders respond. In the event extensive analysis is required, we recommend a series of interim communications, such as:
    • An immediate thank you message that shares the participation rate, and if appropriate, celebrates teams that achieved 100% participation.
    • A timeline of next steps, indicating how long analysis will take, and when findings will be shared.
    • An update with abbreviated or “headline” findings or noteworthy feedback

Interim communications should always be followed by the final analysis or report, and importantly, any actions the organisation is taking as a result of the survey.

  • Creating “voice of the employee” feedback loop: Establishing a trusted feedback loop with employees is top of mind for many organisations. When thinking about how often to invite employees to share feedback and ideas, it’s useful to first consider the potential volume of feedback, and how leaders will use and respond to that input. The Engagement Multiplier platform’s Secure Follow Up feature allows leaders to respond anonymously to employee feedback, whether they’re asking for additional detail or simply saying “thanks.” Building response time and channels into the plan is important, otherwise, the feedback will dry up if employees conclude that no one is listening.

What’s the best employee survey frequency? 

Often, how often you decide to run a survey is dictated by the objectives and how the information gathered will be used. Surveys designed to gather specific information in advance of a management decision, such as gathering feedback about employee benefits, only need to be done once a year or on an as-needed basis. Our On-Demand Surveys offer a number of ready-made options.

However, if the goal is to work toward an objective or make measurable improvements, such as building transparency or improving employee engagement, we recommend a survey cadence of 90 days. In our experience, the 90-day interval has proven ideal for these reasons:

  • 90 days is a useful window for gathering feedback, as people more easily and accurately recall their experiences.
  • It’s enough time for leadership to take action on a specific issue and share an update or results.
  • Gathering data and feedback quarterly allows leadership to spot trends and issues as they arise, enabling them to be more agile and responsive.

As the organisation builds trust and engagement, consider changing the survey mix, rather than the cadence. If your organisation has reached engaged status and maintained it consistently for a year, consider replacing two of the engagement assessments with topical surveys, such as the Innovation survey, or evaluating the remote employee experience. The fresh perspective you’ll receive will enable leadership to demonstrate the value of employee feedback, and make further adjustments employees will appreciate.