Are you Communicating Effectively to Employees?

How do you know if your employees are reading the email or newsletter you spent so much time working on? Unless you measure effectiveness, you won’t know for sure. The best way to do so? An employee communication survey, which helps you gain insights into employee experiences and preferences. Make sure your next survey is the best it can be by following these three steps.

You’ve just put the finishing touches on the latest issue of your e-newsletter. It’s got a ton of meaty stories, eye-catching graphics and snappy headlines. You hit the send button and hope that your employees are going to read every line.

But How do you Know?
Unless you measure internal communication effectiveness, you can’t be sure. By conducting a simple employee communication survey, you’ll learn how employees experience channels and gain insights into what to do differently.

Here’s the Challenge: Too often, good surveys go bad because communicators quickly jump to drafting questions.

So make sure your next employee communication survey is the best it can be by following these three steps:

Step 1: Start with a Clear Focus
The first step in the process should be to make a checklist before you begin developing survey questions. This will help you design a focused survey that encourages participation and collects useful data.

  • Set objectives. Clear objectives will help you design a better, more succinct survey.
  • Determine your target audience: Census (survey all employees) or sample (survey a statistically valid portion of the population)?
  • Decide on Key Logistics:
    - Survey window. How long the survey will run? Target at least eight to 10 days.
    - Length. Is this a two-minute survey or are you expecting a bigger commitment of eight minutes?
    - Languages.
    - Versions. If your company has multiple business units or functions, will you field a common survey or customize by business unit/function?
    - Distribution. How will you invite employees to participate?
    - Tool(s). If you’re using a web-based tool such as SurveyMonkey, how will those without web access participate?
  • Determine question categories. For example, satisfaction with tools and vehicles used in employee communication, knowledge of key topics, behaviors, change communication, leader/manager communication, function (HR, IT) communication
  • Identify demographic questions. Target two or three; focus on demographics you use. For example, if you never send communication based on tenure, don’t include it as a demographic question.
  • Determine review and testing processes.
  • Set a target date to report results to key stakeholders.

Step 2: Write Fewer, Better Questions
Now it’s time to write survey questions, which require focus and careful editing. You want the right number of questions that will engage participants and yield useful data. Here are some quick tips to help you make every question count:

  • Go back to internal communication objectives. Focus on data that will help you deliver against those objectives or demonstrate your progress.
  • Prioritize questions that will help you make changes. If you think a question would be “nice to know,” it’s a good clue to delete it. Also delete questions that sound repetitive.
  • Eliminate questions when you already know the answer. For example, analyze web metrics rather than asking employees which posts on the intranet interest them most.
  • Limit open-ended questions. Open-ended questions are tempting since they help us understand why. But their effectiveness deteriorates as more are added: employees often repeat their responses — even if the questions are different. The urge to include more than two open-ended questions is a signal that it’s time to run a focus group.

Step 3: Harness the Power of your Results
Finally, the employee communication survey is done and you’re staring at the data you’ve collected. Lots of data.

Taking action after fielding a survey can be a challenge, so don’t get stuck at this point. Here’s a simple strategy to ensure the results don’t languish:
• Consider what you want to achieve/change.
• Identify the stakeholders you need to get there.
• Pull all the data into a report.
• Share the insights you gathered.

There’s no doubt that analyzing survey data is tough and takes time. But sharing the knowledge you gain is a very powerful way to garner support for your internal communication programs and to position yourself as an expert.

Alison Davis is founder and CEO of Davis and Company, the award-winning employee communication firm. Visit to know more.

Alison Davis is founder and CEO of Davis and Company, the award-winning employee communication firm. Visit to know more.