Sample Intranet Survey for Employees Including Guidance, Tips, Links, and Explanations

Sample Online Survey Answer Scale

Sample Online Survey Answer Scale

A growing number of big corporations is using Linchpin as their intranet technology. There are some, that simply want a fast and reliable result. But others really put a focus on preparation, concepts and a thorough strategy for the intranet rollout.

It is part of our guaranteed fixed price package not only to throw some intranet software technology over a fence: We want to help build a solution that actually works in every single company. We take our responsibility seriously both on the organizational and cultural change side, that inevitably are part of a social intranet project.

Right now we are in the middle of preparing an employee survey for a new intranet project and this is my effort to contribute to the conception phase and also help you plan your intranet better.

Challenges

Let’s start with the bothersome stuff:

  • Employees feel bothered by surveys
    Yes, there will be some eager to answer our intranet questions, but the majority of people have not asked to be asked. They will feel an obligation to contribute and we’ll effectively take time from them for filling out the survey. So being and communicating in a humble and respectful way is mandatory. I have heard of intranet surveys that came with an official order for everybody to fill it out. Not a good idea.
  • Involve workers union
    In Germany, we constantly have to involve workers unions when we plan a survey. It’s part of their constitutional rights to check and approve surveys that go to all employees. You may want to check if you company has any similar regulations.
  • Cloud issues
    It is easy and fast to create a survey with an online platform. It’s handy that employees can even answer it from home and on the phone. But you’re storing company data and maybe even secure stuff on remote servers in the cloud. Not allowed for the big corps in a lot of cases. Yes, people, the cloud did not hit all and especially not all of the big companies yet. LimeSurvey is a free, quick, reliable and open-source on-premise alternative. Most companies have an ‘okay solution’ available.
  • Designing a good survey is tricky and complex.
    Back in university we spent weeks learning and discussing how to create and design the questions of a survey correctly. We analyzed a plethora of pitfalls, that sometimes lead to funny and severe biases in results. You better respect the complexity of crafting a survey and involve someone who’s experienced. Especially if you’re designing a survey for a massive company, you can almost guarantee that you’ll hit someone with good skills in analyzing surveys. You do not want to risk the intranet team being exposed to criticism about lack of professional work.

Chances

I would not be writing this article if I wasn’t convinced, that intranet surveys are worthwhile. Here are my main thoughts on chances:

  • Focus on customers
    Listening to customers and users is the main priority of modern product development. This is common sense. And your customers for an intranet are your employees. Yes, there are freelancers, part-timers, remote people and all sorts of exceptions. But the vast majority are plain full-time employees and they all are your customer base. Hearing their voice early is very powerful and valuable. Surveys are not the only way. But they scale awesomely.
  • Fast deployment
    It is relatively fast to design and deliver a survey. And results get in automatically. And when you have put enough efforts in your survey concept, interpreting the results isn’t too tricky either.
  • Strong guidance for your intranet plans
    A survey helps you find out what is really important in your company. And if you reach a lot of employees and collect a good or even representative amount of answers you can both rely on the results and work with them to argue for certain directions in the project.
  • Political tool
    It can be a little evil. But a lot of teams use the results of surveys as a powerful tool to pave their ways and get decisions. A lot of people can be easily impressed with “the majority of our employees want that. It’s been a clear result of our survey with all of them.” What does the CEO’s opinion count against that. You’ll be surprised, how few people argue against survey results. So again: Better be sure you have the survey design correct.

Which questions to put in a good intranet survey

Hey! Did you jump directly to this section? It’s a trap. A big part of this is about respect for complexity of surveys and their design. If you now simply copy the following questions, you may get a good Linchpin survey. But it’s likely that you miss stuff, that is crucial for your specific company and the needs of your project. I would even guess, that creating all questions on your own and validating them with the team afterwards, will get you further and to a much better level of quality. This list is a good tool to check, whether you have missed certain elements, or if there are things, that you may want to add. But please keep in mind, that surveys need to be short. The fewer questions, the more answers you get. And you want a lot of answers.

Question categories and sample questions

The following categories can help you get a complete picture of possible questions you may want to pose in an intranet survey. It is by no means a complete or qualified template to take over. But you’ll hopefully get some ideas.

I assume, that questions followed by a question mark (?) are open questions in the survey. The have a field that allows free input of text. Then there are sentences that end with a period (.). Those will be followed by a likert scale (e. g. “strongly agree”, “agree”, “neutral”, “disagree” “strongly disagree”).

  • Category: Collaboration in my company
    • Topic: Usage of emails
      • I am spending more than an hour per day on my emails.
      • Reducing the load of email communication would help me a lot.
      • Email is overused in our company.
    • Usage of meetings
      • I spend more than an hour per day in meetings.
      • Reducing the load of meetings would help me a lot.
      • Meetings are overused in our company.
  • Category: Transparency in my company
    • Topic: Between “Need to know” and “everything available”
      • I have always access to all information that is relevant to my daily work.
      • There is information that I could benefit from, but that I do not have.
      • It would be very beneficial if more information would be available for me.
      • As a company we should try to make as much knowledge available to all employees as we possibly can.
  • Category: Your current intranet and room for improvements
    • Topic: Intensity of current usage? Potential of future usage? How important is a new intranet for you?
      • Choice: I am using our intranet more than: once a quarter / once a month / once a week / once a day / once an hour
      • A new and better intranet could help me in my daily work dramatically.
    • Category: Usability of software
      • I would want to use a useful intranet with my smartphone.
      • I would want to use a useful intranet from home.
      • The design of our current intranet is nice.
      • Our intranet loads fast when I use it.
    • Quality of search results
      • If I search something on the current intranet I usually find it very quickly and without hassle.
    • Structure and overview
      • The content on our intranet is relevant for my work.
      • If the intranet was personalized to my profile (e.g. location, language, department and/or role) I assume, that I would find more relevant content.
      • Ordering items: The best way to personalize the intranet for me is: location, language, department, role, topics of interest, responsibilities in company, …
      • The intranet navigation is helpful for me.
      • Open question: Highlights: What should be part of prominent teaser boxes? What needs more attention in the intranet?
    • Options to interact and contribute
      • I would like to have a quick way to share updates about projects or my work (Something like Twitter or Facebook for you and your co-workers).
      • I would like to comment on content in your intranet (easier).
      • I would like to give a quick feedback to show, that some content was useful for me (e.g. ‘like’ as in Facebook) (easier).
      • Open question: Which processes in the current intranet do you regularly use? What is your satisfaction with this process?
      • I can envision myself to create and post videos to the intranet in the future.
    • Editorial process
      • Open question: Which information do you rely on during your working day? Where do you find this information?
      • Our intranet has interesting news.
      • I would prefer to create new websites (e.g. directly displayed pages) rather than uploading new documents (PDF, Word, PowerPoint, Excel) in the intranet.
      • I would prefer to consume websites (e.g. directly displayed pages) rather than documents (PDF, Word, PowerPoint, Excel) in the intranet.
      • Open question: Which events should be in the intranet? Name the last three you can think of, that should be announced there. (Please also name very small team events and recurring events. We can personalize to your team.)
      • Open question: Which content would be helpful but should be restricted to certain groups of people in the intranet? (We want to find out, what content categories need rights management and security protection.)
  • Validation of your project goals
    • Open question: Which current software do you often use and want it somehow to be connected to or at least linked from the intranet? (You could come up with a list and make the intensity of usage a likert scale.)
    • Open question: Which processes are done with paper or emails today and should really be part of a professional digital process in the intranet?
    • It is very important that we integrate employees that have no own desktop computer into our new intranet.
  • Collecting ideas, thoughts, fears and objections to incorporate in future concepts
    • Open question: Which software is competing with our intranet today?
  • Information about me (participant)
    • Open question: What is your email address? (fully optional)
  • General ideas
    • Open question: Do you have ideas about this survey?
    • Open question: Do you have ideas for the intranet project at large?

Tips for your intranet survey

  • Create your own questions from scratch
    Don’t just copy from the questions above. Those questions are close to our Linchpin intranet solution. You may be in a different situation.
  • Keep it short and simple.
    Only ask what really changes your project’s direction. Use plain and easy language. Or to cite Jakob Nielsen and his analysis from 2004: “To ensure high response rates and avoid misleading survey results, keep your surveys short and ensure that your questions are well written and easy to answer.”
  • Never ask two things at a time.
    This is also called the double barreled question. If you ask two questions your answer will convert into garbage as you cannot say what part of the question your participants wanted to answer on.
  • Likert scales are your friend. Use them.
    Closed questions with a yes / no answer are weak on prediction and leave little room for multivariate analysis later. Instead of asking “Do you like the current intranet?” with a “Yes” or “No” answer, you should rather go for “I like the current intranet.” and the answers “fully agree”, “agree”, “do not agree” and “fully disagree”. There is an intense scientific debate on whether the answering scale should be even or uneven. Uneven scales have a “middle”. Also the amount is discussed. Something between 4 and 7 is common. And you should have a “do not know” (no answer) category.
  • Use only (very few) open questions
    Open questions are extremely powerful but a heavy load for your participants. Only use them where you expect very good and valuable output. The less open questions, the faster and easier the survey, and the more complete results pour in.
  • Some words on anonymity of surveys
    Forced anonymity is an insult to your participants. You do not let them stand for what they say. It is already impolite, that you force exactly this questionnaire on them. But if you ask for peoples names or even use the software to automatically recognize them, your response rate may also go down. The recommendation that we have and mostly use is to leave the survey anonymous and offer an email address in a fully optional field at the end. This way the participants can step out of anonymity and put a name tag on their answers and you also have the opportunity to reach out to them for further questions.
  • Dynamic paths for a quick finish
    If you offer a short and a longer survey version and let people choose, which one they want, you’ll prove to be a good citizen and be respectful of people’s time. I admit that it is more complex to get this dynamic survey design, but especially with managers being very busy, you may get some extra answers from very high level participants.
  • How long will this take?
    You should test your survey with some colleagues and stop the time it takes them to complete the survey. Make the time investment a prominent part of your messaging, when you ask people to fill it out.

Please use the links below to find more detailed lists of tips and don’ts for your questionnaire design. If you estimate how much time you will suck out of you co-workers working time with this survey, you may find, that going the extra mile to really make your survey rock is worth while. 😀

Research about surveys and other sources

I am definitely not the first to think about intranet surveys. That’s why I want to offer a list of sources, that may help you, when you want to go deeper and find out more:

What do you think of intranet surveys? What is your experience? Do you have a source that may be helpful and add to the things above? Please comment below.

Update: I have been notified by a co-worker, that there is a scientifically researched template for an intranet satisfaction survey, that may be of help here.

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