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How to set up an employee satisfaction survey

Updated at: 26 February 2021
How to set up an employee satisfaction survey

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In a recent blog, we addressed the importance of gaining insight into the satisfaction and involvement of employees. But what’s the best way to construct and execute satisfaction surveys that help to achieve organizational objectives and retain valuable employees? We’ll walk you through the details and options available.

Design and data collection are now digital

The days of HR professionals dreading the construction and implementation of an employee satisfaction survey are long past. Gone, too, is the notion that the right frequency for surveying staff is about once every two years, whereby employees fill out long questionnaires, which the HR department then processes. It’s no wonder managers didn’t always look forward to the results of the survey or even use the data in a meanful way. Successful employee satisfaction and retention requires regular, targeted surveys that produce valuable results.

Today’s survey software is modern, simple, and easy to use. Employee satisfaction can be measured online, quickly, at the optimal time, and with just a few targeted questions. It’s also possible to tailor each questionnaire by employee role in the care process, or even based on an individual’s contact with a specific patient population (e.g., COVID-19 patients).

Research shows that employees are happy to give their opinions, but on the conditions that the process is done quickly and purposefully. They want to know that something will be done with the information they provide, and that the survey process isn’t just a symbolic exercise.

Choose the right option to match your intent

Depending on the organizational or departmental goals for gathering information, there are various options to explore: broad, short, or in-depth/thematic questionnaires.

Broad questionnaire
With a broad satisfaction survey, all themes that influence the satisfaction, involvement, motivation, and enthusiasm of your employees can be included. This type is often used as culture survey due to the breadth of information it nets. By asking broad questions in the survey, employers can stimulate individuals to take responsibility, for example, for ideas on how they can contribute to the success of the organization. Themes can range from personal development, and internal communication, to collaboration, work pressure/stress, and working conditions.

Short questionnaire
When an organization wants to get a high-level, but not overly detailed view of what’s going well and what areas require improvement, a short questionnaire can provide sufficient insight. A short questionnaire may consist of only one question that “takes the temperature” of staff on an issue. Then, for example, a pictoral thermometer might be displayed in the organization or on an Intranet to show employees the current status. Brief multiple-question surveys can include questions that determine the satisfaction, involvement, and enthusiasm of employees to gather the desired information.

Short questionnaires are beneficial for:

  1. Saving time (and thus costs) for employee respondents and for HR staff who must create, deploy, collect, and summarize/analyze the information.
  2. Achieving higher response rates, because employees are more likely to cooperate when fewer questions are presented.
  3. Efforts to regularly measure employees’ job satisfaction.
  4. Gathering timely and up-to-date feedback, because employees can relay information “in the moment” regarding their priorities and preferences.
  5. Allowing confidentiality or anonymity.
  6. Asking follow-up questions following a broad or in-depth questionnaire.

In-depth questionnaire with a theme
An in-depth survey can be used when information is related to one theme. Work pressure, internal communication, personal development, or the sustainment of employees are, for example, themes that require questions that build throughout a satisfaction survey. In-depth questionnaires can target employee phases (e.g.,recruitment, onboarding, or exit interview)—or be used as the jumping off point for a group discussion with employees.

Meeting an urgent need for a survey due to COVID-19

The impact of COVID-19 has been significant for many healthcare professionals across a great many areas, including:

  • New visitor/vendor access criteria
  • Lack of personal protective equipment
  • Disrupted communication protocols related to working from home.

Work stressors combine with the challenges employees face in their private lives to create long-term impacts that are not yet known. As a result, organizations seek feedback from employees on how to support them, keep them engaged in their work, and ensure they felt heard and seen by management regarding the issues they face day-to-day.

For frontline employees who come into contact with patients, their families, or other customers, COVID-19-related surveys can produce valuable knowledge to prepare for future crises. For example, how well did patients and visitors cooperate in the context of hygiene rules and visiting arrangements? Any pandemic-related topic, when surveyed, can influence the satisfaction, involvement, and enthusiasm of your employees and lead to impactful chnage regarding internal communication protocols, collaboration with management, the alleviation of work pressure, and improved working conditions.

The relationship between the satisfaction survey for employees, patients and clients

The influence of engaged employees has a great influence on patient or client satisfaction. Committed employees ensure good experiences for patients and clients. But the other way around is also true. If the experiences of patients and clients are less, this increases the workload among the staff. That is why it is valuable to also measure patient satisfaction, in order to gain insight into the relationship between them.

Easily create, send, and analyze surveys with symplr Patient Safety

The symplr cloud platform makes it simple to set up your own employee satisfaction surveys. Access standard survey templates in the application—or customize your own questionnaires to conduct research and begin engaging your employees.

The flexibility of our survey software accommodates any level user, with no programming knowledge required to compile questions, build reports, or create a dashboard to display results in aggregate. Create as many surveys as needed, including the types addressed in this blog.

symplr’s survey solution displays all measurement results continuously and in real-time on your online dashboard, giving management a big-picture view. Use insights and analytics to take immediate action, if needed, or collect data long-term to implement goal-oriented employee satisfaction initiatives. symplr helps you measure employee satisfaction data that does more than just meet the mandatory measurements for quality. It helps you build and sustain a better workforce.

Additional resources on employee satisfaction in healthcare


  1. Five benefits of deploying employee satisfaction surveys
  2. 6 tips for motivating employees to help improve the quality of care


Learn more about our satisfaction survey application.

Do you want to know more about creating motivation and engagement among healthcare employees? Download our eBook about staff commitment today.

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