7 tips for management before the next employee well-being survey

7 tips from our HR experts and organizational psychologists to improve employee well-being surveys

Employee well-being surveys measure employee well-being, but... ...


...if the survey's framework is unclear or if it is conducted without specific objectives, the results often end up being useless.
That's why we have gathered Ramboll's most experienced HR experts and organizational psychologists and asked them to provide their 7 best tips for well-being surveys that ensure better results and concrete actions to work on afterwards. 

1. Treat the well-being survey as a strategic tool—use it as one

Well-being surveys don't automatically improve well-being in the workplace or magically boost the bottom line. Without clear reporting and meaningful actions based on the insights gathered from the survey, you won't make any progress. 

"But if you clearly define the purpose of the survey from the start and use it correctly, both our own experiences and international research show a clear correlation between what you can measure in a survey and the organization's results"

Carsten Sørensen

Executive Director, Rambøll Management Consulting

2. Clarify what the well-being survey is actually measuring

Many organizations see well-being surveys as temperature checks but are unsure of what they are actually investigating. 

Because what is well-being in the workplace, really? 

If the purpose of the survey is not well thought out, and if you don't ask the right questions in the well-being survey, you won't get the right answers. 

Often, about 80% of the responses in the well-being survey are predominantly positive, and then the management thinks that there is no need to do more. But it still means that there is a need for improvement in the remaining 20%. 

In the worst case, it creates conflicts in the workplace where employees become frustrated and tired of all the surveys and questions when they don't see any changes happening in the organization. 

Therefore, it is important to ask yourselves, "what do we want to use this well-being information for, and how can we disseminate it throughout the organization?" Explains carsten sørensen. 

Remember, the well-being survey is a tool with the purpose of improving the status quo. 


3. Put the well-being survey in a relevant context

A lot is lost if surveys are not put into context. Initially, it's less about what you ask and more about why you ask. 

That's why it's important to involve top management—they are the ones who need to use the results and are familiar with the organizational challenges the organization is currently facing. 

Carsten sørensen adds, "previously, employee retention and motivation were the focus, and that's why well-being and job satisfaction were the most important. That isn’t necessarily the case today." 

4. Focus on uniqueness rather than averages

It's ingrained in us as human beings to look for mistakes and then try to fix them. 

"But if an organization only uses a survey to address poor well-being in the workplace, it creates," says flemming lorenz, business manager at ramboll and a leading expert in employee well-being surveys, "just an average organization." 

If the goal is to motivate employees and promote job satisfaction, simply fixing mistakes will only get you so far. 

"Creating better well-being in the workplace should not only be about how to eliminate a low score, but rather how to leverage the strengths indicated by a high score," advises flemming lorenz. 

He follows it up with another piece of advice. 

"It's not about forcing positivity, where we can't talk about problems and have to call them 'organizational challenges.' But we strongly recommend striking a balance so that there is also focus on areas in the organization where there is already a good psychological work environment." 


5. Move away from a unilateral focus on external benchmarks and prioritize internal communication and growth in the organization

Financial metrics are easy to compare across organizations. But employees and managers are not absolute. 

Responses in well-being surveys reflect the reality in which they are given and cannot always be compared with the reality of a competing organization. 

External benchmarks certainly have their place and can lead to useful reflection and self-examination. However, they should not be prioritized at lower organizational levels. 

"It is much more interesting to see who is performing well within the organization and learn from that," says Flemming Lorenz. 


6. Satisfied Employees are the "Problem"

Typically, less than 10% of employees are categorized as "dissatisfied" in a survey, and organizations often spend too much energy on them. 

A good manager creates happy employees, but it's impossible to make every single one fall into the category of "satisfied employees." 

In these cases, it is often more useful to focus on moving the 50-60% of employees who think, "This workplace is actually quite okay." 

"The valuable change for the organization and personal effectiveness among employees often happens by turning satisfied employees into highly satisfied employees," says Carsten Sørensen. "That's where the organization will truly experience a behavioral impact among employees." 

7. The well-being survey is wasted without good, action-oriented follow-up

It requires resources and willingness to carry out effective follow-up on a well-being survey, and management needs to be committed to it. 

The organization needs to know how it will use the results—whether it's to avoid stress in the workplace, address bullying, or improve communication within and across departments. 

Often, the attitude is that there is no need to do anything about the good results and that nothing can be done about the bad ones. 

"But the good results can be used for learning throughout the organization, and the bad ones can be an opportunity to change ineffective habits," says flemming lorenz. "This requires a commitment from everyone in the organization to an action plan here and now. Each employee needs to know and keep in mind what their role is in the process of change." 


Søren Wæhrens

Produktchef, PeopleXact

Xact By Rambøll

M: +45 51 61 14 30