Employee Surveys: The 3 Most Important Factors Beforehand

Research shows that 90% of companies in Germany use employee surveys to gain deeper insights into the well-being and attitudes of their workforce (Frieg & Hossiep, 2018).

Employee surveys have become an established tool for many companies to promote employee satisfaction and retention while also improving the organizational climate.


Comprehensive employee surveys should generally take place at most three times a year; they are the foundation for developing a sustainable working environment.

Additional, shorter surveys, also known as pulse surveys, can be conducted more frequently to provide a continuous insight.

This article highlights three central aspects you need to consider before each employee survey. It discusses what content the questions should cover, which criteria should be applied when selecting a suitable (software) solution, and how to effectively communicate about your employee survey. 

Successful Employee Surveys Drive Sustainable Growth

For HR managers who have created the conditions for employee surveys to be recognized within the organization as an important tool for sustainable corporate development, much work has already been done. 

The management level is aware that well-executed employee surveys, accompanied by adequate follow-up processes, not only increase engagement but also bring economic advantages:

  • Reduction of absence and sick days 
  • Increase in productivity 
  • Increase in customer satisfaction
  • Reduction of turnover rates
  • Consolidation of corporate culture
  • Strengthening of employer branding
  • Improved competitiveness
  • Promotion of innovation
  • Increase in organizational efficiency

Even minor improvements in productivity or the retention of individual employees, as well as progress in customer satisfaction, more than offset the costs of an employee survey. 

Once the foundations for employee surveys have been established, there is nothing standing in the way of their implementation. 

There are in particular  three important considerations before conducting an employee survey, but let’s first talk about the costs.


How Much Does an Employee Survey Cost?

The costs of an employee survey consist of: 

  • internal costs for the personnel tied up in conducting the employee survey, 
  • possible external consulting costs, and 
  • license or development costs for the employee survey solution

A rule of thumb is that a higher investment in one of these cost items should always lead to a reduction in the other two cost points.  


Internal personnel costs 

You train your internal HR-department to improve the creation and evaluation of employee surveys. Your trained employees are now able to conduct the surveys independently, which reduces consulting costs because external consulting services are not necessary.  

External consulting costs 

You decide to hire an external consulting firm to carry out the employee survey. The consulting firm brings expertise and proven processes to the table, which reduces the time required for your own HR-department. 

Investment in employee survey solution 

You purchase a license for a survey solution that simplifies the execution of surveys through automations and user-friendliness. 

The automations minimize the personnel's time commitment since the software manages many aspects of the survey itself and reduces the need for external consulting, as the software already incorporates many best practices and benchmark data, which reduces the need for external expertise. 

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We have expertise in conducting authentic employee surveys that can deliver real insights and sustainable change in your organization. Contact us for a non-binding consultation on how we can work together to strengthen your employer attractiveness from the inside we look forward to hearing from you. 

1. Choosing the Best Questions

Before making a final decision on specific questions, it is important to keep the survey's purpose in mind. 

Based on over twenty years of experience with employee surveys in Scandinavia and Germany, Ramboll has identified two key drivers that are measured across various questions and play a key role in the development of a sustainable work environment:  

  • Engagement: Is the targeted investment of employees' energy in the company's goals. This reflects identification with the organization's values and the active pursuit of the company's success 
  • Implementation: Here it is assessed how engagement translates into concrete results — that is, the conversion of engagement into measurable results
Engagement and Implementation can be measured and influenced through a variety of relevant topics. 

These include, for example: 

  • the topic of development, i.e., opportunities for employees to effectively bring in their competencies and take advantage of opportunities for personal and professional growth

  • supportive leadership, i.e., the degree of feedback and responsiveness of leaders to the work performance and employee-led innovative

Overall, it is important to formulate scientifically supported questions that enable sustainable organizational development. These should be continuously collected to allow comparability over time and with other companies. 

2. Choosing the Best Survey Solution

After defining the relevant questions to include in the employee survey, choosing a suitable survey solution is the next crucial step. 

The following aspects are essential:
  • The solution must meet the requirements of GDPR and ensure the anonymity of respondents and the security of the collected data 
  • The software must be able to represent hierarchies to evaluate results based on departments and teams 
  • The solution must provide insights into the return rate while ensuring the anonymity of participants in the survey and analysis phases 
  • The solution must allow for multilingualism to adapt the survey to the linguistic needs of the workforce and thus increase understanding of the questions 
  • The solution must have a user-friendly interface to simplify the creation, execution, and evaluation of the survey 
  • The solution should enable automated reporting and provide relevant reflection and recommendations for action to make the follow-up process of the survey sustainable

If you consider the composition of the costs of an employee survey, investing in a good survey solution pays off and lowers personnel and consulting costs.  

An effective survey solution provides the right balance between standardization and flexibility, and, for example, already contains scientifically-based questions while also allowing room for your own questions. 

Moreover, it's also important that the solution is developed and maintained by experts and that the providers offer thorough onboarding as well as excellent support. 

3. Communicating the Employee Survey Effectively

A successful employee survey requires effective communication. 

Imagine, you have created the general prerequisites for successful employee surveys and found a survey solution but have not communicated it sufficiently. The consequence is a poor survey response rate. 

To improve participation rate for meaningful results and the acceptance of the survey, an early and transparent announcement is essential. 

Your communication should include the following content: 
  • The survey's goal: Explain its purpose, which topics are covered, and how the results will be used 
  • The mode of execution: Describe the survey format, duration, and participation options
  • Anonymity: Highlight how the anonymity of participants is ensured, who has access to the data, and how it is protected 
  • The collection period: Communicate the start- and end date of the survey and inform about reminder messages
  • The follow-up processes: Inform about how and when the results will be presented and in which framework they will flow into subsequent processes

Even if it is not possible to cover all points, it is crucial that the communication encourages employees to participate and conveys to them that their opinion is valued and has an impact. Especially the emphasis on the anonymity of the survey is significant here. 


I hope this article has given you inspiration for the successful implementation of your next employee survey.

If you have questions or need support in planning and implementing your next survey, feel free to reach out.



Frieg, P., & Hossiep, R. (2018). Mitarbeiterbefragungen – bei den Unternehmen nach wie vor ein etablierter Klassiker [Employee Surveys – Still an Established and Classic Tool at Organizations]. Wirtschaftspsychologie Aktuell, 25(4), 13-16. 

Ferdinand Wintermantel

Social Scientist ( M.A.) | Sociology, Politics & Economics (B.A.)


Xact By Rambøll

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