Can employee surveys do more harm than good?

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Inadequate questions in employee surveys can lead to poor decisions and wrong priorities

Employers are legally obliged (link in Swedish) to assess the risk for work related illness. At many work places, employee surveys are used to assess these risks.

If the questions in the organizations´ surveys are good, their data can also be used to e.g. develop teams and leaders

In an article in Allt om arbetsmiljö (link in Swedish), Dan Hasson, who is Docent at Karolinska Institutet with a Ph.D. in stress, says that a major problem in many employee surveys is that they are not scientifically validated – i.e. it is not certain that they actually measure what they are aimed to measure.

The consequence of poor questions is that the results also become poor, and that you cannot see what you need to address but might focus on the wrong things. ‘The survey then risk doing more harm than good’, says Dan Hasson.

Use data from employee surveys to continued dialogue

You don’t increase employee engagement just by answering employee surveys and looking at results. ‘People are triggered by consequences’, says Dan Hasson. They also interpret different questions differently, and therefore, the result from employee surveys should be seen as a basis for further discussions and not just a conclusion or alibi for your leadership.

There is also a trend that more and more organizations choose to pass the responsibility to the individual coworker. It is great that more people get activated and feel responsible, but if this is done in the wrong way, it can lead to even higher stress and illness for the staff.

Lisa Björk, Ph.D. in work science and active at the Institute for stress medication in Västra Götalandsregionen, says in the same article (link in Swedish) that it is a balancing act to give the coworkers advice on how they can handle their work environment: ‘If a person with a totally unreasonable work load over time is only advised to sleep, eat and exercise, it can become catastrophic. The risk is that guilt is placed on individuals, and that they feel even worse’ she says.

Do you use Pulsᐩ? Then you can feel safe 😃

Pulsᐩ Solutions chose early to cooperate with Lund University, to ensure that we were asking the right questions in our surveys right from the start. A scientific validation of the questions used in Pulsᐩ was also done early, to be able to make adjustments and prove that our customers work with the right questions, that develop employee engagement and wellbeing.

In Pulsᐩ, the coworkers are encouraged to do their own activities, and also this methodology is developed and adjusted for the coworker to be able to with small means participate and influence where they can. When it comes to areas like stress and health, we are very careful not to put too much responsibility on the individual; instead, the coworkers are here advised how to get help from their employer.

How to succeed with your pulse survey

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