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Employee Satisfaction Surveys: How to Remove Biases and Collect Proper Data

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

If your organization conducts employee satisfaction surveys, the quality of the resulting data is key to their success. That's why we wanted to take a look at a common issue that comes up in any type of survey or poll, and one that you might have even experienced yourself - non-response bias. 

Even if it's not something you've heard of before, it could still be hurting your surveys. With that in mind let's find out what it is, when it occurs, and the consequences it can have for your employee engagement survey results.

What is non-response bias?

As the name suggests, it occurs when people don't respond and there's a marked difference between the non-responses and the people who do complete the survey. For example, you could end up with only satisfied employees take part, or only dissatisfied employees take part. Either way, the data you'll end up with certainly won't be good data, will it?

The consequences of non-response bias

The consequence of non-response bias is, in simple terms, useless data. And useless data means your survey has been a waste of time, money, and resources. It's also dangerous if those at the top levels of an organization are led to believe their workforce is one way or the other - it means incorrect conclusions will be drawn and bad, even potentially dangerous, decisions will be made.             

What causes it?

There can be a number of reasons that employees don't respond to surveys, perhaps they're on long-term sick leave, or a failure in the technology used means that the request doesn't reach them or it's hard to complete, but the main reason is quite simply refusal to take part. An important thing to realize about employee satisfaction surveys is that the more dissatisfied an employee is, the less likely they are to want to get involved in surveys or initiatives run by their employers. 

What you can do to minimize non-response bias

First of all you need to decide whether a particular non-response bias is going to cause issues, because a non-response bias doesn't necessarily mean bad data, it depends on the type of bias. For example, we know that if the non-response bias is that satisfied employees are more likely to participate in your employee satisfaction survey than dissatisfied employees, it's something that's definitely going to be an issue. If, however, the non-response bias is that employees who wear glasses are more likely to participate, it's unlikely to have any impact on your data. 

So your aim is to make sure every respondent (or at least the majority, you're always going to get a few that don't respond for unforeseen reasons) completes the survey. How? Make it easy for them to physically complete the survey by using an automated and customizable online system like Primalogik 360, and test the process of sending out invitations to take part. Automated reminders are also a good way to ensure more participation. Perhaps offer incentives to employees who complete the survey, like entry into a prize draw, and be flexible with the time allowed to complete it. 

Top 18 Tips for 360° Survey Success

Friday, January 13, 2017

Gain invaluable and trustworthy data with these tips

Welcome to the Knowledge Economy. In today’s complex business landscape knowledge is power. The guessing game is increasingly being taken out of all levels of organizations. It is being replaced by data driven insights and decision making. When it comes to gathering data needed to evaluate employee engagement and performance, companies are finding surveys to be one of the best tools in their arsenal.

They are also finding not any old survey will do. The most beneficial survey method available is 360-degree surveying. In 360-degree surveying anonymous feedback is collected from anyone who works with the reviewee on a regular basis: coworkers, subordinates, peers, supervisor. These quantitative and qualitative data points are combined with the employee’s self evaluation survey to accurately and fairly assess the reviewee's overall behavior and performance, organizational effectiveness, employee engagement and job satisfaction.

While it isn’t difficult to administer a beneficial 360 degree survey campaign, successful administrators are finding that not all surveys are equal. There are tried and true best practices that should always be kept in mind throughout the process. We have compiled our top 18 tips to help you on your path to collecting accurate data and gaining invaluable insights.


(Courtesy of themilitaryleader.com)

Prepare for Success

Tip: Preparation is arguably the most important phase of a successful 360° survey implementation!
  1. Make sure the timing is right: Organizations with high degrees of trust among colleagues and management are good candidates for 360 feedback. If your company is undergoing a major restructure or if a blame culture currently exists, implementing a 360 process could have adverse effects. Make sure it is a good time to collect data!
  2. Define and communicate the process goals right off the bat: Hit the whiteboard at the start to make sure there is a clear idea of how the 360-degree feedback process fits within the overall employee development efforts. How often are you going to ask for feedback? What are you going to do with the results?
  3. Ensure buy-in throughout the organization: Communication from the get-go is key. You need to sell that this survey isn’t just a formality, aka a waste of time. Show that all levels of management are invested in the process. Make sure everybody knows why the 360 feedback process is being implemented and what the feedback will be used for. Establish that post-survey, resources will be invested to enact needed change. Employees will only provide honest feedback if they believe it will be used for the right reasons and if it is confidential. If you do ensure anonymity, it's extremely important to properly communicate the value of the 360-degree feedback process works, how the feedback will be used and how the anonymity of respondents is guaranteed. Employees will not feel comfortable providing honest feedback if they do not trust the system.

Now Build It

  1. Find the right survey solution: First off, there is no need to recreate the wheel. Find the right employee performance management solution for your organization. Look for a product that provides 360 feedback surveys, performance appraisals, AND employee surveys. Keep in mind, there is no need to break the bank when integrating a simple, flexible, and affordable solution.
  2. Keep it Short and Simple: The Harvard Business Review recommends creating “ a survey that requires just 15 to 20 minutes to complete, to avoid the survey fatigue that tortuously long instruments cause.” Also, make sure your survey follows a logical order and that it takes a reasonable amount of time to complete. Otherwise users will checkout/be lost by the end.
“...an employee engagement survey gives CEOs a rare opportunity to test whether their strategy has permeated every nook-and-cranny of the organization” - Leadership Guru Mark Murphy
  1. Make Sure Every Question Is Necessary: In the same vein as keeping it short, every question in the survey should be well thought out. Start by planning what insights you need and then work backward. Then pare down where possible. Also, when ensuring every question is necessary, really make sure you are asking the right questions that get to the core of possible organizational issues. Strive for clear and precise language that will make your questions easy to answer.
  2. Make Sure you Can Fix the Issue You are Asking About: Take a good look at every question and ask, "Do I know what actions the organization can take to fix this issue?"  If the survey highlights an issue that can’t be fixed, you could be opening Pandora’s box.
  3. Ask One Question at a Time: If your questions contain the word “and”—it can be a red flag that your question has two parts. For example “Which of these services has the best customer support and reliability?” Customer support can be rated differently than reliability. Combining these two in one question could make the data on customer support and reliability misleading.
  4. Avoid Leading and Biased Questions: Make sure you aren’t pointing a reviewee towards a certain answer. In particular, evaluate the adjectives and adverbs in your questions. It is quite possible they are unnecessary.
    Leading question: Should concerned pet owners RFID chip their dogs? By using the word concerned, you put pet owners not tracking their dogs on the defensive, thus creating bias. A more successful non-leading question would be: Do you think dogs should be chipped?
  5. Speak The Respondent’s Language: Use language and terminology that your respondents will understand. As in the example below, keep it as simple as possible and try and avoid technical jargon.
    Overcomplicated: What is the state of the cleanliness of the office?
    Good question: How clean is the office? 
  6. Use Rating Scales Whenever Possible: Whether you're performing employee satisfaction or employee engagement surveys, use good rating scales. Scales that display the direction and intensity of attitudes often provide useful data. On the other hand, binary response options such as true/false response options, generally produce less informative data. Most yes/no or true/false questions can be reworked by including phrases such as “How much,” “How often,” or “How likely.” When setting up the scale remember that an unbalanced response scale can mislead a respondent in the same way a poorly worded question might. Make sure your response scales have a definitive midpoint. Aim for odd numbers of possible responses. Also, ensure they cover the whole range of possible reactions.
  7. Provide “Not applicable” (N/A) response options: A N/A response is ok. A fake answer is not. Providing N/A response options prevents respondents from skipping questions or giving false answers.

Test it Out!

  1. Administer a pilot: You should run the process with a group of employees or only selected areas. Get real feedback on employees using the actual questionnaires you developed. This pilot project will allow you to validate your questionnaires and to address any concerns from participants. It will also allow you to get comfortable with the tools and get ready to prepare action plans based on the feedback and comments.

It is Go Time

  1. Choose appropriate respondents: For a 360-degree feedback survey make sure to involve a wide range people throughout the company that sufficiently know the employee under review.  Primalogik 360 allows people being reviewed to suggest their own participants, providing valuable input at this stage of the process.
  2. Make sure people take it: Communicate effectively throughout the process and track progress with survey email. Utilize automated invitations and reminders to easily organize and administer your surveys.

Now the Real Work Starts

Summary comparison tool provided by Primalogik 360
  1. Analyze the results: Now you have to dig into the data. Spend time analyzing the results. Don’t just send the raw results to employees without any analysis or pre-processing. When analyzing the results make sure you aren’t just looking at the averages, valuable insight often lays in the outliers. Use frequency distribution charts to gain better insight on how 360 feedback ratings are distributed across a group of respondents. Looking at the full range allows managers and HR personnel to identify areas of disagreement, performance gaps or opportunities for improvement.
  2. Use the data and follow-up with each employee: Effective leaders listen to the survey and enact necessary change. The easiest way to invalidate a survey campaign is to not convey management is listening and willing to make possibly difficult changes. After analyzing all the raw data make sure to produce an action plan for each one of your employees. Follow-up with each respondent at predetermined intervals to ensure they are making progress within their customized plan.
  3. Rinse and repeat: The 360-degree process is not a one time thing. Repeat the process and compare results to ensure the right behaviors are being reinforced, progress is being made, and that your people are developing the right competencies. The process can be polished, questionnaires can be perfected, questions can be refined. Just make sure you convey the value of each iteration and each respondent's time. Or else the surveys will start wasting away in email purgatory.
When done correctly and coupled with a robust employee performance management plan 360-degree surveys can transform organizations. They can also drastically improve employee satisfaction. Let’s face it happy and engaged employees are at the core of successful businesses. Primalogik 360 is here to take the guess work out of employee engagement and directly ask employees about benefits, job satisfaction, work environment, and how satisfied they are with management. On top of that our 360-degree feedback reviews provide a wider and fairer view of your employees performance by incorporating anonymous feedback from coworkers, subordinates, peers and supervisors. Don’t just take our work for it, start a free trial today!

Abandoning Paper-Based Appraisal Processes for 2017

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Happy New Year! Let's talk about resolutions. No, I'm not going to get involved in your personal resolutions, but I'd really like to know if your organization is making any business resolutions or changes this year. 

Here's why - I'd like to suggest one for you. To abandon paper-based processes and automate as much as possible, including things like employee performance appraisals and peer reviews.

You know it makes sense, and here are four reasons to make 2017 the year you start benefiting from employee performance management software.

Stop it becoming quite literally a 'paper exercise'

Also an expression for something that's not really valuable to anyone involved, if your appraisals are literally a paper-based process it's all too easy to file the paperwork away and leave it gathering dust for 12 months. A more efficient process using employee performance management software allows for reminders and automated workflows, something that employees and management can keep in mind throughout the year. This is ideal for increasing motivation to achieve objectives and perform well all year round, not just for a couple of weeks when appraisals are looming.

Make the process easier for everyone involved

A paper-based system is generally more complicated, with different people having to complete forms, make the required number of copies, make sure forms are filed correctly, hope they don't get lost in the internal paperwork on their way to personnel, and probably even more. On the other hand, nothing gets lost when you have a software-based process of undertaking employee performance appraisals, employee satisfaction surveys, and 360-degree feedback questionnaires - it's all in one central place that can be accessed by everyone who needs to be able to, wherever they're located. 

Allow less room for error

Let's face it, paper-based appraisal systems don't provide the best quality data, and if forms are being completed by hand, you can add to your problems the risk of others being unable to decipher what's been recorded. Even the person themselves a year later might not be able to understand or remember what certain sections are supposed to say! It also gives your organization the ability to drill down and analyze data from every employee, as well as drilling down to get the specific information needed. This is something that a manual, paper-based process wouldn't let you do without a lot of hours and pain involved, and even then, the data is likely to be flawed. 

Enjoy a less time consuming process

Everything we've already discussed in terms of manual workflows, issues deciphering forms, and so on, all add up to extra time spent, time that could be more productively used on other tasks. With that in mind it's no wonder many organizations still only perform appraisals once a year! With an automated process, the people involved in appraisals, peer reviews, and anything else you're moving from paper-based, will find it easier and more valuable to perform them more often during the year, giving you so many benefits to the business.

Primalogik 360 is one such tool that helps you and your team with automating the tasks of managing, sending emails and reminders. It also provides ample reports that can help your Managers and Executives focus on the results while still have access to the underlying data. Give Primalogik 360 a try today!

Not all 360 Degree Surveys Are the Same: How to Design the Questionnaires to Ensure They Remain Useful

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Do your 360 degree surveys evolve over time, as you discover best practices? The problem with keeping things the same is that you might be repeating the same mistakes over and over again. A potential issue with 360 degree surveys is discussed in this article in the Harvard Business Review (HBR), and we wanted to cover the problem, and the solution, for you.
 
360 Degree Surveys as a Tool for Boosting Self-Awareness

As we know, the feedback participants get from 360 degree surveys is invaluable to people of all levels, with everyone including leaders and managers benefitting from an increased level of self-awareness.

However, not all 360 degree surveys are created equal, and as the HBR article tells us, if the questions aren't designed carefully enough, they can actually do harm to both your organization and the individuals involved.

Do Your 360 Degree Surveys Produce Bad Data?

What do we mean by 'bad data'?

Your questionnaires will of course measure various competencies, and the way in which the questions are asked makes a real difference. Many organizations tend to look at behavioral aspects of that competency, for example for the competency 'developing others', means a potential statement could be 'Alice encourages the team to take part in continuous improvement'.

You're probably thinking 'But why is that a problem, it's the way we've always done it?' While using different behaviors to rate a person on key competencies does sound sensible, the problem is that participants tend to rate other people's behaviors compared to their own. If they rate Alice high on the statement we just mentioned, they're really saying that Alice is more encouraging compared to themselves; if they rate her low, they're saying that she's low compared to them.

In essence, when people are asked to rate other people's behaviors, they're only able to perceive and rate them compared to themselves, meaning the data produced is intrinsically 'bad' (or unreliable).

How to Design 360 Degree Surveys to Get GOOD Data

One way of ensuring you get good data from your 360 degree survey questions is to utilize the technique used in polls - carefully selecting a group of raters who are representative of the specific competencies you're measuring in your employee performance management process. But that's not going to be easy, in fact it's likely to be completely impossible!

The other option, and one that you can do, is to change the questions rather than the raters. While employees may not be able to reliably relate to another person's behaviors, they can easily rate themselves on certain statements. So instead of using the statement about Alice's ability to encourage continuous improvement, make the statement about the rater - 'I feel encouraged to take part in continuous improvement'.

Makes sense, doesn't it? Instead of rating other people on their behaviors, participants evaluate their own feelings - leading to a more dependable and accurate 360 degree survey!

Are you ready to try Primalogik 360 help you with 360 degree surveys?

What's the Difference Between 360 Degree Feedback and an Appraisal?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


The process of managing employee performance is something that usually varies slightly from company to company, but whatever the variations, the same principle applies - using feedback about an employee's performance to help them grow and develop.

One question I've been asked a number of times is 'what's the difference between 360 degree feedback and an appraisal', which is why we wanted to write a post about it.



The Appraisal: An Overview

A standard appraisal is, at its core, a process with only two participants - the employee and their manager. It usually looks at the employee's performance over the last 6 or 12 months (or whatever time period is used), and through the manager's observations on that performance, achievements and weaknesses are discussed, and targets or goals for the upcoming review period are set.

Depending on the company's policy, the employee's input might also be considered during a regular appraisal process.

The 360 Degree Survey: An Overview

The 360 degree survey is similar in that observations about an employee's actions, strengths and weaknesses are used to evaluate their overall performance, but the difference is they normally involve more than just two participants. With a 360 degree survey it's not only the employee's direct manager who gives feedback, it involves other colleagues such as their own direct reports, peers, and anyone else who works with the reviewee on a professional basis. By using observations from different people, it means the employer gets a much more accurate (and fairer) picture of the reviewee's overall behavior and performance.

As you can see, the big difference between this and a two-person appraisal is that without 360 degree feedback the manager is left with his or her impression, plus that of the employee (if a self-evaluation is conducted). That's it. There's no more input from others who may well have a more rounded view of certain aspects of the reviewee's performance, which means the review process may be missing important information that will help the employee to grow professionally (and, of course, help the organization).

Which One Should You Use for Managing Employee Performance?

We're not saying that you should never use traditional appraisals, with only two participants, at your organization, because they can definitely be advantageous in certain circumstances. However, due to the limitations of a two person appraisal, we believe that both of these tools are better used in combination. While you may not necessarily want to use them at the same time during each review cycle, combining a manager's appraisal with a more robust and accurate 360 degree survey makes for an employee performance management process that's more successful and all around. Deciding not to incorporate 360 degree feedback into performance management, just because you're already conducting traditional two person appraisals, isn't usually a good idea. Instead, look at 360 degree surveys as an additional tool to complement the appraisal process, and vice versa.

Primalogik 360 allows the use of both tools independently of each other. You can start an appraisal session for one cycle, while leaving 360 surveys for a different time of the year. Or you can combine both if you like.

Primalogik 360 provides particular tools to analyze results collected in both appraisals and 360 surveys, removing the headache of data collection and analysis. The manager and HR personnel can focus on the most important part of all this: employee management and development.

Give Primalogik 360 a free try today by starting a complimentary free trial.

The Importance of Rating Scales in Surveys

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Whether you're performing employee satisfaction surveys or employee engagement surveys, the importance of using good rating scales can't be underestimated.

What's a rating scale?

As per Wikipedia: A rating scale is a set of categories designed to elicit information about a quantitative or a qualitative attribute.

Rating scales are a crucial element in surveys and as such it is important to understand how to use them appropriately.

Rating scales can look like this:



Or like this:




Or with even more points or less points.

They're ideal for going a step further than simple yes or no questions because, as we all know, views and feelings aren't rarely simple. If employees are only given a black and white, yes or no question, you may well find that the complete picture remains hidden.

You've probably taken part in many surveys that use rating scales yourself, and Primalogik 360 lets you create fully customized scales to use in your own surveys. Our customers love this feature, but we know it's not always that easy if you don't have previous experience creating rating scales.

Intervals and Anchors in Rating Scales

Interval rating scales show strength of feeling or agreement - so rather than yes/no, they have a scale of options. For example, your survey could have the statement 'I feel comfortable going to my line manager for support', and the responses could be Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Somewhat Disagree, Somewhat Agree, Agree, Strongly Agree - these statements are called anchors.

There are different types of interval rating scales, like the Likert-type scale as above, where there are levels of agreement (or lack of) with a specific statement. A verbal frequency scale, however, looks at how frequently something takes place. For example, 'Management always keeps me informed of new initiatives' with the intervals between one and five, where one is Never and five is Always.

There are a number of other types, but for now we wanted to go through some of the important considerations when you're setting interval rating scales.

Proper Use of Intervals 

    Group by type - while you may think that different types of interval scales suit different aspects of the survey, it's often more successful to use the same throughout. Employees will often go into autopilot and expect the anchors to be the same, so if you start mixing and matching types, you risk the results being skewed.

    Ensure intervals are equal - employees taking part have to perceive that the difference between anchors is equal to avoid any bias.  An example of a poor set of anchors is: Extremely Poor - Poor - Fair - Good - Excellent. It's not clear that the difference between Poor and Fair is the same as Fair and Good.  In fact, it could be said that the Fair is closer to Good than it is to Poor. Another example of a bad scale is Not At All Satisfied - Satisfied - Very Satisfied - Extremely Satisfied. In this case we talk of a truncated scale. The difference between the first two points (Not At All Satisfied - Satisfied) is likely to be far greater than the other intervals.

Proper Use of Anchors

    Choose carefully - the anchor choices you make will have an effect on the results you get, so choose wisely and really put some thought into what you want to achieve from the survey.

    Set scale direction - there can be confusion with which is highest, is it '1' or '5'? That's why verbal anchors should be at least at the beginning and end, so participants can see exactly which end of the scale their answer is. Even better is to have verbal anchor at each point in the scale.

    Balance anchors - each end of the scale should be opposites of each other to avoid potential bias, so Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree, Never to Always, Extremely Dissatisfied to Extremely Satisfied, and so on.

Primalogik 360 allows different types of rating scales to accommodate the most diverse needs in surveys.  Give us a try today with a 30-day no-commitment free trial and see how Primalogik 360 can help you with your performance management needs.

Why Leaders Should Listen to 360-Degree Feedback

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Performance management within any organization needs to be done with the full support of every employee at every level, and this includes the higher echelons.

That's one of the reasons why 360-degree feedback surveys are so successful, where employees receive feedback from their direct reports and other people they work with within the organization - not just their own managers.



360-degree feedback is essential for everyone in an organization, even upper management, and here's why...

It supports leadership progression

It gives the manager (and their managers in turn) a much more in-depth understanding of their leadership qualities, strengths and opportunities for improvement, and so will help them as individuals to grow and progress within the organization. Self-awareness of their own performance leads to more focus on how they can be an outstanding leader, which is of course better for them and better for the business.

It allows honest feedback from everyone

Let's face it, no matter how much they're encouraged to do so, very few direct reports are likely to give completely open and honest opinions of their line managers face to face. Even peers of managers going through 360-degree feedback might be reticent to give constructive criticism openly for fear of harming future working relationships.

That's why the 360-degree feedback process, where feedback surveys are taken and feedback is given anonymously, works extremely well in managing employee performance when those employees are part of the management team. The confidential aspect of this type of performance review makes it much easier for everyone involved to be completely honest.

Primalogik 360 offers a variety of anonymity settings when launching a 360-degree survey.  From a completely anonymous survey, to one where only HR, only managers, and even the reviewees themselves can identify respondents. All these can be set on a survey-by-survey setting, or even as a policy for the whole organization - making the administration even easier.


Anonymity settings in Primalogik 360 surveys

It boosts employee motivation

We all know that the more motivated a workforce is, the better the resulting performance. As they'll be going through the 360-degree feedback process themselves, all employees need to see the leadership team going through exactly the same process. If they see it's only the 'lower levels' being evaluated, the resulting drop in motivation won't take long to start affecting performance.

On the other hand, when direct reports see that their opinions matter and that their feedback on their manager's performance is being taken into account, they're going to be much more motivated. As well as that, a good leader knows how to increase their team's motivation, and the better the leader's own performance is managed, the better they become.

It improves working relationships

360-degree feedback surveys help to improve managers' working relationships with their direct reports as well as peers and colleagues in other areas of the business as a whole. By giving managers a greater understanding of how their performance and behavior affect others, and by allowing them to improve on any weaker areas they have, it can really boost relationships with colleagues of all levels.

No matter how high up a person is within an organization, constructive feedback and performance management are essential parts of their professional growth. Not only does 360-degree feedback benefit the person on the receiving end, it has no end of benefits to the organization itself.

Primalogik 360 is an excellent tool to manage this process. It lets HR professionals and managers focus on the employees and the communication with them, rather than the process itself. Give it a try today with a 30-day no-commitment free trial.

The Importance of Employee Blind Spot Detection

Monday, September 19, 2016

When it comes to evaluating employee performance, it's not always easy to balance your expectations with the employee's own perception of their performance. That's why building blind spot detection into any performance evaluation process your organization has in place is immensely valuable, and it also helps managers to set the right expectations (something that's very important in terms of managing performance).


What do we mean by blind spot detection?

In terms of employee performance a blind spot is a difference between how an employee sees themselves and how their manager and peers see them. It's sadly fairly common, and it can often be a sharp contrast!