1. Make a plan for your survey.
- What purpose does the survey serve?
- How will the results be used?
- What needs to be asked so that you can take action afterwards?
2. Keep your survey focused.
- Focus on only 1-2 key topics of interest per survey.
- Questions at the beginning of the survey should be general, getting narrower with each question.
3. Keep your survey short.
- Make a survey that can be completed in less than 2 or 3 minutes.
- A pulse survey often has no more than 10–12 questions.
4. Keep your survey simple.
- Avoid longer words; short words are easier to read and are less mentally taxing on your survey-takers.
- Use words that have a clear meaning rather than words that could be interpreted in multiple ways.
- Avoid technical jargon; use everyday language.
- Keep your survey questions short.
- Avoid negative words, such as “not,” “can’t,” or “don’t”
- PRO-TIP: Include only one thought per question; avoid having multiple ideas in one question, which is often the case when words like “and” or “or” are used.
5. Aim for rich, meaningful data.
- If you want to ask a yes/no question, consider if a yes/no item actually makes the most sense for what you're trying to understand about your employees' experiences.
- If you’ve just written a rather long question, ask yourself: can it be split into two or more questions?
- If you want feedback about a past event, how long has it been since that event occurred?
- If you want feedback about an upcoming event, how much time will you have to process and act on survey results?
6. Make sure the response options make sense.
- The same number of response options should be used for all items of the same kind, such as all multiple-choice questions listing 5, 6, or 7 points.
- Strike a balance with the number of response options a question has. This is why 4- to 7-point response scales are so popular; there are enough options to be specific, but not so many that the difference between one response option to the next is meaningless.
- For questions that involve choosing one option from a list, include an “other” option that respondents can then fill in.
- Include an “out” response options when appropriate. These response options are generally “I don’t know” and some form of non-applicability, like “n/a,” “not applicable,” or “This doesn’t apply to me.”
- Make sure response options don’t overlap. For example, if respondents are asked how many hours they worked on a certain project, and the response options are “1 – 5 hours,” “5 – 10 hours,” “10 – 15 hours,” and “15 or more hours,” then respondents who worked exactly 5, 10, or 15 hours can choose two options – with both options technically being true.
7. Walk away for a day.
- After you create a survey, set it aside for a while.
- Take time for a final read-through and editing process before sending the survey to respondents.