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Are we oversurveying our staff?

7 Nov 2016 - Blog

Are we over surveying our staff?


Earlier this month, HRE Daily reported that Lloyds Banking Group have ditched the quarterly pulse survey, in favour of a less frequent, more strategic in depth survey.


Is this a complete U turn on the recent trend for always on frequent surveying?

What David Littlechild, head of culture and engagement at Lloyds, (miss quoted as David Littlefield, but it’s the same person..) said was:

…the problem with conducting such frequent surveys “was that [the firm’s approximately 8,000] line managers weren’t gaining any new insights and didn’t have time to digest that much data and take action” on what the latest employee polls told them.


The whole point of a survey is not collecting data, but actually changing things as a result.

Employee engagement is about the active change, not the passive listening. If you ask staff for their opinions, they will expect change, and if you can’t deliver, you have failed they will tell you as much.

We produced this table some months ago looking at the pros and cons of survey intervals. A key principle to consider in response to this is to “only survey at a rate you can make change happen”.




What’s interesting about Lloyds’ strategy, is that they use more open ended questions, “to give employees an opportunity to talk about what they like and don’t like” about their jobs, and about their roles within the organisation.

“Polling employees less frequently and seeking more substantial input has paid off.”

At People Insight, we are big fans of open ended questions – they often give you a deeper insight into the quantitative scores – particularly if they have been themed and reported on (see deep comments analysis) properly by your survey provider. If you ask open ended questions, you have to be prepared to read, and evaluate as many comments as you have members of staff – which can be tough going unless you have them organised and themed appropriately.


One way we suggest to clients to consider surveying is to:
1. Measure in depth, less frequently for strategic review and to plan change. For example:

  • Use approximately 35 questions
  • Involve the whole organisation
  • Provide in-depth reporting and analysis


2. Monitor frequently, a few questions to see if changes from your in-depth survey have made a difference. For example:

  • Use approximately 5-15 questions
  • Involve a sample group within the organisation
  • Provide a comparative analysis of the “then and now”


The best way to survey will depend on your organisation.

The bottom line is of course that organisations are all different, have cultures, demographics, and engagement strategies. How you survey will depend on all of these factors, and providing you set and meet your peoples’ expectations, and actually do something in response to their comments, you’re on the right track.
Related posts:

Why the employee survey still matters

Employee surveys are a waste of time


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