Tips and checklists for the employee survey questionnaire

A Concept for the questionnaire

The framework conditions should be adjusted depending on each other. Content, scope, procedure and the target group must be determined in advance. Questionnaires that are output once can capture a cross-section of the selected topic. If a questionnaire is used several times, developments can be made measurable in longitudinal section. Furthermore, data protection decisions should be taken. On the one hand, this concerns the definition of authorizations for viewing results. On the other hand, participation should be voluntary and completely anonymous.

Subject and contents of the questionnaire

Questions must be generated for a survey. The quality of the content is characterised in particular by the fact that the topic in question can be changed. Items are derived from the defined goals of the survey. These are ultimately formulated into individual questions.

Quality measures of a questionnaire

The questions should reliably measure what is meant in the core. Therefore, questions that have already been used frequently and for which a high significance is known are particularly suitable for the employee survey. On the one hand, good questionnaires can already be available and proven in the company. Technical literature and science provide information on the quality and user-friendliness of questionnaires and generate the latest findings that should be used when independently creating a questionnaire in project teams or workshops. Another way to obtain valid questionnaires is to purchase them through sophisticated databases or through the services offered by service providers.

Privacy and anonymity

Important decisions must be made in advance to ensure anonymity and data protection. It must be decided which persons or groups of persons may view which data at which time. The release should be made by the works council and data protection officer.

Target group

Depending on the objective, it must be decided whether the entire workforce should be interviewed or whether a certain department or a certain hierarchy level can provide better information on the selected topic. In order to be able to make statements for the entire workforce, either a full survey can take place or a representative sample can be surveyed.


The scope of an employee survey depends on the previously defined goals and content. In principle, the questionnaire should be as short as possible. With less effort for the employees, the acceptance is greater and the participation rate increases. A good compromise between measurement accuracy and user-friendliness should be found in the questionnaire design.


A questionnaire can be offered as a paper-pencil version or digitally. For example, if not every employee has access to the Internet, both formats should be available. In the age of digitization, online surveys are an efficient solution. In addition, an employee survey via smartphone, PC, laptop or tablet offers numerous advantages.

Select questions and design questionnaire

The most important quality feature of a questionnaire is that the answers are as meaningful as possible. Only if the questions serve the purpose of the survey is the conduct of an employee survey justified. There are many reasons why a questionnaire can provide poor results: The questions are too difficult or too easy, incomprehensible or misleading, employees lack the confidence to answer honestly, etc. In order not to have to limit the meaningfulness of the survey at the end, certain rules and principles should be observed when formulating questions.

Formulation of questions

The questions in a questionnaire should have the following properties:

  • Concretely
  • neutral
  • Simple
  • colloquial
  • Eindequate

Determine origin of items

  • Use questions from existing survey instruments
  • Derive questions from scientific theories/models
  • Develop questions with the help of expert knowledge

Types of questions

Open questions allow for more detailed information. However, they are complex to evaluate. Example: "What possibilities for stress reduction does your employer offer you?" Closed questions have the advantage that they are quicker to answer and easier to evaluate. Example: "Are you satisfied with the overall management style of your direct superior?" - Yes vs. No" or scale "very dissatisfied" to "very satisfied".

Tendency to the middle

People show a tendency towards the middle answer option regardless of the question. The more precisely a scale is formulated, the more likely it is to avoid the tendency towards the middle. Scales with an even number of items require a natural tendency to the left or right.

Welcome and closing text

The cover letter should motivate the employee to participate and answer the most important questions. What is the purpose of the survey? Who is responsible for this? How much work is involved? Until when can I participate? Who can help with technical or content-related questions? What about data protection?

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