Seven steps to make staff wellbeing surveys actually useful

Too often, staff wellbeing surveys are a waste of time and tell leaders little about the reality of staff happiness, says Mike Lamb, director of Staff Welfare at Hurstpierpoint College in the Tes.

Do you know if your staff are happy? Many a headteacher will say “yes”, but how sure are they, really?

Push them, and they will point to a staff survey. And when I look at those staff surveys, my heart can often sink.

For example, there are various “off the shelf” questionnaires accessible online. but an institution-specific survey reveals more about key specific issues and will be more accessible and appropriate.

How do you build an effective staff survey? Below are a few points we considered at our school.

1. Expectations

A survey of this sort raises expectations about what will happen to feedback. As such, you must be clear from the outset with all involved what the point of the survey is, what will be done with the information and how that will impact the school moving forwards. For example, you might make it clear that the purpose is information gathering and the answers may help shape a wellbeing strategy moving forwards. This can be set out in a preamble or even in early communications about the survey.

2. Format

The survey needs to be as accessible as possible to get input from as many staff as possible. The questions should be easy to interpret and answer honestly. A survey announced via email and completed online will likely gather the largest amount of responses, however, will it reach staff that don’t use email or who are less IT literate? Google Docs and Surveymonkey are two well-known examples of online surveys that are easy to use and collect data with.

4. Anonymity

It is essential to offer true anonymity to all respondents. If they choose to be identifiable then that is, of course, their prerogative. This needs to be considered in terms of questions asked and also how the data is collected, analysed and disseminated. Some staff may be suspicious of surveys being used for reasons alternative to those advertised.

Read more points about staff surveys Seven steps to make staff wellbeing surveys actually useful

What do you think about staff surveys? Is action ever taken after feedback is given or do you just think they’re pointless? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin 

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