Secret Stakeholders: how staff surveys drive your business forward

In Growth, Research by Jen Steadman

We’ve discussed the importance of brand tracking with external stakeholders, but there is another key demographic whose opinion is just as important when it comes to driving your business forward.

Your employees.

Unfortunately, many businesses prioritise the opinions of external stakeholders over their own members of staff. And while this mindset is understandable, businesses who don’t conduct staff surveys are missing a huge opportunity for growth. Let’s take a look at why employee opinions not only matter, but are crucial for the successful future of your company…

Why staff opinion matters

Business success and employee happiness are closely linked. It makes sense: engaged, loyal employees are usually more committed to the company in the long-term and better motivated to perform at a higher level. As such, 80% of senior leaders believe that positive employee engagement plays a critical role in achieving business objectives.

However, unless you actively attempt to determine staff satisfaction and engagement levels, it will likely remain a mystery. And having the information – even if it’s not particularly flattering – is vital as you can use it to guide future decisions that shape the business for the better. It’s little surprise that according to some estimates, up to 74% of business in 2019 conducted formal, large-scale surveys with the aim of gauging employee engagement.

The benefits of an employee survey

We’ve covered why staff opinion matters, now let’s take a look at some of the specific benefits of using a survey to find out what your members of staff really think.

  1. Demonstrates care: Launching a staff survey communicates a clear message to your workforce: we care about what you think.
  2. Learn motivators: Finding out what motivates your staff will allow you to implement changes that improve the experience for your employees and increase their engagement (and productivity).
  3. Improve retention rates: Finding and keeping high quality employees is not only critical for the success of your business, but it also makes financial sense too. As employee dissatisfaction is a clear marker for higher turnover rates, it makes sense to track it over time and implement changes to improve it.
  4. Benchmark progress: In the long-term, employee surveys provide a great historical record of progress. Depending on the areas that are key to your business, you can track the progress of a whole suite of topics and use them as a point of reference to guide future decisions.
  5. Predict behaviour: According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, when staff surveys were conducted internally at Facebook they found that simply asking people how long they intend to stay was more than twice as accurate at guessing their future turnover through machine-learning forecasts by an industry leader in predictive analytics.
  6. Change behaviour: The same article also found that by asking people for their input you are not only learning from them, but also influencing them. In the Facebook example, they asked staff if they were committed to improving their experience working at Facebook. Though they weren’t intending to influence behaviour, those asked ended up being 12% more likely than their colleagues to request a list of additional resources and tools to help them become more engaged at Facebook. This was regardless of if they answered yes or no to the original question.


Which type of staff survey is right?

There are plenty of options when it comes to designing a staff survey for your workplace. Here are a few of the specific types you could implement:

  • Career development: This research will reveal where your employees want to go and whether or not there is capacity for this development within their current role or indeed the company. You could find out whether your current training and development program is robust enough, whether or not your workplace is seen to nurture ambition and better evaluate the current training on offer.
  • Inclusion: If you’re concerned the current culture of your workplace doesn’t promote a sense of belonging, you could design an inclusion survey to find out more. Establishing an inclusive environment is a key step in attracting the diverse, talented workforce your business needs to thrive.
  • Employee benefits: Dig into whether your current benefits package is meeting the expectations of your staff. This type of survey can reveal whether staff feel they are fairly compensated, perks they would be interested in and whether you’re in line with the industry standard.
  • Job satisfaction: Find out what your workforce really thinks of their roles and responsibilities and whether or not they find the work they do rewarding. If they don’t, it will highlight how they can better feel challenged, generate more fulfilment and keep morale levels boosted.
  • Exit interview: A golden opportunity to provide invaluable insight from departing employees which could help improve retention rates in the future, while helping with the onboarding process of new employees in the here and now.


If you’re nodding your head to all of these and wondering if there is an all-encompassing solution, the answer is yes: what you need is an employee engagement survey. A well-designed employee engagement survey will uncover employee thoughts on all sorts of topics such as leadership practices, fairness of renumeration, workplace culture and team spirit.

While it’s a highly bespoke survey that would differ tremendously between different industries, businesses and cultures, it is a broad look at your workforce’s experience from which you’ll be able to ascertain what is motivating them and what is halting progress. The result? High-quality insight that will provide you with actionable ideas for a more satisfied and productive workplace.

Potential issues

At this point, many businesses are convinced of the value of staff surveys and are keen to push ahead and launch one as soon as possible. But before you start rattling out some questions, it’s worth taking the time to consider any potential issues which could crop up.

  • Time-consuming: Putting together an effective staff survey that will result in high quality insight and actionable feedback takes time. You need to be clear on your objectives, the right questions need to be designed and it needs to be delivered in such a way as to maximise response rates.
  • Long-term commitment: There is nothing stopping you from doing a one-time staff survey, but it would only be mildly useful. The best results come from consistently surveying staff in order to create meaningful benchmarks with which future progress can be plotted against.
  • Requires follow-up: Investing in a staff survey will add to your workload even once it’s done and the results are in. If no action follows the survey, employees may feel less engaged than they were before, as their feedback has essentially been ignored.
  • May not be flattering: You have to be prepared to hear about the negative aspects of your workplace. This might be unpleasant, but it’s vital for highlighting key areas for growth and bringing about productive change.

Given the above points, it’s useful to use a third-party market research company for undertaking this kind of survey. They will be able to best help you outline your aims and design an effective questionnaire that will provide you with useful data. A third-party company also acts as an important buffer between the company and the employees, which will help reassure your workforce that they can share openly and honestly with no repercussions.

In conclusion…

What your staff think of your company and their role are of vital importance to the future success of your organisation. One effective way to better understand staff experiences it to conduct a comprehensive employee survey. Not only does this demonstrate to your workforce that you value them, but it will help you learn what motivates your staff, how to improve retention rates, predict and influence behaviour and establish a useful benchmark with which progress can be charted against.

There are a large number of specific staff surveys you can undertake, but an employee engagement survey is all encompassing and will cover the most ground. However, while we are ardent fans of this method – it does not come without its challenges. An effective staff survey takes time to organise and implement, works best with long-term commitment, requires follow-up and may result in some unflattering feedback. Because of this, they are best handled by a third-party market research company.

Get in touch at to commission your own staff survey.