What are questions to avoid putting on an employee survey?

The biggest pitfall when creating an employee survey is asking for information you do not need to know. Examples include asking for demographic information such as age, ethnicity, and gender that are not pertinent to the study. Demographic information can lead companies into trouble if people perceive that their demographic answers make respondents identifiable, thereby affecting the confidentiality and anonymity of the survey.

Companies that tell employees that survey answers are confidential when they actually aren’t are asking for trouble. Using unique identifiers or very granular demographic questions makes it possible to know the identity of a particular respondent. If employees feel that the company has misled them or violated their trust, it has a detrimental effect on the integrity of future surveys. Example: It is very beneficial to your response rate to be able to send reminder emails for online surveys. But, you need to know who has and who has not responded to send reminder emails to the correct respondents. This and many other reasons are why some organizations hire an outside firm to conduct their employee surveys.

Asking for input on topics you cannot or will not fix is an invitation for trouble. Employees may feel that the company is dishonest when they know that their input is irrelevant.

There may be times in an employee survey when detailed demographic data or identifying respondents is necessary. In those cases, the company should make it clear to its employees the reason for the request.