What can I really learn from an employee survey?

The question here should be: “What can’t you learn?”  A well-designed employee survey can tell you just about everything. A good employee survey is a like a full-body checkup for the organization. An employee survey can tell you whether you have problems with communication, if all levels/departments/areas have confidence in a recent change in organizational strategy, whether employees have adequate resources to treat customers correctly, if turnover is about to spike due to dissatisfaction with compensation, whether employees are receiving adequate recognition for their work, what areas of the organization are lagging behind in terms of growth and productivity, and if employees are being properly developed.

It is true that an employee survey might highlight problem areas that executives already know exist. However, it can reveal the magnitude of any problems that exist and allow an understanding of which issues to tackle first. How much do we have to worry about it? Is it a problem across the entire organization? What is the main issue or problem we should confront? An employee survey can address all of these issues and more.