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Survey Question Design

Survey question database development starts with identifying what you need to know and how you will take action on the data when you receive it. Once these items are crystallized, we will know how best to proceed with survey question design.

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Five principles of survey question design

NBRI’s questions are written by psychologists and tested on millions of people. They are valid and reliable. Reliance on these standardized questions gives you the ability to compare your scores against your competitors through a process called benchmarking. Here are five principles that dictate excellent survey question design.

1. Keep action at the front of your mind

1. Keep action at the front of your mind

Focus on specific objectives related to your questions. Ask yourself how you would react if you encountered low scores for each individual question you include on your survey. What action would that lead you to take?

2. Only ask about things you can address

2. Only ask about things you can address

Narrow the scope of your questions to actionable items. By doing this, you will gather a greater amount of important information.

3. Ask an appropriate number of questions

3. Ask an appropriate number of questions

Every question takes up space on the survey, so make sure you’re asking valuable questions. Keep in mind that employee surveys are typically longer than customer and market research surveys.

4. Focus on a mix of “big picture” and specific items

4. Focus on a mix of “big picture” and specific items

Survey questions that focus on both will bring you the best results. With ClearPath Analytics, we can understand how specific items impact the data.

5. Don’t forget demographics

5. Don’t forget demographics

Demographics allow you to cluster your data into reports for better understanding.

Some examples of demographic information include:

  • Employee characteristics like tenure, age, gender, performance appraisal rating, pay grade, managerial status, department, and employment status (i.e., part-time, full-time)
  • Customer characteristics like zip code, age group, gender, income, average spend, or how often they use your service or goods

By following these principles of survey research, you will ensure a successful survey experience. If you choose to work with NBRI, you’ll work with an organizational psychologist who has guided others through this process countless times. Select your questions — and your research partner — wisely!

Avoid using “bad” survey words and questions

Avoid using “bad” survey words and questions

Along with the five principles above, pay attention to the language used in each survey question. Avoid questions that are polarizing, double-barreled, ambiguous, wordy, mini-messages, or negatively phrased. Mindful wording will ensure the most helpful data.

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