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8 types of survey questions to get high response rates

8 types of survey questions to get high response rates

Surveys have become an essential part of CharlieHR in the past few years. We want to be a progressive company that takes into account what our team wants – so to ensure we do that, we first have to listen, and that’s done through surveys.

But coming up with the right survey questions, depending on the situation and what’s at play can be challenging.

Moreover, how do you get your team to answer surveys and not simply leave your email unopened in their inbox?

Getting to that point takes a lot of practice, and after running a few surveys myself, I became quite an expert at understanding what types of survey questions really do the trick depending on the situation.

Let’s have a look together at what they are, and I’ll also give you 5 exclusive tips to write your own survey questions.

8 types of surveys questions that will get you the data you need

Without further ado, here’s a list of survey question you may want to ask your team:

A list is a great thing to start with, and you may just need it for inspiration, but how about I give you an understanding of how we use these questions at Charlie?

I’ll take these types of survey questions one by one and give you a short explanation of what they are, along with an example of how we’ve used them in the past.

1. Rating scale questions

What are they?

This type of survey question is the most common one we use – it presents team members with a question and a rating from 1 to 10 or 1 to 5.

How we use them at Charlie

We use rating scale questions for our pulse surveys – when we need brief answers in a short span of time.

This guarantees our team members don’t need a lot of time to think and can take one or two minutes out of their day to fill it in.

We also use it to report on one aspect of our work with a number. For example, here’s the pulse survey we use every month to measure our team’s engagement and motivation: This is better done regularly, as it would be difficult for people to answer this type of survey over a longer period of time.

types of survey questions rating scale

2. Multiple choice questions

What are they?

This type of survey question is about giving a few options to your team where they can pick several answers.

This can be great to gauge what people want from your company, without giving them too much freedom so that you have tons of options to go through.

How we use them at Charlie

In the past, we’ve used this question type when trying to implement and come up with a remote working policy. Before we presented our team with an option, we asked them essential questions about the way they liked to work.

Here’s an example:

multiple choice types of survey questions

3. Yes/No Questions

What are they?

Also called dichotomous survey questions, these are straight to the point – team members will have a list of questions to which they'd have to respond either 'yes' or 'no'.

How we use them at Charlie

This is not the most common type of question we use at Charlie. We want to give as much freedom to our team when it comes to expressing their point of view, and these questions don’t allow for that.

However, they’re sometimes necessary if you really want to answer an overarching question with yes or no.

An example of when to do this is before making the decision to work on something, such as changing a holiday policy.

yes no questions type of survey questions

Generally speaking, it’s better to make these big decisions based on more comprehensive survey types – you need to understand the implications of what that would mean for your team, and perhaps who it would benefit and who it wouldn’t.

4. Open-ended questions

What are they?

Open-ended questions are a good tool when you're just starting to approach a problem, and you don't have any solutions lined up yet.

The open-ended questions will allow you to grasp your team's overall sentiment on the issue - it empowers your team to propose some initial solutions.

How we use them at Charlie

At Charlie, we really like to use open-ended questions in our surveys so we can build engaging questionnaires for our team members.

An example of how this can be done is when trying to understand whether all the meetings a team or the company is having are necessary.

types of survey questions open ended questions

You’ll also get a wide range of answers that will lead you towards how to run meetings: how long they are, what’s in them, who is in them, etc.

5. Close-ended questions

What are they?

Of course, we’re not always looking for tons of answers to look through. Depending on how many employees you have, it can also be difficult to sort it all out.

So what do you do when you want a bit more focus on the types of questions you ask?

Well, you choose close-ended questions – this is the same principle as yes or no questions. There will only be a few responses available.

How we use them at Charlie

This can be useful when we want to understand more about how our team is using your benefits for example.

close-ended questions types of survey questions

6. Likert scale questions

What are they?

They allow you to understand whether, for example, team members agree with a statement from your survey or not.

This is done by making them answer a series of questions for which they are given a scale – for example, from very good to very bad and with nuances in between. This is super useful, in particular, if you want to get feedback on initiatives.

How we use them at Charlie

This is likely to help everyone reflect on what could be done better and how to change something if needed.

Here’s an example of what it can look like for us:

likert scale questions types of survey questions

7. Ranking survey responses

What are they?

Ranking survey responses allow you to get people to choose from a limited number of options, and have them rank the options to understand what the best is. .

It’s a great way to get the data you need and even pull a chart together as to what’s the preference for your team.

How we use them at Charlie

Here’s an example of how we used ranking survey responses at Charlie when we asked our team members about flexibility.

ranking survey questions types of survey questions

8. Demographic questions

What are they?

Last but not least is demographic survey questions – you may not understand at first why you would want to know such data about your team members, but you’ll soon realise that it’s crucial for your DE&I efforts.

Demographic questions are about:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Marital Status
  • Social background
  • Etc.

How we use them at Charlie

This is something we’ve always paid attention to, but we invested even more effort in the last few years to understand how critical decisions could have a different impact on our people depending on their personal experiences and identities.

In many cases, people may not have the same expectations from your business or may not be able to take advantage of your benefits the same way, so you need to recognise that to build an inclusive environment to work in.

Perspectives, however, can often be sidelined. That’s why it’s crucial to run surveys where you take them into account with real data.

An example of that is understanding how performance reviews are considered from different demographic groups – do all your team members feel like they’re treated fairly? Or do some minorities feel like this is not the case?

By getting the right data from them, you’re then able to make the necessary changes and understand how to rectify any issues.

Since most survey questions and responses are anonymous, we would of course ask people to fill in these demographic questions at the end of the survey so they can be anonymised. You can also make demographic questions optional if people don’t feel comfortable sharing this information.

5 Tips to build the right survey questions for your business

Hopefully the survey questions I presented above have given you some clarity as to which ones will be useful for your business.

However, bear in mind that the hardest part is not done – you need to get as many people as you can to answer those questions to get a full picture of your business.

You can nudge your people as many times as you want, sometimes it just doesn’t work – how do you go about achieving a 100% response rate?

I’ll give you the five learnings I took from working at Charlie and how they helped me understand what people wanted from us and how to make it happen.

1. Run short surveys at a regular cadence

Many companies choose to run yearly or quarterly surveys to gather feedback in many different areas, but in my experience, this isn’t always the best approach.

You need to think about several factors when it comes to these surveys:

  • The longer the surveys are, the less likely you’ll achieve a good completion rate as many people won’t have time to fill these in
  • Running surveys sporadically means people won’t be used to them, and therefore less likely to even think about participating
  • Sporadic or annual surveys will involve questions spanning across long periods of time, which means answers won’t be as precise and won’t get an accurate picture of the situation

At Charlie, I try to keep surveys short and engaging by doing the exact opposite. Here’s how we proceed when we put together surveys:

  • We carefully pick questions and make sure our surveys don’t take more than 3 minutes to complete to keep people focused and encourage completion
  • We run surveys at least every month (whether it’s about the same topic or something else) to get our team members into the habit of completing them

Of course, depending on your company size, running this kind of surveys may not be conducive to your goals, but consider it if you’re struggling with getting people to participate.

And if you’re not sure how to go about running surveys altogether, you can simply use employee engagement software like CharlieHR – launch surveys in a few seconds and get the results in a graph in no time.

Click here to try CharlieHR for free

2.Keep it anonymous

You may want to know who responded to your survey, and make sure you have all the information you can, but trust me, this is actually counterproductive.

Your team members won’t feel comfortable sharing what they think about the company or an initiative if you don’t allow for anonymous responses.

This means you will end up with, either low completion rates or survey questions that have not been honestly answered.

Regardless, you should always allow your team members to respond anonymously – and if you want to report on DE&I, make sure you make demographics optional as this may present an additional barrier.

3.Understand what you want to get from the survey

It may seem like an obvious point, but did you ask yourself what the survey was for?

Designing the right types of survey questions for your team members will first go with understanding what you want to get from the survey.

So perhaps before putting together the survey, sit down and ask yourself these questions:

  • What am I trying to measure?
  • Which time frame am I looking at?
  • How will I use the information?

This is just an example of the basic questions I ask myself before writing the survey, but also make sure that each survey question will provide an answer that encapsulates all of what you want to know.

4.Reduce bias as much as possible

One thing’s for sure: bias is everywhere, even in your team members when they answer questions anonymously.

So what do you do to reduce bias as much as possible?

I’ll give you an example of how bias can introduce itself in surveys. When we put together our nine-day fortnight policy, we wanted to understand what the impact of having every other Friday off had been on our team members.

That’s why we asked questions such as:

  • Do you think the new working pattern impacted your productivity?
  • Did you see an increase in productivity when it came to the new working pattern?
  • Were you more able to do deep work?

Based on the results and the self-reporting done by our team members, we wanted to understand whether they thought having a 4-day work week every two weeks was beneficial.

Regardless of the truth, most people probably were tempted to say they were super productive and focused to make sure we kept the 9-day-fortnight.

In these situations, and to mitigate these results and make sure you get a full picture, here’s a few things you can do:

  • Don’t just survey employees, get managers and higher management involved by looking at productivity stats and objectives
  • Provide clear statements to team members and emphasise anonymity
  • If you’re running a trial on a policy, don’t just survey once, do it several times during the trial

Of course, you won’t be able to completely remove bias, but it’s important to take additional steps to have clear engagement survey results.

5.Use templates designed by experts

Coming up with the right questions with the right amount of clarity and information can be a challenge, especially if you don’t have time to do it by yourself.

That’s when you can use templates to simplify the process – they’ll help you come up with the right questions used by others before you, and that has been proven to work.

At Charlie, for example, we’ve put together resources for people like you to make your life easier:

Select and launch new polls in just a few clicks with Charlie

Conclusion: survey questions matter

Hopefully, this guide will help you understand better the type of survey questions available to you.

Just remember the types of survey questions you run will ultimately benefit you in the long run and help you make better all-around decisions.

If you want to find out more about employee engagement in general, simply have a look at our guides:

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