Online surveys to outmatch your competitors

Stay ahead of the competition with online surveys

Online surveys are not always about politics or household appliances. By exposing unexploited competitive advantages, surveys can also be an effective tool for in-house development.

Do you know what your employees know? And what they don’t?
Are there any knowledge gaps in your organisation? If so, where?
Are all of your employees familiar with the strategies, values and similar key aspects of your company? Does it matter?

Development potential of your employees and the organisation as a whole

An online survey is an effective means of getting an overview of the areas in your company where there is room for improvement in terms of shared and individual knowledge pools. Numerous online services for performing surveys exist – what’s crucial is that you find the right tool to meet your specific need for e.g. further data analyses and usability.

It’s important to remember that the survey’s results are only ever as useful as the questions it asks. In other words, if your questions are generic, the result of your survey will yield only general hints. On the other hand, too detailed questions run the risk of confusing employees in charge of more general tasks.

As a rule of thumb, aim for a combination of the two. Niche surveys can prove enlightening, though, offering key insight into specific departments.

TimeLog uses them as well

Recently, the entire TimeLog staff participated in an online survey – a test of some of the many features and processes in TimeLog Project as well as our main company strategy.

The main objective of the survey was to gain insight into the best way to improve and develop shared and individual in-house knowledge. 2012 saw several new appointments, leaving experienced employees with the important task of training their new colleagues. Consequently, management can now focus their tasks.

Several benefits in testing employees’ product knowledge:

  • Offers a way of illustrating the company’s shared level of knowledge to all employees in a neutral and anonymous way.
  • Shows areas in which shared and individual knowledge leave room for improvement.
  • Helps other departments to direct customers to specific employees.
  • Can be performed annually or bi-annually, offering a means of measuring whether training has been successful.
  • The data can be analysed using statistical tools and provide an indication of where there is unexploited potential. As an example, half of a company’s employees get a generic question wrong, whereas everyone gets the three hardest ones right. Correlation analyses can be an effective tool in uncovering otherwise hidden connections.

Ideal for new employees

Once the survey is performed, the results clearly show which areas are in need of improvement – collectively and individually.

Online surveys into a company’s level of knowledge can also be used to train new employees during start-up processes.

Needless to say, online surveys offer a host of possibilities for increasing service and sales levels in particular. The fact of the matter is that a high level of collective knowledge is a sure competitive lead. In this context, you’d be hard pressed to find a more pertinent phrase than “knowledge is power”.

The online survey to-do list

  • Make sure all employees participate.
  • Set a time and date for the survey, not “when time allows”. Make this a collective event.
  • Review the results together, making sure the entire company is present and that all responses remain anonymous.
  • Make sure to offer a Q&A session afterwards, and that data to be used throughout the company are kept anonymous.
  • A “survey manager” in charge of formulating the questions is often a good idea.
  • Let the employees see their own survey results and, consequently, areas with room for improvement.
  • Use “knowledge gaps” actively in your future work: assign new tasks within areas of developing expertise. Ultimately, this can improve employee motivation.
  • For example, some of the more tricky questions can be used for informal in-house events in which several employees have a chance to answer the question and thereby share knowledge.
  • As with professional surveys, offering participants the chance to win prizes is a great motivator.
  • Furthermore, a repeat survey a few months later can prove rewarding as it shows the level of improvement in employee knowledge.

Anette Bangsfelt

Anette Bangsfelt
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