So You’re Thinking of Doing A Survey In-house…


A decision has been made to conduct a survey and you have been appointed as the person responsible for making it happen. You’re told the company hasn’t budgeted for this so you need to keep it as low in cost as possible. You think to yourself, “Hey, it’s just a survey, how hard could this be?” You decide to do it in-house and you begin to research the overwhelming surplus of surveys and survey questions available on the internet and soon realize that hundreds – maybe even thousands – exist. You suddenly realize that this survey thing isn’t so easy after all…

This may or may not describe exactly how you began to think about doing your survey in-house. No matter what circumstances led you to think in this direction, you should consider these points before you decide to keep the survey plans under your company’s roof.

Time is Money

It’s an old adage, but it rings quite true here. Even though the budget is tight for your survey – or there isn’t a budget at all – you and your in-house survey team can end up spending more in valuable company work hours putting a useful survey program together than you would in company dollars if you outsourced the project to a third-party survey vendor. The clock doesn’t stop ticking once you’ve selected your survey questions either. In fact, you’re only a third of the way there. Now you have to administer the survey to employees. If it’s online, your IT department needs to be involved. Human Resources takes the brunt if it’s a paper survey. Oh, and, you’re still not finished. Someone has to assemble and process the response data into some format that everyone else can easily read, understand and interpret. Hopefully you’re getting the picture by now. Doing a survey in-house takes your employees away from their real jobs. It can cost your company more dollars in the long run by absorbing time and productivity that should be directed towards the delivery of your goods and services to your paying customers.

Confidentially Speaking

Numerous studies and focus groups have shown that most employees’ chief concern when asked to take an employee survey is whether the survey and method by which it is administered to them protects their confidentiality and anonymity. To obtain certain kinds of information from customers, it can be useful to promise them confidentiality, as well. No matter how you spin it, an in-house employee survey program cannot provide the perception of confidentiality. If HR is collecting the surveys and IT is processing the data, confidentiality is breeched immediately. Plus, having internal people handle the responses opens the opportunity for inadvertent corruption of the data, and even unethical practices and harmful abuses.

Equally, if not more importantly, the higher the response rate is for a survey the more reliable the results are. In-house surveys generally yield much lower response rates than outsourced surveys mainly because people are not willing to participate from fear of being identified. It is not unusual for an in-house employee survey to have a 25%-35% participation rate, while we frequently achieve 85%-95% response rates for our clients for the same type of survey. Even if employees do participate in an in-house survey, how honest will their responses be if they know it’s being processed and analyzed internally?

Leave it to the Experts

A good third-party survey solutions firm will alleviate these pitfalls associated with doing a survey in-house. In the question selection (survey design) phase, an experienced survey vendor will first be sure to learn about your organization and the goals you have for the survey. Once those are clearly established, they can begin to pull the proper questions from their statistically reliable and validated set of questions to create the survey. You don’t have to spend your valuable time sifting through the endless array of survey questions on the Internet. Plus, you get an unbiased field-tested and reliable set of questions.

By employing a third party, you save even more precious time in the implementation, result processing and data analysis stages. Your IT department can stay on top of the technical issues affecting the company and focus on providing support to internal and external customers while HR can continue to provide the service and support for employees that they’re supposed to. And again, having a third party collect and process the response data not only frees you and your team’s time, it also eliminates the chance of someone in your company misusing the raw data.

Likewise, there’s no better way to boost the confidence your employees have in the integrity of your survey than to outsource it to a third party. This confidence breeds higher participation and increased candor, which translates to more reliable results. Even if time were not an issue, the privacy and confidentiality issues cannot be eliminated if a survey is done in-house. Be careful to consider the reliability of the data when you take action based on possibly tainted results.

Maximize your ROI

Leave it to the experts to maximize the value you reap from your survey program. That way, you and your team can continue doing what you do best without sacrificing time and productivity. And when it comes to trusting your results, you need a professional survey firm with sound statistical methods to process and analyze the data. It will give you the confidence you need to take action on and make a difference in your company’s bottom line!