Posted by: rayseghers | June 21, 2010

Should Related Questions On An Employee Survey Be Grouped Together?

In an earlier blog post I stated that an employee survey should be transparent, that is, open and straight forward, with no hidden meanings or tricks.  I believe that questionnaires should be as clear as possible so that each employee easily understands the questions.

One of the implications of this is how questions are presented on the questionnaire itself.  I recommend that related questions be grouped together.  So, if you have three questions on Organizational Culture, they should be asked one right after the other and then move on to Supervisory Leadership.

From a very practical standpoint, this allows the survey designer to put relevant term definitions right next to the actual questions.  Sure, definitions are also at the beginning of the questionnaire but let’s face it people don’t always read them.  This is especially convenient with web surveys.  If people have to click on a link and leave their current page they are less likely to do it.

Now, there is another school of thought (but, hey, this is my blog, so…) that disagrees with this transparency.  These people often have backgrounds in psychological testing (not that there is anything wrong with that) where transparency can be problematic.  Testers do not want subjects to understand what they are really measuring since it could bias the results.

Well, in the survey world we do want employees to figure what we are measuring.  The whole purpose of conducting an employee survey is to build trust and open the lines of communications.  The survey itself is the best place to start.

Now, don’t even get me started on communications of the survey results…



  1. Ray, this is great information, especially for all of those people who think that a survey is simply a list of a bunch of questions.

    One additional reason I would give for grouping related questions on a survey is the same reason contestants try to stay in the same category in Jeopardy. Once our brains are lock onto a train of thought it’s easier to answer questions that are on the same topic. Jumping from topic to topic can be frustrating to the respondent.

    • Thanks, Stephen. I agree completely. The Answer: Grouped together. The Question: What is the right way to display questions?

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