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Are employee surveys a waste of time?

By Emma Musgrave | |5 minute read

Despite them being a staple of workplace evaluations for decades, questions have been raised about the effectiveness of employee surveys.

For what feels like forever, employee surveys have helped business leaders set the benchmark, giving them key insight into employee satisfaction rates and offering a chance for staff to voice their opinions on issues impacting them and the organisation as a whole. 

However, new research from Better Being has questioned the concept of employee surveys — at least in their current form.


According to the data, the average employee response rate to a survey is less than half (30 per cent).

Meanwhile, the abandon rate is 20 per cent for surveys that take up to eight minutes to complete.

Just one in five employees believe their manager would actually act on any feedback survey suggestions, and 29 per cent of employees think they’re pointless altogether.

“Australian employees are sleeping less and experiencing more and more stress due to increasing job demands. In fact, 68.5 per cent of people report feeling burnt out at work. Workplace stress is associated with decreased productivity and increased rates of absenteeism, costing businesses a reported $480 million.

“We know employee wellbeing is important; however, sending another workplace survey is no longer a sustainable solution.”

So how can organisations accurately measure their employee’s wellbeing and reduce the risk of burnout?  

According to Better Being, employee surveys should give staff a chance to voice what truly matters. Rather than having ‘tick a box’ options, employees should be empowered to put forward ideas, suggestions and feedback on how to improve wellbeing and life at work – without the fear of repercussion. 

“Employee surveys have been a staple of workplace evaluations for decades, providing managers with insights into employee opinions, job satisfaction, and whether complimentary fruit bowels in the office sound like a great idea (we all know this one),” the group said.

“This traditional approach has come under scrutiny for its limitations and potential for bias, with many employees often feeling uncomfortable in sharing their true feelings and experiences, particularly if they fear consequences from their employer.

“The truth is many businesses use surveys to ‘tick a box’ and do not design surveys to appropriately capture the complex experiences of employees or reflect the range of factors such as movement and nutrition, which impact wellbeing.”

Furthermore, employee surveys should be conducted more regularly, Better Being said.

“[Employee surveys] are usually conducted annually or bi-annually, which means employers only receive a snapshot of employee wellbeing at a particular moment in time, rather than an ongoing evaluation of employee experience,” it said.

Going forward, business leaders should ensure their employee surveys are meaningful, thought-out, and speak to core issues impacting their staff.

“Accurately measuring employee wellbeing is essential for organisations looking to create a healthy work environment and to reduce psychosocial risks,” the group said.



An employee is a person who has signed a contract with a company to provide services in exchange for pay or benefits. Employees vary from other employees like contractors in that their employer has the legal authority to set their working conditions, hours, and working practises.

Employee engagement

Employee engagement is the level of commitment people have to the company, how enthusiastic they are about their work, and how much free time they devote to it.