top of page




Employee surveys can provide extremely valuable information for supervisors, managers and HR officials in cities, counties, and states when they reveal both the negative and positive sentiments that employees have about their workforce. They have the potential to lead to decisions that will improve workforce satisfaction and retention of valued employees.

But when employee surveys are viewed as nothing more than another form to fill out and there’s no feedback or sense that the surveys were ever seen by anyone who cares, then they can have the opposite effect.

“When you do a survey, you are implicitly making a commitment to employees that you are going to share the results and do something about it,” says Bob Lavigna, senior fellow-public sector for UKG, a firm that provides workforce and human resource management technology. “And if you don’t follow through on that commitment you are going to damage trust.”

We called Warren Kagarise digital engagement manager for King County, Washington to ask him about this issue and his advice was simple: “Once the survey ends, close the loop with respondents — even if the result is not flattering to the agency.”

He went on to say that “if you’re not able to close the loop and give the acknowledgment that we heard from you and this is the next step in the process, people assume that you were never listening in the first place.”

Of course, simply making the results of surveys available is only half the equation. It’s equally important to let the people who filled it out know what the organization intends to do about the problems that have surfaced. Furthermore, even if there’s nothing much that can be done, it will serve an entity well to explain why that would be the case.

“If for example there are complaints about compensation and there aren’t enough resources to raise pay, then it can be worthwhile educating employees about the value of the benefits to their total compensation,” advises Lavigna, “as benefits like health care or pensions can add on another 30 percent or more to that total.”

At a time when many state and local governments are concerned about their turnover rates, employee surveys can help keep a satisfied workforce in place. But if those surveys are perceived as a sham exercise, everyone would be better off if they weren’t used at all.


bottom of page