If there is one thing that keeps coming up, whether it’s about designing engaging content, making the right videos for learning or mapping out the best course paths for learners, that is the ever so important “know your audience!” advice.
It’s common sense that before you set out to do something for other people, you should get an idea of who they are and what they expect. Then, once the content is designed and delivered, it’s best to assess its impact as perceived by the attendee.
All these can only happen with the use of polls and surveys.
3 Best practices for L&D surveys
It’s all pretty simple up to this point: you ask them what they want before you start and you ask them if it was up to par once you’re done, right?
Wrong! People are literally assaulted with surveys nowadays; you can’t even stay in line at supermarket without pushing emoticon faces about your experience before being allowed to take your groceries home. That’s why when and how you ask the questions holds the key to getting relevant answers.
So check out these following best practices on how to ensure your L&D survey will get you the right answers.
Honesty is a big selling point
Surveys take time and people are not always very clear about their purpose or how the answers are going to be used. That’s why it’s best to lead with the utmost transparency and give away all this important information before starting with the questions.
Let people know how much of their time will need to be dedicated to this, tell them what the inquiries are about and how will the resulting data be processed.
It’s highly recommended to offer and guarantee complete anonymity as people tend to give what answers they think are desired (rather the ones they really feel like giving) if they know a team supervisor or an HR representative will have unhindered access to the completed questionnaires.
Last but not least, making sure everything is compliant with the regulations of the country where the surveys are conducted is mandatory. This may prove a little tricky if departments of a company are spread across different countries, continents and cultures as questionnaires will have to be adapted so that they stay both relevant and compliant.
Incentives never fail
The very definition of incentive is “inducement or supplemental reward that serves as a motivational device for a desired action or behavior “. As I have mentioned before, it’s not great fun to give answers to surveys. Even less so with so many of them everywhere and with the subject having to do with business learning.
Apart from letting the respondents know why it’s necessary for them to answer and how all those answers will be used, it helps if there is also something in it for them. Incentives work for everybody but they are particularly effective for the young generations who were raised with online gaming.
It’s important, however, to pick the right incentive.
Since questionnaires about corporate learning are normally aimed at existing employees, it’s more likely to go with the non-monetary version of them. Starting from there, the sky’s the limit (or the creativity of the L&D people). They can range for a funny frame on the picture featured on the company’s intranet to cool promotional items with the company logo to a pass to an upcoming conference.
Go for automated optimization
It goes without saying that in order to achieve this, surveys should be generated in the company’s LMS.
It’s impossible to otherwise design all the questions on a survey in a way that they apply to everybody. Even employees working in the same department or team have different competencies and levels of seniority. Some have already completed some courses, others have just joined the company and have a different learning background.
Instead of asking a lot of questions thus risking the respondents to get tired and either close the survey or give irrelevant answers just to get it over with, having a good automated filter that can adapt the questionnaire to the respondent will prove a lot more efficient.
First of all, people are more likely to see the point of the questions and second it will be a lot easier to process the responses and come up with adapted learning solutions.
It may mean putting in more effort in the survey design but it will all be well worth it.
All in all
Knowledge is power. Having a good idea about learning gaps, expectations and prior experience gives instructional designers the power to come up with relevant and effective programs and the ability to quantify their results.
Raluca Cristescu is a Faculty of Letters graduate with over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.