Human Resources
What's Your Point: The Importance of Response Scales for Employee Survey Measurement Accuracy and Decisions

What's Your Point?

The Importance of Response Scales for Employee Survey Measurement Accuracy and Decisions

Most organizations use or are considering using employee engagement surveys to measure engagement and organizational drivers. In survey design, the quality of item content seems to get a lot of attention, but little attention is paid to the importance of the response scale.

Most, if not all, employee engagement surveys use some variation of a Likert scale (see commonly used scales in Figures 1a–c below) to capture employee responses.

Figure 1a. Traditional Five-Point Likert Scale

1 2 3 4 5
Strongly Disagree Disagree Neither Agree nor Disagree Agree Strongly Agree

Figure 1b. Modified Five-Point Scale

1 2 3 4 5
Disagree Tend to Disagree ? Tend to Agree Agree

Figure 1c. Aon Hewitt Six-Point Scale

1 2 3 4 5 6
Strongly Disagree Disagree Slightly Disagree Slightly Agree Agree Strongly Agree

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Learn more about the three major response scales, and why we believe a six-point scale to be superior to five-point response scales.

 


Although the differences between these scales may appear trivial, the insights and decisions derived from the same items can vary significantly depending on the choice of scale. Many survey companies use a traditional five-point Likert scale (Figure 1a above) and consider this approach to be best practice. However, we will argue that the use of a five-point scale is not so much best practice as simply common practice.