The Best SurveyMonkey Alternative For Employee Engagement and Culture Surveys

Finding the best SurveyMonkey alternative for employee engagement and culture surveys starts by having a list of the features you need and knowing what questions to ask.

If you are a researcher, corporate culture consultant, or in-house manager of people and culture, then you are here because you realize it’s time to graduate from Survey Monkey. For the tedious yet serious work of understanding how employees feel about their work and the work culture, you need something better. You need a solution that makes it easy to collect culture data, visualize that data, and helps you understand what the data means and explain the data to others. This article is about knowing what to consider when it comes to looking for the best SurveyMonkey alternative for employee engagement and culture surveys.

SurveyMonkey is a flexible tool and, for your general survey needs, fits the bill with its freemium plan. Yet the SurveyMonkey employee engagement template leaves a lot to be desired. A LOT. And do you really want the brand called ‘survey monkey’ being the first thing employees see when it’s time to focus on their organizational culture?

If you are looking for the best SurveyMonkey alternative for employee engagement and culture surveys, then use this article as a buyer’s guide to understand what to consider when looking for a survey or assessment system that is specific to understanding employee sentiment.

The Best SurveyMonkey Alternative For Employee Engagement and Culture Surveys
The Best SurveyMonkey Alternative For Employee Engagement and Culture Surveys

What is better than SurveyMonkey?

The answer depends on the purpose of your survey. There’s only one solution in the market built specifically for culture surveys and that’s OrgVitals.

There are plenty of alternatives for flexible, customizable surveys like SurveySparrow, Typeform or QuestionPro. None of these solutions are built specifically for surveying employees or assessing organizational culture

In the space of culture management software, most vendors who promise culture assessments are actually performance management tools, like Lattice or CultureAmp, which are tools designed to analyze productivity. Can you imagine asking for honest employee feedback in the same system their work performance is being judged? 

Researchers most often turn to Qualtrics. While Qualtrics is astronomically expensive (their founder just bought an NBA team!), many universities pay to license the system so researchers don’t have to budget for the tool on a project by project basis. Qualtrics is robust, so robust it’s overwhelming and difficult to manage.

Qualtrics falls in the bucket of flexible survey systems that are most often used for market research or customer feedback (like gauging NPS). This is true for SurveyMonkey and you’re in the wrong place if you’re looking for the best system for external survey systems. As for internal survey systems for employees, let’s dig deeper by thinking about the right questions to ask when searching for the best culture survey solution.

How to Choose the Right Culture Survey Software

Here are the most important questions to ask when you search for the best SurveyMonkey alternative for employee engagement and culture surveys.

Does this survey system provide expertise to help you deeply understand people and culture? 

Send out an annual survey to employees to gauge employee engagement or employee satisfaction is like having the company visit a doctor once a year to take the temperature. The data isn’t going to tell the doctor anything to help make a diagnosis, prognosis or prescription. The doctor will only learn that the patient is generally well or sick. 

Luckily doctors have a lot of advanced tools by their side to move from a temperature to deeper investigation of the patient’s health. The same is true for culture managers who know to move beyond basic employee engagement measures and utilize culture survey systems that generate advanced analytics that are predictive. 

Does the survey tool generate culture and people analytics that look beyond employee engagement? Are the culture analytics advanced or predictive?

Using generic survey tools like SurveyMonkey means you’re getting a system deeply engineered to be a Swiss-army knife for all survey types for all types of participants. Visit the front page of any generic survey tools and you won’t find anything related to organizational culture. Perhaps there will be a template for employee engagement, but that’s like visiting the doctor’s office and the only tool they have for diagnosing your illness is a thermometer. 

People analytics systems often have the problem of blending employee feedback with measuring employee performance. Why would any employee provide critical feedback in the same system that is used to analyze their performance? For honest feedback and reliable data, avoid any survey system that advertises performance management features like goal tracking, 1-on-1s, and performance reviews. 

The expertise embedded into the survey system should help you measure across areas like: organizational culture; collaboration and organizational network analysis; diversity, equity, and inclusion; employee engagement and the overall employee experience; employee wellness, employee capacity, and employee stress.

Who is the tool really built for?

Many employee feedback systems are geared for in-house managers to use, and are not suitable for someone like a consultant who is external (and often essential to helping change an organization’s culture). 

Meanwhile, generic survey tools are typically geared for marketers to study customers and garner their feedback.

If you are someone focused on employees and workplace culture, find a system that is geared for your needs. Look for features that products like OrgVitals provides, like peer review; network analysis; segmentation of participants, a library of culture-specific templates that includes assessments for inclusion, belonging, and emotional safety; and the ability to export data visualizations straight into slide presentations. See if the system is configured to be run from the inside by a culture manager or from the outside by a culture consultant.

Does the people analytics system offer confidential and anonymous employee surveys?

Speaking truth to power is really difficult for organizations where vertical trust is low, meaning employees do not feel safe being honest or forthcoming with their feedback because they fear their honesty will invoke retribution. For organizations with low trust, you need a survey system that offers “zero knowledge” surveys like OrgVitals. OrgVitals has an option for confidential, anonymous surveys with zero employee tracking (no IP address tracking or cookies). These zero knowledge surveys are decentralized, blockchain-based employee surveys with encryption for maximum data security.

How flexible is the assessment system?

This is an important question to ask because you will need the ability to ask specific questions and survey specific people at specific times. If the system says it offers this flexibility, then you’ll want to know if this flexibility comes at the cost of simplicity. 

Many tools that are a SurveyMonkey alternative for employee engagement and culture surveys promise customizations that are complicated to manage. Talk to anyone who has used SurveyMonkey for their work and you’ll get an ear full about how much time they spend fumbling with the interface and harnessing the data collected in spreadsheets. This is true of many SurveyMonkey alternatives. Make sure the survey system you choose offers flexibility and is easy to use.

Does the system support pulse surveys or recurring assessments?

One pro tip when you consider what customizations the survey system offers is to look closely at how flexible the system is when it comes to distributing the surveys. Some will only provide you with a one-size-fits-all link to give to all the employees. You will want that at times, but you also will want a system that can schedule (often recurring) surveys and automate sending the surveys out to each employee.

What support does the culture survey system have to schedule recurring surveys?

As noted above, you will want to ask to know if the survey system can automate your assessments. Here’s why: employees have good days and bad days. Having them take a huge employee engagement survey one day a year won’t equip you to understand what’s going on in the organizational culture beyond the surface at a moment in time. 

Imagine surveys automating themselves to recur at a frequency that is suitable for the organization being evaluated. These are called pulse surveys. Pulse surveys are a fantastic way to run lots of different types of assessments at recurring intervals to get a deeper and more holistic understanding of the work culture. With pulse surveys, as a culture manager or culture consultant, you have a great chance to stay ahead of culture shifts and swings in employee sentiment.

Can you bulk upload an employee list to organize the participants?

For instanced when you are going to survey over 20 specific people, then you’re going to want to make sure you can import a .CSV file into the survey system to load the participants. Otherwise you’re going to waste time typing in data. Make sure the survey system can take a .CSV export from an HR department that lists employees with a unique identifier (email, phone number, and/or payroll ID).

As a people analytics system, does it provide in-depth data that assesses across the employee experience?

There are two aspects of analyzing the employee experience to appreciate: one, assessing the timeline and moments of the typical employee experience; and two, looking at the emotional components that need to be considered to understand the employee experience.

The employee experience timeline includes candidate recruiting, employee onboarding, training and development, parental leave, promotion, and the eventual employee exit. Good people analytics will look at offer acceptance rates, time to ramp up the employee in their role through support, and employee attrition rates. These data points are complemented by assessing how employees feel about their experience. This where the emotional components come in.

Understanding employee sentiment needs to look beyond simple employee engagement as a measure. Doctors use more than a thermometer to diagnose and culture managers should use more than a simple gauge too. When you’re evaluating people analytics systems take a close look if the system offers off-the-shelf employee survey templates with benchmarks for employee stress, employee capacity, and employee connectedness. See if there is a library of culture surveys for inclusion and belonging. 

Finally, as you evaluate people analytics and culture analytics, see which systems provide both in the same tool. Can the tool present data for each individual and aggregate this data for the overall company culture? The best ones are built to provide data sets and visualizations for both the individual employees and the aggregated data for the overall org culture. 

Does the survey system warn of signs of employee burnout?

Signs of burnout should be recognized by software, if the proper pulse surveys are deployed inside an organization to all employees. Companies with great cultures will have great employee retention rates. This is not by coincidence. These companies track employee engagement and other key employee metrics to flag warnings when an employee is reporting signs of burnout. 

As a culture analytics system, does it generate a network map with analysis of performance in the context collaboration?

The biggest gap people analytics and culture analytics systems suffer from is their inability to bridge the employee data to the culture data. Simply aggregating employee data doesn’t explain the workings of how the culture is created. Organizational culture emerges through collaboration between employees. Culture develops through the behaviors and habits in these collaborations. It’s impossible to understand how organizational culture develops without mapping collaboration across the organization. 

OrgVitals is the only system across the HR survey spectrum that captures individual employee sentiment, maps and analyzes collaboration across an organization, and aggregates data for culture analytics.

Does the survey data get visualized automatically? And can those data visualizations be customized?

The single biggest complaint of culture consultants using SurveyMonkey is the amount of time they have to spend exporting data to a spreadsheet and creating visualizations that fit their slide presentations. 

Table stakes for any culture survey system is to provide beautiful data visualizations from your survey data. The key when you analyze the different survey tools is to see which ones offer customizations of the data visualizations. Make sure you can load different segments of survey participants into the data visualization to compare the data.

And don’t be caught using a system where you can’t get the data visualizations out of the system, otherwise you’ll find yourself formatting low resolution screenshots. A great survey system should enable the customization of any visualizations and then provide the ability to export the image of the data visualization. 

Can you export the visualizations into presentation slides?

Unless you like generating visualizations inside Excel and spreadsheets, you’ll want your survey system to export images of your data visualizations. 

OrgVitals goes a step further and even formats the data visualization export to a 16:9 resolution so that it fits perfectly inside slide presentations or videos, with plenty of room for branding and notes.

Does the survey tool provide employee segmentation?

If you’re running flat surveys, segmenting survey participants doesn’t matter to you. If you’re surveying employees, however, segmentation is critical to understand inclusion. Any DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) initiative will require demographic data that enables taking all the data collected by the system and segmenting employees to reveal inconsistencies in the company’s culture.

What is the cost the SurveyMonkey alternative for employee engagement and culture surveys?

One compliment any user of SurveyMonkey can give the tool is that it’s cheap. Well, you get what you pay for. 

On the flip side, there are a number of expensive systems that start at 6-digits, meant to be used internally by enterprise-sized companies. These tools are either meant to be used for more than assessing employees (Qualtrics is to assess customers primarily for market research) or for performance management of employees (good luck getting honest feedback data in the same tool employees get their performance evaluated).

If you are capturing sensitive employee sentiment data, then you should budget for a survey system that enables peer review, collaboration mapping, data segmentation, and automated scheduling, to name a few critical features previously described above. 

Finally, if you sit outside the company as a culture consultant, then you need a tool that’s priced to fit how you work. OrgVitals is the favorite tool of culture consultants for a reason: not only is the product is designed to complement how you work (with multiple workspaces to manage multiple clients, with a place to manage your own personal library of surveys, and many more features perfect for culture consultants), OrgVitals as a business is priced to complement your consulting practice where you decide how your clients should pay for the service.

Are you a culture consultant? OrgVitals is an end-to-end assessment solution for your clients. Learn more!