ali khan
Ali Khan
Published On
December 14, 2023
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When to Use Open-Ended vs. Closed-Ended Questions in Employee Surveys

Ever found yourself puzzling over your employee survey, trying to decide between open and closed questions? It might feel like planning a team meeting — you need the right balance to keep everyone engaged. 

In a nutshell, open-ended questions invite your team to share their in-depth thoughts, adding richness to the feedback. Closed-ended questions, on the other hand, are straightforward, making it easy to gather clear, concise data. It's a common challenge for business owners like you, seeking the best way to understand your team's needs and opinions. 💭

That’s exactly what we aim to do with this article so that, hopefully, you'll have a clear roadmap for crafting more effective employee surveys. You'll learn when to use open-ended questions for detailed insights and when to opt for closed-ended ones for simplicity and clarity. Get ready to enhance your survey skills, ensuring each question you ask brings you closer to a more engaged and informed team! Let’s get started 🤩

Everything You Need to Know About Open-Ended Questions 🌐

Using open-ended questions in surveys, especially at work, is like opening the door for honest, in-depth conversations. It’s a way to show your team that you really care about what they think and feel, not just ticking boxes.

Open-ended questions are like a friendly chat. They let people give you their full story, not just a yes or no. They are defined by allowing respondents to answer in their own words, rather than being restricted to a set of predefined options.

These questions get you the juicy details. It's like asking someone to tell you the whole story, not just the summary. Plus, there's no nudge toward a specific answer, so you get honest, unbiased thoughts. These questions need a bit more thinking and typing, but that's how you get the good stuff. They’re awesome for employee surveys. You get to understand what's really going on with your team, straight from the source.

Quick Look at the Benefits

Here are three big perks of using open-ended questions:

1. Honest, In-Depth Insights

It's like having a coffee chat with your team. You get the real deal - what they think and feel, in their own words. No guesswork needed. Think of it as getting the full story. When you ask open-ended questions, you're inviting your team to share their complete thoughts and feelings. 

It's not just about what they think, but also why they think that way. This kind of insight is gold, especially when you're trying to understand the vibe of your workplace or the morale of your team. It's like having a deeper, more meaningful conversation that gets to the heart of the matter.

2. Surprise Discoveries

Open-ended questions are like opening a chest. You often find valuable thoughts and ideas you didn't even know were there. They can lead to ideas and feedback you might never have thought of. It's like giving your team a blank canvas where they can paint their thoughts freely. This can be incredibly useful for innovation and problem-solving. 

You might find solutions to problems you didn't know existed, or ideas that could take your team's work to the next level. It’s all about uncovering those hidden gems of creativity and insight.

3. Stronger Connections

Asking these questions shows you care about what your team has to say. It’s a great way to build trust and make everyone feel valued and heard. When you ask open-ended questions, you're telling them, "I'm listening, and your opinion is important." 

This can make a huge difference in how valued and connected your team feels. It’s like building a bridge between you and your team, making the communication more two-way and personal. When people feel heard, they're more engaged, more loyal, and often more motivated. It’s a simple yet powerful way to strengthen the bond within your team.

When Should You Use Open-Ended Questions? 👀

Imagine you're at a company that's big on keeping the vibes positive and making sure everyone's voice is heard. You decide it's time to get some anonymous feedback from the team to see how things are really going. That's where Wrenly's tools come into play, right in the comfort of Slack or Microsoft Teams.

You set up an anonymous survey using Wrenly's tools. Sending surveys in Slack using Wrenly is a great way to meet your team where they work and boost response rates. You decide to mix it up with some open-ended questions. This isn’t about ticking boxes; it’s more like asking, “Hey, how can we make your work life better?”As responses start coming in, you see a range of thoughts and ideas. It's like getting a backstage pass to what your team really thinks and feels.

Using Wrenly's tools on Slack or Teams for anonymous feedback is a game-changer. It’s a friendly, low-pressure way for everyone to have their say and for you to get genuine insights. Plus, it shows your team that you're all about making the workplace better for everyone.

All About the Close-Ended Questions 🤓

Alright, let’s talk about closed-ended questions. They’re like the quick and easy snacks of the survey world. Closed-ended questions are all about getting straight answers. They're like asking, “Do you like coffee?” and getting a simple yes or no. No frills, just facts. They’re super user-friendly. It’s like choosing from a menu – pick an option and you’re good to go. Easy for people to answer, especially if they’re in a hurry.

Analyzing these answers is a breeze. It’s like doing a quick count of hands in a meeting to see who’s for or against an idea. You get your results fast and clear. They’re not about the deep dive. You get specific answers, sure, but it’s more surface level – like checking the temperature, not the forecast. Closed-ended questions are like your straightforward, no-nonsense pals. They get you the basic info you need, quick and clean, 

Benefits of Close-Ended Qs

Here are three cool perks of using closed-ended questions:

1. Quick and Easy

Closed-ended questions are like hitting a button for feedback. They're perfect for those times when you need answers fast, like during a busy workday or in a quick poll during a meeting. They're straightforward, just like asking, “Was our team meeting helpful?” with a simple yes or no option. It's a time-saver for both you and the people answering. Plus, this simplicity means more people are likely to respond because it takes just a moment to click an option.

2. Straightforward Stats

Think of these questions as your data wizards. When responses roll in, they're already in a format that's super easy to analyze and visualize. It's like getting a pie chart or bar graph ready to go. This makes them fantastic for presentations or reports where you need to show clear, digestible data. Say you're checking how many team members prefer remote work over the office – closed-ended questions will give you those numbers in a snap.

3. No Beating Around the Bush

Closed-ended questions are great for cutting to the chase. They keep things simple and focused. This is particularly handy when you need a clear consensus or a direct answer on something. Like when you’re choosing a date for the next team outing and need a straightforward majority vote. They remove the fuzziness of varied responses and give you a clear picture of where the majority stands.

4. Best of Both Worlds

With Wrenly you can ask your team for optional context with every question. So if they want to share their reasoning for their answer they can! You're likely to get less comments than an open-ended question but you kind of get the best of both worlds, clean data with some detail sprinkled in.

When Should You Use Close-Ended Questions? 🤔

These help you gather essential info quickly and without any fuss, making them a go-to for clear, concise, and actionable insights. Here are some scenarios where closed-ended questions work wonders.

When you need to make a quick decision in a team meeting, like choosing between two options for a project deadline. They're great for getting straightforward feedback. Think of questions like "Did our service meet your expectations?" with simple yes or no options. Also, for regular health and safety compliance checks, closed-ended questions can swiftly gather the necessary information without ambiguity.

Closed-ended questions provide a straightforward way for employees to express their opinions with the help of Wrenly. It's efficient for you and easy for them. For you, it leads to quick insights.

Some Examples of Open and Closed Questions

The difference between open and closed questions is the difference between a quick coffee chat versus a big meeting. The question you should be asking yourself is: Do you want a quick check-in or a dialogue? 

Remember, the best approach often involves a mix of both. Start with some closed-ended questions to get the lay of the land. And then move into open-ended questions to really dig into the details.

But, to help you get a clearer picture, here are some examples breaking down closed vs. open questions.

Closed-Ended Questions: The Quick Coffee Breaks ☕

These are like those quick, straightforward questions you'd ask a colleague while grabbing a coffee – easy to answer and great for gathering clear-cut data. Snappy, straightforward queries that get straight to the point

Satisfaction Check: "On a scale from 1 to 5, how satisfied are you with your current work-life balance?"

Yes or No: "Do you think our weekly team meetings are effective? (Yes/No)"

Multiple Choice: "Which of these benefits do you value the most: Health Insurance, Paid Time Off, Flexible Working Hours, or Employee Discounts?"

Rating Scale: "Rate your experience with our new project management software (1 being poor, 5 being excellent)."

True or False: "True or False: The communication between different departments is effective."

Preference Pick: "Which training method do you prefer: online courses, in-person workshops, or self-guided learning? (Select one)"

Agreement Level: "Do you agree with the new changes in our vacation policy? (Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree)"

Frequency Check: "How often do you use the company's fitness facilities? (Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Never)"

Priority Ranking: "Rank these company values in order of importance to you: Innovation, Customer Service, Teamwork, Integrity."

Employee Sentiment: "Do you feel your contributions are recognized at work? (Always, Often, Sometimes, Rarely, Never)"

Open-Ended Questions: The Full Meal Conversations 🍽️

These questions are like sitting down for a meal and really getting into a deep conversation. They give your team the chance to share detailed, nuanced thoughts and ideas.

Feedback Gathering: "What suggestions do you have for improving our remote work policies?"

Idea Exploration: "In what ways can we enhance our team collaboration using digital tools?"

Experience Sharing: "Describe a challenge you've faced while working on your current project and how you addressed it."

Opinion Seeking: "What are your thoughts on our company's current direction and any changes you'd like to see?"

Problem-Solving: "If you could change one aspect of your daily workflow, what would it be and why?"

Improvement Ideas: "What changes would you suggest to make our employee onboarding process more effective?"

Experience Reflection: "Can you describe a recent situation where you felt exceptionally motivated or demotivated at work?"

Expectation Clarification: "What do you think can be done to better align our team's efforts with the company's strategic goals?"

Culture Insight: "In your opinion, what are the strengths and weaknesses of our current company culture?"

Vision Sharing: "How do you see your role evolving in the company, and what support do you need to achieve these goals?"

Why Formatting the Question Matters 📝

Alright, let's talk about how the format of your questions can really shape the kind of answers you get, especially in a scenario like gathering anonymous feedback from employees using a tool like Wrenly on Slack or Microsoft Teams.

The question format is key in shaping your feedback. Closed-ended questions are your go-to for quick, clear-cut answers, while open-ended questions are perfect for when you want the full picture with all its colors and shades. Depending on what you need to know, picking the right type of question can make all the difference in what you learn from your team.

By using closed-ended questions you'll get a clear, quick snapshot. It's like taking a quick poll – efficient and to the point. You can easily tally up likes and dislikes, but you won’t get the “why” behind those opinions.

They're clear-cut and direct. When you ask something like, "Do you like the new office coffee machine?" with a yes or no option, you get straightforward answers. But here's the thing – while they're super for quick stats and clear-cut opinions, they don't let your team elaborate. It's like getting the headline without the full story.

By using open-ended questions, you're setting the stage for in-depth feedback. This is where you find out not just whether they like the coffee machine, but what exactly they like or don’t like about it. Maybe it’s the taste of the coffee, or maybe they wish it had more options. 

These are like open invitations for a story. When you ask, "What do you think about the new office coffee machine and why?" you open a door for more detailed feedback. Your team can share their thoughts, feelings, and even suggestions.

Final Thoughts 👩‍💻

In the end, picking between open-ended and closed-ended questions in your surveys is a bit like choosing the right tool. Closed-ended questions are your go-to for quick, clear-cut answers. They're efficient and no-nonsense. A great way to grab data.

On the other hand, open-ended questions are perfect when you're looking for depth. You might even find an 'aha' moment. They're like opening the floor for a conversation. It might be full of creative ideas. 

The key is to strike a balance, using each type of question to its full potential. This way, you'll not only capture the pulse of your team but also understand the heart behind their thoughts. Here’s to bring out the best in your workplace! Whatever question style you would like to work with, Wrenly is here to help. 🤖

Wrenly’s integration with Slack and Microsoft Teams is a big plus. Imagine being able to conduct surveys right where your team already communicates daily. It's like setting up a feedback booth in your office’s busiest hallway – super convenient and likely to increase response rates.

Wrenly looks super promising for employee surveys. It's got AI smarts and works right within Slack. You get cool features like autopilot and health scores. Plus, diving into those survey insights becomes a breeze. And hey, there's a free trial, too — definitely worth checking out. 🌟

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More Articles From Ali Khan

Ali is a co-founder of Wrenly known for his innovative thinking and exceptional drive to create value for every Wrenly customer. His dedication, mentorship, and leadership skills have not only shaped various careers but have also made him an invaluable asset to the Wrenly team.

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