Open-ended questions are questions that require to answer with a comment. They enable coworkers to express themselves freely on a given topic, and admins and results viewers to collect the raw opinions of participants.
In this article, we give you our tips on how to formulate your open-ended questions and get usable feedback:
- Why create an open-ended question?
Why create an open-ended question?
Open-ended questions are valuable for :
- providing participants with an opportunity to express themselves freely
- directing your future topics to explore thanks to this free feedback ;
- collect initial ideas for improvement.
Supermood offers two ways to collect feedback: either with open-ended questions or with the "allow comments" option on closed-ended questions.
Our recommendation: If you want context on the score of a particular question, you should enable comments on that closed-ended question rather than on a separate open-ended question. This will allow you to analyze the comments based on the scores from the platform's tools.
4 tips on how to phrase an open-ended question
Addressing one topic at a time
Focus on one issue at a time! A multi-topic question could lose participants and make it hard to analyze the comments.
Consider an example:
❌ How can we improve relationships between coworkers, as well as between managers and coworkers?
→ With this phrasing, you may not be able to distinguish between responses regarding peer relationships and those referring to the relationship with managers.
→ Addressing two topics in one question requires more thought on the part of participants. You may encourage them to answer only one issue or skip the question altogether.
Instead, opt for two separate questions:
✅ How can we improve coworker relationships?
✅ How can we improve relationships between managers and coworkers?
Be sure to use neutral language, not expressing a particular opinion, to avoid influencing participants' responses.
Consider an example:
❌ We have significantly improved the format of our meetings. What do you think?
→ This wording does not encourage participants to formulate an opinion of their own but instead pushes them to position themselves against an already established opinion.
Remove the bias and opt for this type of wording instead:
✅ What do you think of the format of our meetings?
Be clear and concise
Formulate your questions clearly and concisely to reduce the participants' thinking time. Remember to be clear about the context while being careful with run-on sentences.
If you want to avoid run-on sentences, you can:
- Introduce context through questions previously asked in your survey and/or through a specific section. Then position your open-ended question once the topic has been clarified: you may not need to re-specify the context in the question!
- Review the wording of your questions and lighten them as soon as they contain more than two commas.
Let's take an example:
❌What actions (tools, behaviors, events, etc.) could we take to improve the company's communication?
→ This formulation does not allow participants to know whether we are talking about the company's internal or external communication, peer-to-peer exchanges, or communication done by managers, etc.
→ Here, you would risk limiting the participants' suggestions by detailing what these actions could be.
Just remember to specify the context as in the examples below:
✅What actions could we take to improve peer-to-peer exchanges?
✅What actions could we take to improve communication with your manager?
Be careful with sensitive questions
We recommend that you avoid asking sensitive questions in writing that have to do with exploring your coworkers' mental and emotional states. Here are at least two good reasons:
→ The answers are rarely actionable given the breadth and complexity of the topic. In addition, it is unlikely that you will get a true picture of the mental and emotional state of your teams because emotions can vary greatly on the same topic depending on the immediate experience of the participant.
→ It is not always easy to write down your emotional state. You would risk having a low response rate and losing the trust of coworkers if you are not able to act quickly on this feedback.
Prefer wording that asks for solutions and actions, rather than questions that push to describe facts, problems, or situations.
Consider an example:
❌ What makes you anxious at work?
→ This phrasing pushes the participant to look for things that make them anxious when they don't necessarily have to.
Instead, adopt an action-oriented formulation:
✅ What do you need to be serene at work?
Need some guidance in creating your surveys? You can use the library of questions written by our experts or contact your account executive!
Now you're ready to create your custom questions!