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New Professional Practice Series Book Gives Surveys a Solid Foundation

By Robin Gerrow

The latest volume of SIOP’s Professional Practice Book Series, Employee Surveys and Sensing, addresses the ever-evolving topic of employee surveys with a solid foundation in science.

Edited by William H. Macey, of CultureFactors, Inc., and Alexis Fink, of Facebook, the volume examines everything from traditional survey methods to new approaches in analyzing and presenting survey data.

The first volume about employee surveys in the Professional Practice series was published in 1996 and reflected state of the art methodology for the time. But survey approaches of the 1990s were constrained by distribution options—namely paper and pencil. When the second survey volume was published in 2006, electronic distribution methods had become standard but brought its own set of concerns regarding the use of technology.

Nearly 15 years later, the use of technology has expanded and a new interest in talent analytics along with it.

The editors said that while this has created an exciting space with a good deal of innovation in methods, much of that innovation has been driven by commercial interests and is often unguided by science. “To take advantage of these innovations requires a solid grounding in sound survey research methods and approaches, as well as effective practice of the consulting skills needed to realize the advantages of those methods,” Fink said.

“The most important takeaway from the book is that it is realistic to do ‘good science’ and simultaneously meet the needs of multiple stakeholders who influence the survey process, thereby leveraging survey outcomes to the benefit of both organizations and employees,” Macey said.

Employee Surveys and Sensing refreshes and updates existing survey practices while also providing a balanced review of the entire survey research process. The book addresses topics such as computational linguistics, applications of artificial intelligence, and the use of qualitative methods such as focus groups. The chapters present a full range of survey-related topics, including design, administration, analysis, feedback, and action taking. It includes contributions from a range of authors with different perspectives, spanning academic, consultant, practitioner, and innovator perspectives and insights.

“I especially appreciate the variety of contexts addressed and the complementarity of perspectives – sophisticated science and deep practicality, up to the minute methods and engaging walks through the evolution of survey research,” Fink commented. “In particular I value the focus on both doing excellent work and ensuring that the insights are useful – through connections to strategy, action planning, and effective visualization.”

By design, the editors have compiled a book that addresses the interests of new survey practitioners as well as those with more experience in the field.

“This volume offers an excellent synthesis of the fundamentals for new practitioners, as well as insight and new thinking for deep experts,” Fink said. “I have been doing survey work for more than 20 years and still learned quite a bit from this text.”

“Survey practice is not at all like it once was,” Macey said. “Notably, there is a great deal of pressure to reduce survey length. Much of this originates from stakeholders, and reinforcing commentary from market pundits has only increased the resulting challenge of doing good science and practice.  The chapters on pulse surveying and sample surveys give significant help to practitioners in that regard.”

“There is a great deal of content in the book that is fundamental to the construction and administration of employee surveys as well as feedback and action planning,” he continued. “This includes conducting focus groups, item writing, data analysis, and working with clients—either internal or external—to help them better understand their results. Many new to the field will benefit from the practical and very hands on expertise represented in the book.”

There are new insights that will be valuable to experienced practitioners as well.

“The chapters on lifecycle surveys, sensing, multilevel analysis, climate and culture surveys are more than refreshers: They present new perspectives on creating surveys in a strategic context as well as advanced thinking to help practitioners be more impactful,” Macey said. 

Employee Surveys and Sensing is the second volume in the newly revived Professional Practice Book Series.

“The SIOP Professional Practice Book Series is targeted to solving today’s most pressing talent management issues in organizations using evidence-based practice from the field of industrial and organizational psychology,” said series editor Elaine Pulakos. “We’re excited about the relaunch of the series with a new publisher, Oxford University Press, and the terrific volume on employee surveys by Macey and Fink – the second to be published this year, along with a great line-up of new volumes in the works and coming soon.”

Employee Surveys and Sensing is currently available for purchase through SIOP.

For more information, Alexis Fink may be contacted through her LinkedIn profile; William Macey may be reached at via


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