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Preparation and Customization 

Preparing and Customizing the Survey

    The following information is intended to assist Survey Liaisons prepare the materials needed for the Survey of Organizational Excellence. Please submit the following items, as applicable, to the Survey Office at: Survey of Organizational Excellence, School of Social Work, 1925 San Jacinto Blvd., Austin TX 78712 or email electronic attachments to

(Click on the item for further details)

redbullet.gif (138 bytes) ___ Cover Letter
(3 copies of letter printed on letterhead)
            PLEASE NOTE: For Texas State Agencies, a cover letter will not be included in the 1999 Survey packet.

redbullet.gif (138 bytes) ___ Employee Names & Workplace Mailing Addresses
(See detail information for specific format)

redbullet.gif (138 bytes) ___ Organizational Category Design
            (An optional custom feature)

redbullet.gif (138 bytes) ___ Additional Questions
            (An optional custom feature)

redbullet.gif (138 bytes)  Questions: please contact the Survey Coordinator, at (512) 471-9831 or email

redbullet.gif (138 bytes)  Send Materials: E-mail attachments to or Mail them to:  Survey of Organizational Excellence, UT School of Social Work, 1925 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78712.  Our fax number is (512) 471-9600.

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Cover Letter

    Organizations provide a cover letter which is included in each survey packet. Traditionally, the cover letter is from the head of the organization and communicates leadership’s message about the purpose and goals of the survey. Information on how employees can contact the Survey Office in the event they have questions or concerns is also included in the cover letter.

    Each survey packet received by employees in your organization will include a cover letter which is usually from the head of the organization and printed on your organization’s letterhead. This cover letter informs employees of the purpose and goals of the Survey and also provides information on how to contact the Survey Office in the event employees have questions or concerns.

    A sample cover letter has been provided for your reference. You may use this letter as written or customize it to fit your organization’s message. Please do not change the information typed in the second paragraph which informs employees how they can contact the Survey Office and get more information on the Survey.   Please limit the length of the letter to one page.

    Other items to consider including in the cover letter:

  • Will special "survey rooms", locations or times be set aside for employees to fill out the survey during their work time? Some organizations provide a quiet location to encourage employees to fill out and return the survey.

  • Does organizational leadership have a plan in place to return the survey results to employees and respond to survey results? If so, some mention of these plans in the cover letter can improve response rates.

  • If your organization has conducted a survey in the past, you may want to remind employees of the utilization and impact of the results on your organization.

  • Is your organization surveying 100% of its work force? Mentioning that all employees are being asked to contribute their perceptions will send an important message, reduce suspicion and encourage greater participation.

  • If your organization is conducting a sample you many want to inform employees of the percentage sampled and reinforce that your organization provided a list of all employee names to the Survey administrators who, in turn, drew the random sample.

  • Please print three copies of your cover letter on your organization’s letterhead and mail to the Survey Office. Copies of the cover letter will be made and inserted into employees’ survey packets.

Sample cover letter
(printed on organization’s letterhead)

To: Employees of <Name of organization>

Re: Survey of Organizational Excellence

The Survey of Organizational Excellence is a survey to ask you how you feel and what you think about our organization. We decided to participate in this survey process to find out what you think our organization is doing well and where you think we need to improve. The results of this survey will be used to help improve our workplace and the services that we provide to our customers. Your thoughtfulness and honesty are critical for our organization to continue to improve and we have been assured by the administrators of this survey that your anonymity will be protected. Please feel free to complete this survey during work time and you are under no obligation to complete every item.

If you have any questions about this survey please call the Survey Office at (512) 471-9831, email the survey office at, or write to the Survey of Organizational Excellence , the UT School of Social Work, 1925 San Jacinto Blvd., Austin, TX 78712. Additional information about this project is available on the Internet at

Please return the completed survey in the enclosed envelope by the {deadline}. Thank you in advance for your participation in this survey. I look forward to receiving the results, sharing them with you and using them to help us improve our organization.

<Name and signature of the head of the organization>

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Employee Names & Workplace Mailing Addresses

   Employees receive a survey packet which has been individually addressed to them at their workplace. In order to prepare address labels, each organization must submit an electronic list of all employees’ names as well as any other information that facilitates mail distribution within the organization.

    Survey packets are addressed to individual employees and distributed to employees at the workplace. Each survey packet is labeled with the employee’s name and any other information that is necessary to ensure the delivery of the packet to the employee, such as a mail code, department or division name, payroll code, etc...  If you are conducting a sample distribution, you will still need to provide the entire list of employee names in order for us to draw the random sample. Submit the information in an electronic spreadsheet format, preferably in a single sheet Excel formatted file. Please use the following headers in the Excel spread sheet.   Use address(#) regardless of the fields content.  If you are unable to provide an Excel format, please contact our office for other arrangements.

For this year we are requesting that employee information needed to prepare survey packets are delivered to us in an (single sheet) Excel spreadsheet with the following headers and as an example:







John Smith UT-Austin SSW Room 3.106 Code D3500

fname: First name of the individual

lname: Last name of the individual

org: Name of your agency

addr1 - addr3 Any information needed by your agencies mailing system to deliver the envelop to the employee. You do not need to use every addr field.

Please do not use multiple spreadsheets or any type of formatting (borders, shading, etc…). One spreadsheet with the suggested columns above will help ensure that we are able to deliver the packets on time.

The printed label will look like this:

John Smith
Room 3.106
Code D3500

    Once prepared, all survey packets are boxed and delivered to you or your designee for distribution. Please indicate in your correspondence if you would like the survey packets to be boxed in any particular order. We will not be checking the list you supply for duplicate names, therefore, please verify that an employee is only listed once. In addition, many organizations will have hired some new employees by the time the survey is distributed.  It is your decision whether or not to include these employees in the survey. If you choose to include them, you can contact the Survey Office and make arrangements to provide new employees with a survey packet.

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Organizational Category Design
(An optional custom feature)

    Organizations may elect to have employees identify up to two organizational categories in which they belong. Attributes such as employees’ geographic location, work responsibilities or job description are examples of some common organizational category designs. Each organizational category is assigned a 3-digit code and is printed on the organization’s survey insert.

    Each survey packet contains an insert that includes information specific to your organization. One of the items frequently included on this insert is "Organizational Categories." Each organization may include up to two different types of organizational categories that are designed to elicit more information about employees’ roles in the organization. The data promote a more detailed analysis of survey data because the categories isolate certain areas, functions or other categories of interest in the organization.

    Organizational categories should be designed so that they are somewhat broad yet still yield meaningful data for the organization and each response category should be mutually exclusive. Data reports are automatically provided for each category unless there are fewer than 5 respondents.

    Some problems in past Survey administrations have included that data are not reported because fewer than 5 employees responded. In addition, some organizational units/departments have been accidentally omitted from the list. In order to prevent these problems, it is recommended that each organizational category include a minimum of 25 employees and that you use an updated organizational chart to create the list and have people from other departments proof the list.

The following are examples of organizational categories.

1. Please indicate where you are assigned.

Region or Division


Austin (headquarters)


Austin (regional office)


Dallas/Fort Worth


El Paso






2. Please indicate your job assignment.
Code Job Assignment
211 Information Services
212 Administration
213 Inspection
214 Human Resources
215 Licensing
216 Other


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Additional Questions
(An optional custom feature)

  Although the Survey gathers data about a variety of issues that impact organizational functioning, some organizations find it valuable to include additional questions that address issues unique to the organization. Employee perceptions about recent organizational changes or other initiatives are often elicited through custom designed questions. These questions are included on the organization’s insert.  Examples of items used by other other organizations are provided.

    The Survey enables organizations to add up to 20 additional questions. These questions provide an opportunity to ask employees about issues that are specific to your organization, such as recent organizational changes, new training initiatives or other unique events. Additional questions are optional. If your organization chooses to include them, please submit the list in an electronic spreadsheet file format such as excel and also in printed form. Once we have formatted the insert, it will be returned to you for proofing.

    Developing additional questions also presents an opportunity to engage persons from different parts of the organization in the survey process. Not only do the questions present an efficient means for the organization to gather information that may be needed by various areas of the organization, when more employees are involved in the survey process the response rate is likely to improve. More employees have an interest in the results because the data will likely be viewed as having a direct impact on their own work.

    The following are some issues to consider when designing survey questions.

1. Be aware that customized questions send a message to employees about what is important to organizational leadership

When considering customized questions keep in mind that the subjects addressed in the questions will communicate to employees a sense of what is important to management. Regardless of how employees respond, these questions can serve to set a particular tone or to communicate organizational priorities.

2. Questions are best phrased positively

For example, a question designed to elicit employees’ perceptions of the impact of cultural diversity training is best written, "Training on cultural diversity is making this organization a better place to work," as opposed to, "Cultural diversity training has not made a difference in this organization."

3. Questions should be applicable to all employees

Each employee should be able to respond to every question. If it is necessary to submit a question that may not apply to all include a "don’t know/ not applicable" response category. A total of six response categories are available. The following are examples of possible response categories:

4.  Use an appropriate scale such as:
        Likert scale
        1. strongly disagree 2. disagree 3. feel neutral 4. agree 5. strongly agree 6. don’t know/not applicable
        Yes/No scale
      1. Yes 2. No
        Frequency scale
   1. 0 times per year 2. 1 to 2 times per year 3. 3 or more times per year

5. Only one issue should be addressed in each survey question.

A survey question written as, "The alternative work schedule policy has improved employee morale and reduced burnout," asks about two issues- the impact on morale and burnout. This question is best divided into two questions to yield the most useful and precise data on how the policy is impacting employees.

The following tables include examples of many questions submitted by organizations participating in the Survey in previous years. The questions are sorted by topic. Please feel free to use these questions as written or modify to meet your organization’s needs.

          Topic Index


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My co-workers work well with me.
I work well with my co-workers.
My co-workers are qualified to do their jobs.


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Communication works well enough that I can find out what is going on.
Overall, I believe that the communication between management and employees has improved over the past two years.
Communications between program areas area sufficient for my work area to carry out our jobs in meeting our agency's mission.
Internal agency communications about human resource issues (e.g., hiring, leave policies, evaluations) have improved.


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Our managers are well trained and demonstrate leadership skills.
Overall, the quality of leadership provided by this organization to its employees has improved.
Overall, the quality of leadership provided by this organization to the residents of Texas has improved.
The program for leadership or quality training has resulted in more effective leadership and quality training in my division.


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I believe the technological changes instituted by the agency have improved my productivity.
I believe that the technological changes instituted by the agency improve the quality of the service to the public.
The agency has taken advantage of new technologies to save resources.


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I have a good understanding of the mission and the goals of this organization.
I understand how my work directly contributes to the overall success of this organization.
My supervisor provides me regular information about the mission and the goals of this organization.
I understand the mission and philosophy of this organization.
I am familiar with the agency's strategic plan and the agency's mission.
I am familiar with the agency's mission and the way it relates to my work group's assignments.
My job is important in accomplishing the mission of the agency.
I understand the mission of my immediate work group.


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I believe that customer service for colleagues is as important to the agency as customer service for clients.
Employees in other work groups provide good customer service to me and my work group.
Services to our customers have improved as a result of the agency's renewed commitment to customer service.
During the past 4 years, the organizational culture has shifted to being more customer oriented.
Services to our customers have improved as a result of the agency's renewed commitment to customer service.
I know who my customers are.
Services to our external customers have improved as a result of the agency's quality initiatives.
Services to our external customers have improved since 1994.
Services to our internal customers have improved since 1994.


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I understand who to contact should I have a question concerning travel.
Travel policies are understandable.
This organization tries hard to make the amount of required travel less burdensome


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When I receive project evaluations, I am not surprised by the content because project managers provide enough feedback during projects.
Employee performance evaluations are fair and appropriate.
The employee performance evaluation helps me improve my job.


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The employee newsletter is a great information source for all divisions in this organization.
The employee newsletter helps me understand how other employees contribute to the success of this organization.

Alternative Work Schedules

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Flextime is a valuable component to my job satisfaction.
The option for flex-time or compressed time has improved agency morale.
The option for flex-time or compressed time has improved my productivity.
The option for flex-time or compressed time has improved my ability to meet personal and/or family needs.

Employee Issues

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The complaint and grievance procedure is fair and equitable to all employees.
All positions to be filled are posted for competitive hires.
I have an opportunity to compete for jobs posted in this agency.


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Each employee is held personally accountable for the quality of work he/she produces.
I would be interested in participating on a "quality improvement team" within my work unit.
Quality service is achieved in a timely manner.
I have attended the agency's total quality management training.
I am satisfied with the quality of service and attention I receive from the home office.
I believe the Continuous Quality Improvement program has had a positive impact on this organization’s programs, products and services.
The agency's training on continuous quality improvement initiative has been helpful in my job.
I believe that the agency's continuous quality improvement initiative is making a positive difference in overall functioning of this organization.
The organizational structure at this agency helps employees provide high quality services to clients.
The management direction at this agency helps employees provide high quality services to clients.
Quality performance is acknowledged and rewarded.
Services to our external customers have improved as a result of the agency's quality initiatives.
Services and interactions within the agency have improved as a result of the agency's quality initiative.
The quality initiative is helping to empower the "rank and file" employees.
I have been trained in the quality initiative as it relates to my everyday work duties in my section/unit.
Workload permitting, I would be interested in participating on a quality team.
Being on a quality team is/was a valuable experience for me.
The program for leadership or quality training has resulted in more effective leadership and quality training in my division.
Existing layers of management are appropriate to ensure quality work.


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Teamwork is encouraged and practiced by my supervisor.
My supervisor provides me regular information about the mission and the goals of this organization.
My supervisor works with me to help me plan for possible advancement opportunities.
I can disagree with my supervisor without fear of getting in trouble.
My supervisor treats his/her employees fairly.
My supervisor does a good job of resolving employee grievances once they are brought to his or her attention.
My supervisor is helpful when I have a question regarding my work.
My supervisor gives me recognition when I do a good job.
I receive constructive feedback from my supervisor.
The agency's policies for promotion to supervisory positions are fair.
We respect our managers as competent professionals.
My supervisor pays attention to what I'm saying.
My supervisor is doing a good job.

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