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Survey best practice: How to get the most out of your HRIS data


By Cheryl King | March 5, 2020

To help you out, we’ve pulled together four dos and four don'ts to consider as you pre-code your employee data.

Great news! You’ve decided to use HRIS data to pre-code your next survey. There are lots of benefits to this approach. To ensure you can segment your survey results in a meaningful way, we’ve pulled together a few dos and don’ts to consider as you pre-code your employee data.


  1. Do include all employees in your HRIS file, even if they don’t have a company email address. If you use Willis Towers Watson Employee Engagement Software to administer your survey, respondents can use their employee ID or single sign-on to access the survey. Employees can’t be added once the survey is live, so make sure all eligible employees are included in the file, including your CEO. Depending on the survey you are running, you can select and invite participants from specific departments, levels, locations, or any other variable.
  2. Do review your HRIS data for consistency and accuracy. For example, if the same function is sometimes listed as "Admin" and other times as "Administration", consolidate these terms to allow for company-wide analysis of this function. Remember, the labels you provide will be used in your reports, so they should be concise and easily understood.
  3. Do make sure your stakeholders understand how data in your HRIS file will translate into the organization hierarchy. The organizational hierarchy is one of the most common way of creating reports. There are two ways to create a hierarchy: 1) based on line manager relationships; and, 2) based on departments, teams or locations. If you are doing this for the first time, it’s a good idea to circulate a copy of the constructed hierarchy after the HRIS file has been uploaded to ensure your stakeholders agree on the proposed structure for reporting.
  4. Do review the display order for your reports. When values in the HRIS file are displayed in reports, they appear in alphabetical order by default. But, in some cases you may want to make changes, as shown in the following example. The order can be changed directly in Willis Towers Watson Employee Engagement Software, so there’s no need for manual work in your HRIS file.
# Default alphabetical order Recommended order
1 Assistant team leader Employee
2 Director Assistant team leader
3 Employee Team leader
4 Manager Manager
5 Team leader Director


  1. Don’t extract your HRIS data too late. Your employee population changes constantly. We recommend extracting data a few weeks before the launch of your survey to ensure it’s as current as possible, and to give yourself the time you need to conduct appropriate quality checks.
  2. Don’t be scared to include a wide range of demographics in your HRIS file. For example, you may want to consider using full-time/part-time, shift, role or performance rating. You can always choose not to add demographic segments and views to your reports. However, it’s harder to add a new demographic at a later stage.
  3. Don’t alter the format of the Willis Towers Watson HRIS template. There are a huge number of fields you can leverage from the Willis Towers Watson HRIS template. However, if you feel an important HRIS field missing, be sure to let us know. We’re eager to hear your feedback.
  4. Don’t pre-code sensitive personal information. If you would like to analyze results by employee groups such as disability status or sexual orientation, we recommend that you ask your employees to self-report this information in the survey. This is so that you can request their specific consent for this sensitive information to be used in the survey and give them the opportunity to opt-out if they wish.

Sign in to your Willis Towers Watson Employee Engagement Software account today to start building an HRIS-based survey or contact us for a demo.


Client Success Manager
Willis Towers Watson Employee Engagement Software

Cheryl supports our Willis Towers Watson Employee Engagement Software clients, helping them to get the most out of the software. When Cheryl is not working, you’ll probably find her outside of the UK on an impromptu adventure.  Follow Cheryl on LinkedIn.

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