Skip to content
What to Know About Data Response Scales When Changing Survey Providers

What to Know About Data Response Scales When Changing Survey Providers

As you do your market research and prepare to change listening providers, there are a number of factors to consider. Switching to an enterprise-class vendor like Perceptyx may necessitate a degree of change management to prepare your organization for this shift, but proper preparation can ensure that the transition not only enables your organization to elevate its employee listening strategy but also allows for the continued use of prior data and analysis.

Comparing Different Scales Used to Measure Employee Sentiment

First and foremost, take note of any potential differences in response scale. Accounting for a potential change in scale is critical to ensuring that any survey trends — comparisons from one survey iteration to the next — remain valid and are able to be tracked. Having a clearly defined strategy for managing through a difference in response scales will also ensure that the organization is well supported in managing through the change.

Here are some of the response scales most commonly used by organizations that have transitioned to Perceptyx. 

5-point Likert Scale

Perceptyx uses a 5-point Likert scale, which is an industry standard in employee measurement and most commonly used among survey providers. Survey items on this scale are scored by aggregating the percentage of favorable responses — Agree + Strongly Agree. This favorability score is used to assess trends across survey iterations and for benchmarking against employee populations at other organizations. 

One unique feature of this scale is that it allows respondents to select a “neutral option” when they “neither agree nor disagree” with a response.


6-point Agreement Scale

Similar to the above, this scale calculates percent favorable responses by aggregating Agree + Strongly agree responses. Unlike the 5-point scale detailed above, this scale does not have a “neutral” or “neither agree nor disagree” option. Instead, this response scale forces respondents to either “slightly agree” or “slightly disagree” with a given item. This scale typically results in lower scores when compared to the 5-point Likert scale given that those who “slightly agree” are not counted within the favorability scores, and because there are six selection options, as opposed to five in the Likert scale used by Perceptyx. 

Because of these variations, in situations where survey items are similar between these two scales, we may expect to see a modest increase in scores when transitioning to Perceptyx’s Likert scale.

5-point “Tend-to-Agree” Scale

This scale removes the “strongly agree” response option and replaces it with a “tend-to-agree” option. Unlike the prior two scales, percent favorable scores (which are used for benchmarking and trending purposes) are calculated by aggregating “tend-to-agree” and “agree” responses, as opposed to “strongly agree” and “agree.” In short, the main difference between this scale and the two noted above is that the “strongly agree” response option is replaced with a lower threshold, “tend-to-agree” option. 

Perceptions of employees who “tend to agree” generally don’t elicit the same behavior or positive outcomes when compared to those who “strongly agree.” Consequently, the approach is less predictive of high performance when compared to the other scales listed above. The implication of this approach is that lower-performing teams are more likely to have inflated scores, given the lower threshold of favorability (since they only have to “tend to agree” vs. “strongly agree”) with a given item. This approach also makes it less likely that meaningful variability will exist across results, given that lower-performing teams are more likely to score high. The same can be said for four-point scales or other scales where a “strongly agree” option is not available. 

Where survey items are similar between the two scales referenced, we may expect to see a modest decline in scores when transitioning to Perceptyx, given the higher threshold of favorability associated with the Likert scale. 

Transitioning From a Survey Provider That Uses the Same Scale 

When transitioning to Perceptyx from a legacy survey vendor that uses the 5-point Likert scale, customers, in most instances, will have the ability to carry over questions from their previous survey by comparing them to similarly worded items in Perceptyx’s normative database that includes more than 17 million employee respondents across nearly 600 unique survey items. This approach will support trending when and where possible, while also ensuring that robust benchmarking coverage exists to support your organization in the future. 

Transitioning from a Survey Provider That Uses Different Scales

 Customers that have successfully transitioned to Perceptyx from vendors using alternate measurement scales will often keep a select number of legacy questions from their prior vendor in their initial survey with Perceptyx. This approach typically allows for valid and accurate trending between administrations and is often used to gauge progress on a historical or legacy engagement measure or another key area of focus. 

Perceptyx generally recommends retaining only a small number of these items, with the bulk of the focus being directed at items that benchmark to the Perceptyx database and therefore will support a new baseline going forward. 

Other Factors to Consider When Changing Survey Providers

Besides the scale utilized by the vendor, an organization should also account for these other factors when making a determination about a survey provider. 

Consider the Methodology Used to Measure and Act on Engagement

The Perceptyx engagement model is strongly linked to driving sustained levels of performance and is predictive of organizational success. As such, it is a highly recommended addition for organizations transitioning their surveys to Perceptyx.

 In cases where Perceptyx has replicated a legacy engagement measure from a prior vendor, our best practice is typically to introduce the Perceptyx engagement model in parallel. This ensures that the insights provided and the results delivered are actionable and predictive of organizational performance. 

Leverage the Full Power of the Driver Analysis

Perceptyx uses a methodology called “Positive Divergence Analysis” to identify the drivers of engagement across work groups or demographic groups with at least 25 respondents. By studying their work experiences, the perceptions of the most highly engaged employees can be compared to those of less engaged employees, allowing leaders to pinpoint areas where additional focus and actions will drive higher levels of engagement. 

We calculate this by:

  1. Identifying the most highly engaged employees and comparing them to everyone else. High engagement is defined as those who responded favorably (“Strongly agree” or “Agree”) to all items within the engagement index. Those who did not respond favorably to all four items are defined as the “remainder” group.
  2. Percent favorable scores are calculated for each of the actionable survey items, for both the highly engaged and remainder groups.
  3. The difference in percent favorable scores between the two groups is calculated. Items that show the largest gap between the two groups represent the drivers of engagement and are the areas where additional action and attention will be most warranted.  

While this approach is most often used to identify focus areas in support of driving higher levels of engagement, it can be leveraged to better understand what survey items or actions are most likely to influence other elements of the survey by taking the same approach as highlighted above. (For example, to identify drivers of well-being, growth and development, employee retention, and so forth). 

Using the Perceptyx engagement methodology, whether as a standalone model or in parallel to a legacy engagement measure, will help to ensure a successful transition that not only provides a validated measure of engagement but also directs leaders on where best to focus their attention. 

Perceptyx Shows You the Future of Listening for Your Organization

The approaches highlighted above will help to both elevate and enable continuity of your survey program while ensuring that your organization can fully benefit from Perceptyx’s robust benchmarks, world-class technology, and expert-driven advice.

Regardless of the data model that’s right for you, Perceptyx can support your organization through the transition from a legacy survey provider. To learn more about how we can help, schedule a meeting with a member of our team.

Subscribe to our blog

Opt-in for our weekly recap and never miss a post.

People Insights Platform

Drive Change, Deliver Impact


Employee surveys to illuminate the employee experience

Learn more about Ask product


Crowdsourced insights to engage your people on the topics that matter most

Learn more about Dialogue product


Lifecycle surveys and always-on listening to keep pace with your people

Learn more about Sense product


360 feedback and Intelligent Coaching to improve manager effectiveness

Learn more about Cultivate product

Getting started is easy

Advance from data to insights to focused action