Why does Winningtemp use an emoji scale?

Miroslav Valan
June 23, 2022
Why does Winningtemp use an emoji scale?

One of the most common questions we’re asked is why we use an emoji scale to gather employee feedback. We get it. We know emojis might initially feel a little juvenile or lightweight. Perhaps like they’re prioritising style over substance.

But our use of emojis isn’t a style decision. It’s an important practical decision — and a big reason Winningtemp is so effective. Let’s unpack that.

Participation is the first hurdle for employee surveys

Employee surveys are extremely powerful. Gathering employee feedback in a systematic way empowers you to spot and solve issues that impact your people, to improve their experience at work. Done right, employee surveys increase engagement, productivity, retention, and profitability. (Also read "Why conduct employee surveys?")

But here’s the thing. Employee surveys aren’t magically effective just because you send them out.

For example, if you discover 61% of your workforce are frustrated with their managers but then do nothing, the whole exercise was pointless.

And likewise, if 61% are frustrated with their managers but only 7% of your workforce took the survey, you don’t have enough information to know what to do next. Investing in retraining managers, for example, could be the trifecta of bad: costly, time-consuming, and ineffective. And you don’t have any clue how the other 93% of your workforce feel, so you’re in the dark about which issues impact them.

The point is, participation is the first hurdle for a successful employee survey. It’s not the only hurdle but it’s the first. That means surveys must offer a great user experience—one that’s fast, seamless, and engaging. That’s why every decision Winningtemp has made about our employee experience platform puts the user experience first. Which brings us back to emojis...

Making the case for emojis

Our employee experience platform issues pulse surveys (micro-surveys with 1-5 questions, tailored around your key priorities right now) using a four-point emoji scale. Like this:

You might have seen smiley face kiosks in airports, department stores and so on, or hitting your inbox after practically any customer service interaction. Visual scales like emojis are fast becoming best practice for gathering short, immediate feedback.

Why? For five very good reasons.

1. Emojis are language independent

Emojis are language independent, so they’re more universally understood than text-based scales. This means they’re inclusive, irrespective of people’s first language or culture. Emojis also make your life easier when analysing results, because they allow global comparison without translation or introducing semantic nuance that might sway results.

2. Emojis are intuitive

Using a pictorial scale like emojis eliminates the need to translate feelings into words. This allows for faster completion times and reduces the potential for misunderstanding, making the process more accessible, more universal, more engaging, and more inclusive.

Non-verbal scales like emojis allow us to measure emotions more directly.

3. Emojis give a better experience

There’s loads of research showing visual scales are a better experience for respondents than text-based scales. Visual scales increase motivation, focus attention, create interest, and are overall less demanding and easier to understand.

Pulse surveys are so-called because they ‘pulse’ — short, sharp, little, often. If your people find them difficult, slow, frustrating, or boring, they’ll quickly stop engaging. And your effectiveness will flatline.

4. Emojis lead to higher future participation

Pulse surveys are effective precisely because of this ‘pulse’. They empower you to continuously administer the same questions to different groups, to track meaningful change over time. This only works if people are willing to participate over time. In other words, it’s not just participation in a single survey that’s important but participation over time in an ongoing pulse survey mechanism.

Emojis are great for this, because each incidence has such a low overall cost of participation and offers an excellent user experience.

For example, a long annual survey might get high participation because it’s the first survey you’ve done and there’s novelty factor. But will the same people take part next time? And moreover, when you only survey annually, can you guarantee that your employees will even be able to remember what has happened over the last 12 months?

5. Emojis are psychometrically robust

Emojis might feel simple — that’s the whole point — but simplicity can’t come at the cost of scientific rigour. Our decision to use emojis is based on science. Our scientists and data scientists continuously conduct rigorous research to ensure this is the right call from a psychometric perspective too.

The upshot is, emojis are as good or better than commonly used scales as a psychometric tool (🎉) proving you can collect complex, nuanced people data in a simple visual way.

Simple enough to solve your most complex people challenges

Our emoji scale captures the essence of Winningtemp: simple, engaging technology that your people love. But don’t be fooled. Our AI-based platform was built based on more than 600 scientific studies and is backed by an in-house team of data scientists, so it’s both comprehensive and rigorous too.

Book a short demo for a walkthrough of the Winningtemp platform, to see how we make it easy to deliver better employee surveys.

Miroslav is a Senior Data Scientist at Winningtemp. He has two PhDs, including one in artificial intelligence from Stockholm University. He has eight years of experience in academia - during which his research was funded by some of the most prestigious fellowships available, including the Marie-Sklodowska Currie Fellowship - as well as seven years in industry, where he has developed award-winning AI and ML solutions.

About the author
Miroslav Valan

Focusing on people

If you are interested in finding out more about what Winningtemp can offer your organisation get in contact with our sales team.