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Ask Experience, Not Issue-Based Questions to Capture Workers’ Reality + Understand Underlying Risks

After nearly a decade of conducting surveys and Labor Solutions has still never closed a survey without reaching a statistically relevant sample size. People often ask what the Labor Solutions’ difference is.

Our difference is in the details and ultimately it is how we design our tools and services for every stakeholder’s needs. The needs of each stakeholder are considered, not only in the design process but also in the support Labor Solutions provides. Critical to our survey’s success are the types of questions we ask.

Experience vs. Fact Based Questions in Worker Surveys

While WOVO allows for fully customizable questions, we recommend using experience-based questions to get the best results. Fact-based questions and issue-based questions can be useful for getting some information, but they do not provide the full picture. Instead, we recommend asking experience-based questions that allow workers to share their feelings and experiences.

Consider these two questions:


What we Learn


​Do you feel safe at work?

​This experience-based question:

•Allows the worker to feel at ease – there is no right or wrong answer to how you “feel”

Engages suppliers who are also interested

Captures all safety aspects

Helps uncover, unknown issues

Instead of

​Is there a fire extinguisher?

This issue-based question:

•Puts pressure on the worker + makes them feel like there is a right answer

•The supplier already knows the answer to this question.

•By asking this question suppliers think you don’t trust them + are more likely to coach workers

•The question only assesses one safety issue

Why Experience-Based Questions Tell You More

Allows workers to feel at ease - There is no right or wrong answer to an experience-based question, so workers can feel comfortable sharing their true thoughts and feelings. This can lead to more honest and open feedback.

Engages direct employers (suppliers) – Suppliers are more likely to be interested in providing feedback when they feel like it is not just fact-finding but also interested in listening to their workers’ opinions. Experience-based questions show that you are truly interested in hearing about experiences, not just getting a checklist of facts.

Captures things that haven’t happened. Fact-based questions can only assess specific safety issues. Experience-based questions allow workers to share their thoughts on all aspects of safety, from the physical environment to the work culture.

Uncovers unknown issues - Workers may not always be aware of the safety risks in their workplace. Experience-based questions can help them to identify and raise concerns about potential hazards.

Limit Use of Issue-Based Questions

You cannot build a whole survey just with experience-based questions, of course. So here are some drawbacks to be aware of when asking fact-based or issue-based questions to factory workers -

Puts pressure on workers - Workers may feel like there is a right or wrong answer to a fact-based or issue-based question. This can make them feel uncomfortable and less likely to share their true thoughts.

Employers already know the answer - Employers are often very familiar with the safety standards and procedures in their factories. Asking them fact-based or issue-based questions is not likely to yield new information.

Damage trust - If suppliers feel like you don't trust them to keep their workers safe, they are less likely to be open and honest with you. Asking fact-based or issue-based questions can send the message that you don't trust them.

While collecting feedback from factory workers consider replacing fact-based questions with experience-based questions to get the most honest and open feedback. When writing a survey question, it’s important to first determine the goal and intention of the question. By asking this question what do we hope to discover? Once we ask this question, what can be done with the results?

We often ask questions on a scale from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree. Here are some examples:

​Question Intention/Goal


Holistic understanding of safety

I feel safe at work.

Holistic understanding of workers' experience.

I would recommend this as a place of work to a friend or family member

Understanding of workers' interactions with others and general feeling of fairness

At work, I am treated with fairness and respect

For almost a decade, Labor Solutions has worked closely with complex supply chains to identify and address these complex needs to create an effective and industry-leading survey tool that covers all these bases and more. Learn more about WOVO Engage.


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