The Redesigning Wellness Podcast

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177: The Art and Science of Employee Surveys with Jirs Meuris, Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Creating effective measurement tools is an integral yet sometimes confusing piece of any wellness program. Today’s guest, Jirs Meuris, is back to help demystify the steps to planning and implementing an effective survey.

Jirs is an assistant professor in the Management and Human Resources Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and serves as a faculty affiliate at the Institute for Research on Poverty and the Center for Financial Security. He has conducted research in affiliation with numerous universities, health care companies, finance and transportation industries. Jirs has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and the Washington Post as well as appearing on radio and tv programs including NPR’s Marketplace.

In this episode, Jirs shares some of the biggest mistakes people make when creating surveys, the challenges to maximizing utility, as well as the most effective ways to incentivize surveys. He explains the psychological safety of anonymous surveys, as well as the rapport and trust that must be present to get honest answers on a survey that’s not anonymous. 

Jirs touches on determining survey content and deciding on formatting – both relating back to the overall goal of the survey – and the importance of getting management buy in. Lastly, he discusses his method of implementation including reminders and shares with us his main takeaways for developing effective measurement tools.

This episode is sponsored by Realize Wellbeing. 

Realize Wellbeing is a corporate wellness consulting and training powerhouse on a mission to help companies understand how they’re impacting their own employees’ wellbeing. They are dedicated to transforming workplaces into businesses that exude energy and innovation through their vibrant, thriving people.

Owner, Maggie Gough gets a lot of requests from workplace wellness and HR practitioners who want a fresh perspective on their work and increased capacity for organizational change. In order for Maggie to reach more organizations, she is now offering a brand new Train the Trainer program. 

This 4-week course equips you to bring their innovative strategy to your workplace and also help you expand your efforts beyond health promotion. This course will help you develop new strategies for your company, using the science of self-determination theory and micro-influence. With this new offer, you’ll receive two trainings to deliver to your employees, two fully developed campaigns, a measurement tool, plus four 1:1 coaching sessions with Maggie to support you in implementation.

The April session has limited availability, sign up today! Go to or contact Maggie directly at

Interview Highlights (with timestamps):
  • [7:37] Biggest mistakes people make when creating surveys
  • [14:18] Determining the challenges to maximizing utility
  • [20:58] Incentivizing surveys
  • [24:37] The psychological safety of anonymous surveys
  • [32:16] Determining survey content and deciding on format and wording
  • [39:33] Pretesting the survey
  • [42:45] Getting support and buy-in for the survey
  • [46:36] Implementation and reminders
  • [50:03] Main takeaways
Mentioned in this episode:


Full Bio:

Jirs Meuris is an Assistant Professor of Management and Human Resources and a faculty affiliate at the Institute for Research on Poverty and the Center for Financial Security at the Wisconsin School of Business (University of Wisconsin-Madison). Jirs looks at how work shape people’s personal finances and the resulting consequences for individuals, organizations, and society.

He has conducted this research in collaboration with a variety of organizations including companies in the healthcare, finance, and transportation industries.

Jirs’ work has been published in the Academy of Management Annals, Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Organization Science, and Research in Organizational Behavior. His work has also been featured in numerous media outlets including The Atlantic, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and and been interviewed by television (WTV Live at Four), radio (Marketplace (NPR), WMTJ, Wisconsin Public Radio, WSUM), and print (UW Update magazine) media.

Jirs is regularly invited to speak on financial wellness and other human resource management topics at professional events across the country.

Twitter: @JirsMeuris

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