How does the survey work?

Cooperation with FFAW

We, the Freiburg Research Centre for Occupational Sciences (FFAW), offer you the survey with the COPSOQ as follows:

1. Together with you or with the working group of your company, details of the company and employee structure (e.g. organisational units, occupational groups) are defined. The FFAW then activates the online version of the website and provides access for employees (either generic or individual login). For the paper version, we will send you questionnaires and postage-paid return envelopes.
2. You or your company inform the employees about the survey and advertise for participation (e.g. information on time period, web address, distribution of questionnaires, purpose of the survey).
3. The employees fill in the questionnaire and send it anonymously to the FFAW. The survey period is typically 4 weeks. Usually, employees are reminded about one week before the end of the survey. If necessary, the activation of the website or the deadline for returning paper forms will be extended.
4. FFAW evaluates the data received at overall and group level. No statements are made for groups with less than 5 persons. For statistical reasons and to preserve anonymity, a larger but not a smaller minimum number of cases can be agreed upon.
5. The values of the company are compared with values from the COPSOQ reference database. Conversely, the data of your employees are included in the database in an anonymised form.
6. We report the results within four weeks after the end of the survey. The external comparison of your company's results with the values from the database and the internal group comparison show the strengths and weaknesses (hazards) of your company.
7. Based on the results of the survey, you decide on the next steps (e.g. discussion of the results, development and implementation of improvement measures). If necessary, we will support you by finding competent cooperation partners.


Checklist for conducting the survey

The aim of the COPSOQ survey is to collect reliable data on mental stress in the workplace.

In order to make the use of this high-quality measurement instrument as profitable as possible, it is important to maximise the motivation to participate in the survey: the higher the percentage of participating employees, the greater the significance of the results. On the other hand, the expectations of the company associated with the survey must be clarified: for this purpose, an internal committee should be constituted before the survey, which accompanies and controls the survey and the subsequent processes as a project team.

You can use our checklist to check whether you have already tackled all the important points.

You can also download the checklistie.

# What? When? Done?
1. Obtain consent from management and works council / staff council before start Yes No
2. Information or involvement of the company doctor, qualifica-tion officer, occupational safety specialist and possibly other important company departments before start Yes No
3. Clarification of participation possibilities / conditions with FFAW before start Yes No
4. Form a project team: Involve all groups, especially employees and management! Define and document goals (What do we want to achieve with the survey?)
before start Yes No
5. Determine timetable, coordinate with FFAW, ensure data protection before start Yes No
6. Definition of participating organisational units / groups, employees / number(s) of cases
before start Yes No
7. Online version: Construction of the website, Paper version: Order materials (number of pieces!) from FFAW before start Yes No
8. Advertising (e.g. posters, notices, flyers, advertising at staff meetings, in the company newspaper, on the intranet) before or at start Yes No
9. Write and copy promotional material for participation (template available from FFAW), if necessary display and enclose with questionnaire.
before start Yes No
10. Online version: e-mail with link and password to employees, activation of online questionnaire; paper version: distribution of questionnaire, documentation of number of question-naires distributed sheets = start Yes No
11. Reminder (have more questionnaires ready if necessary), documentation of the number of questionnaires handed out 2-4 weeks after start Yes No
12. Clarify in the project team whether external support for improvement actions should be involved (contacts and information via FFAW) at the latest when the results are submitted
Yes No
13. Clarification of how to deal with results: who should receive which results and when? in any case before submission results
Yes No
14. Discussion of the results in the project team and derivation of need for action when the results are available Yes No
15. Communication of results to employees (works meeting, notice board, company newspaper, intranet), discussion on need for action, feasibility, procedure after the results are available Yes No
16. Implementation (kick off) and documentation of any improvement actions decided upon.
after discussing the results Yes No
17. Review success, 2nd round COPSOQ (evaluation of introduced improvement actions)
approx. 1-2 years later, after introduction of actions Yes No
18. Clarify whether surveys should be carried out regularly ("Learning organisation", "Continuous improvement pro-cess") after 1st or after 2nd round COPSOQ Yes No

How do we manage data?

Data protection agreement according to DSGVO

Of course, we comply with the legal requirements of the European Data Protection Regulation (DSGVO). The aim of a survey with the COPSOQ is to collect psychosocial work factors in a company. We never ask for names, addresses, telephone numbers or other personal data. Before the survey begins, we conclude a data protection agreement (DS agreement) with each company in order to

  • describe and make our work methods transparent (for example, how we ensure the anonymity of information),
  • conduct the survey within a secure legal framework for all participants (us, the company, the respondents) and
  • describe our technical and organizational measures (TOM) for data security.

Responsible Persons

The execution of the survey and the evaluation of the data are carried out by the Freiburg Research Centre for Occupational Sciences – FFAW GmbH. The FFAW has extensive experience in empirical research ( Responsible for carrying out the survey is the managing director:

Freiburg Research Centre for Occupational Sciences GmbH – FFAW GmbH
Dr. Matthias Nübling, Dr. Hans-Joachim Lincke
Bertoldstr. 63
D-79098 Freiburg
Tel. +49 761 / 319 642 0


The FFAW has a Data Protection Officer (DPO) whom you can contact at any time:

DaSchuWi GmbH
Dipl. Inform. Werner Hülsmann
Münchener Str. 101
D-85737 Ismaning
Tel.: +49 89 / 51 30 569 7

Access to the Questionnaire

Participation in the survey is always voluntary. Before filling out the questionnaire, the consent of each person is obtained to participate in the survey. In the paper version, the completed questionnaire is sent anonymously to FFAW by each participating person in an envelope provided, postage paid. In the online version, FFAW activates a secure link to the questionnaire for the specified survey period as well as access to the questionnaire via an agreed access code.

Option 1: Generic Access

The FFAW generates a general access code which is identical for all persons invited to participate in the survey. The company forwards this code to all employees.

Option 2: Person-specific Access

The FFAW generates an individual access code for each person invited to participate in the survey. This password is then sent by the FFAW to the individual employees based on an e-mail list compiled by the company. This list is sent from the company to the FFAW via an encrypted upload link.

As a rule, the FFAW sends out the individual access code at the start of the survey and as a reminder shortly before the end of the questioning period. The assignment of E-mail address, access code and information pertaining to the psychological stressors serves no other purpose than ensuring the one-time participation in the survey. The list of e-mail addresses will be destroyed immediately after the end of the survey.

Option 3: Access by Random Assignment

Die FFAW generiert nicht-personenbezogene Zugangscodes nach Anzahl der zur Teilnahme aufgeforderten Personen. Diese Codes werden auf einzelne Papierbogen gedruckt und in unbedruckte Briefumschläge verpackt. Die Umschläge werden verschlossen und dem Betrieb zugeschickt. Dort werden die Umschläge mit den darin enthaltenen Codes nach dem Zufallsprinzip an die Mitarbeiter:innen verteilt. In this way, there is no way to link people and their details via the access codes.


Participation in the online survey is possible from any computer with internet access. The questionnaire is available on a specially created (sub) domain of the COPSOQ main page. This website cannot (!) be found with search engines!

The electronic transmission of data to the FFAW takes place via a secure (https://), state-of-the-art connection. No transmission data such as IP address or browser version is stored. Only the date and time at the beginning and end of the session are stored anonymously to determine the average time of completion. If person specific access data are assigned (see above) and an invitation to participate is made by email, the allocation of access data and survey information is solely for the purpose of checking the one-time participation in the survey of per person. The e-mail addresses and information are not stored together. At the end of the survey, the e-mail addresses are destroyed immediately.

If a person completes the online questionnaire, an individual stress profile is created from their responses and displayed (direct feedback). The option to view, print or save the feedback is only available at this time and only for this person until the window is closed. The technical data necessary in order to recreate the direct feedback is stored in a container. After leaving the displayed results and closing the browser, all of the technical data necessary for the session is erased after a maximum of 10 minutes. The same applies if the questionnaire is inactive for more than 60 minutes.

In the case of the paper version, the completed questionnaires are sent anonymously in a stamped return envelope to the FFAW, where they are then analysed.

Data Security

For security reasons, you will not find detailed information on our technical-organisational measures (TOM) here. You will receive these on request or when carrying out a survey project in our data protection agreement.

For both versions of the survey (online und paper), only employees of the FFAW who are obliged to comply with data drotection regulations have access to the collected data. The online-database is secured through an automated backup during the survey period. The transmission of the data for evaluation by the FFAW takes place over a secure, state of the art connection. There the data is stored separately for each company and encrypted according to the security guidelines of the FFAW. With the paper version, the returned questionnaires are recorded and subsequently destroyed in compliance with data protection laws.


At the latest four weeks after the end of the survey, the results for the entire company and its sub-units (e.g. departments, divisions, units) are presented. The results report for the company contains the mean values for all psychosocial aspects of the work situation covered by the COPSOQ. Results are only calculated and presented for groups of a minimum size (at least 5 persons, more if desired) determined before the start of the survey. This means that no conclusions can be drawn about individual persons.

The evaluation of data is therefore always anonymous. If the defined minimum size is not reached in a sub-unit, no result is shown for this sub-unit. However, if desired, the unit can be combined with one or more other units to reach the agreed minimum size.

The information on psychosocial workloads collected in the survey is entered into the COPSOQ database, separating out company-specific information (name of the company, organisational unit, focus of activity). The anonymised data of more than 630,000 respondents are used, among other things, to determine occupational group-specific stress profiles. All analyses and the presentation of results from the COPSOQ database are also carried out exclusively on the basis of groups. It is therefore not possible to draw conclusions about individual persons or companies.