Don’t you wonder from time to time what your employees are thinking? Are they wondering about your leadership style, your compensation and benefits package? Are they happy in their current positions?
When I owned our business, I tried to do surveys to determine what the employees were feeling and if they had suggestions for how we could improve. We almost always learned more than expected – about the employees and ourselves. Our surveys were pretty unsophisticated. Today there are many more professional resources available.
Over two-thirds of the larger companies in the U.S. survey their employees in order to gauge satisfaction, help in recruiting new employees and structure internal policies. When done well, surveys tell employees that their input and concerns are important. They help create a higher sense of morale and a stronger sense of loyalty. Surveys also provide owners and managers with important information for mapping their company’s future.
Employee Survey Benefits
Some key benefits of surveys include:
- Demonstrating to employees that management is taking an interest in them, their views and their ideas.
- Identifying strengths and weaknesses in management performance and organizational policies and procedures that will improve operational efficiency and reduce costs – as well as improve employee satisfaction.
- Improving employee retention, which will in turn reduce costs of recruiting, training and replacement.
- Improving the ability of employees to achieve a better balance between their work and home lives.
- Determining key contributors and barriers to delivering excellent customer service and soliciting improvement ideas from employees who deal with customers on a daily basis.
- Determining issues that may arise from changes in current policies and procedures so they can be managed in a proactive rather than reactive way.
- Helping owners and managers get key employee issues and concerns out in the open. Disgruntled employees can affect a company’s bottom line. Employee insights into the workplace can help companies identify and deal with issues of satisfaction, thereby ensuring harmony, high productivity and increased sales.
Several types of surveys include:
- Employee Satisfaction Surveys: These deal with workplace issues – such as compensation and benefits, effective communication, reaction to changes, leadership styles, etc. The data from these surveys helps paint a portrait of employee attitudes and opinions. These surveys can be useful in tough economic times. They also help employers isolate the root causes of persistent problems such as low productivity or high expenses.
- Exit Surveys: We used these to get more honest responses from people who were leaving the company. Data from exit surveys can be used to create procedures to increase job satisfaction and lower costly turnover.
- Customer Care Surveys: No one knows customer needs better than those in direct contact with them – your sales team. Thus, it makes sense to survey these employees to improve customer service.
- Surveys on Specific Issues: If you’re thinking about making a significant change (benefits, new products or services, location, etc.) a survey will give you the employees’ view, which can help you determine interest.
Here are tips for effective surveys:
- Advertise the Survey. To ensure success, it’s important to let employees know about the survey in advance. This can be done verbally, via e-mail, posting on bulletin boards or making it part of a staff meeting.
- Provide Anonymity. This is imperative. If employee identities are tied to their responses, they may feel threatened, especially if their opinions differ from management thinking.
- Clearly State the Purpose. This will make employees are more likely to buy into the survey. Additionally, owners/managers must be committed to taking action based on the survey results. If employees can see that their opinions drive change, they’re more likely to participate enthusiastically in future surveys.
- Share the Results. When you share the results, you’ll see the responses increase. You don’t need to share 100% of the survey results, but a summary covering the most important findings will demonstrate openness, particularly if they lead to some type of action.
- Give Employees Time to Respond. You might want to indicate that they can complete the survey on company time. Some companies have found that a small incentive for turning in their surveys also helps improve the response rate.