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Employee Surveys

The Importance of Employee Feedback

Over two thirds of U.S. Companies survey their employees to gauge satisfaction, recruit top prospects, and create internal policies. When done well surveys tell employees that their input and concerns are important, creating a higher sense of moral and a stronger sense of loyalty. Surveys also provide employers with important information for mapping their companies future.

Types of Surveys

Dissatisfied customers and disgruntled employees can both affect a companys 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. The type of employee survey to use depends on a companys individual needs. The following are a few types of employee surveys:

Employee Satisfaction Surveys

The most common purpose for surveying employees is satisfaction. Employee satisfaction surveys deal with workplace issues, such as benefits, commitment to diversity, and effective communications. The data from these surveys helps paint a portrait of employee attitudes and opinions. These kinds of surveys are particularly useful after a company has undergone some sort of change, such as a layoff, an acquisition, or a new department head. They also help employers isolate the root causes of persistent problems, such as low productivity or high expenses.

Exit Surveys

Another way to gauge employee attitudes is through exit surveys. Written exit surveys have been shown to help elicit more honest responses from people who are leaving their jobs than exit interviews, which lend themselves to unrealistic and overly rosy scenarios. The data from exit surveys can be used to create policies and procedures designed to help increase job satisfaction and lower costly turnover.

Customer Care Surveys

No one knows customers needs like those who are in direct contact with them, so many companies survey their employees opinions on customer care. A well-designed customer care survey can help companies improve areas where service may be lacking, thereby increasing customer satisfaction.

Surveys on Specific Issues

When companies wish to float specific changes or proposals, such as new insurance providers or changes in the workweek, they often survey employees opinions to determine their levels of acceptance or resistance. Surveys allow employees an opportunity to offer input and employers an opportunity to review and refine changes before implementation.

Elements of Effective Surveys

Advertise the Survey

To ensure a surveys success, it is extremely important to let employees know about it well ahead of time. There are a number of things an employer can do to alert employees of an upcoming survey, including announcements via email, bulletin board and company newsletter. Response rates can be closely linked to the number of times an upcoming survey is announced.

Provide Anonymity

It is absolutely imperative that employers preserve anonymity when conducting employee surveys. If employees identities are tied to their responses, they may feel threatened, especially if their opinions differ from the company line. As a consequence, they may choose not to participate, or their responses may not reflect their true opinions. To guarantee anonymity, employers should avoid demographic questions that deal with age, race, or position. Employees may feel that such information makes it too easy to identify respondents.

Show a Clear Objective and Commitment

Employers should also establish a clear objective for a survey. Employees are more likely to buy into the surveys purpose when it is clearly articulated. Moreover, employers should make clear that they are committed to taking action based on the surveys results. If employees can see that their opinions drive change, they are more likely to participate enthusiastically in future surveys.

Share Results

Response rates increase when employers offer to share the results of a survey. While it is not necessary to give employees a complete copy of the results, a summary covering the most important findings will demonstrate openness, particularly if they lead to some sort of action. Conversely, not acting on survey results may negatively affect the response rates of future surveys.

Give Employees Time to Respond

Nothing increases response rates more than allowing employees time to fill out a survey. On the other hand, if employees are required to fill out surveys on their own time, response rates will almost certainly suffer.

The effect of small incentives on response rates cannot be overstated. Companies commonly offer items, such as coffee mugs, t-shirts, movie passes, or coupons in exchange for employee participation.

Things to Avoid

Avoid too many open-ended questions. Respondents tend to get bored or tired when asked to do too much writing. In addition, those with negative opinions are more likely to respond than those with positive opinions, thus skewing the results.

Dont make the survey too long. A good survey will take less than twenty minutes to complete and ask no more than seventy closed-ended questions and a few open-ended questions.

Eliminate all double-barreled questions. Respondents may agree with one part of the question and disagree with the other. Instead, focus each question on a single topic

The Bottom Line

When designed properly, conducted regularly, and acted upon promptly, employee surveys are an effective means of gauging the state of a company while ensuring employee loyalty and productivity. By conducting surveys, employers show they care about employees opinions, and high participation is an indicator that employees are interested in sharing their views. A good survey can bring management and staff together, helping them focus on the task of moving a company forward.

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