“My boss doesn’t give me feedback on my performance. I have not had a performance review in over two years.”
“Our pay increases last year barely covered the cost of the increase in my insurance premiums. I don’t understand how the company decides how much I should received.”
Are you hearing some of these comments surface in your company? Do you wonder if they are isolated circumstances or if you should be concerned with a growing population of dissatisfied employees? In either case, you may want to consider conducting and Employee Opinion Survey, where you ask your employee’s opinion on cultural, operational and policy related topics. In many surveys, the employees are able to write in comments, which provides information beyond the basic question format. There are some key elements of conducting a survey for you to consider increasing the level of effectiveness.
Management teams often wrestle with survey timing. For example, the company has just gone through a significant employee reduction or just announced a new benefit plan with mixed reaction. Will the results be skewed by these events? Most likely not, employees tend to evaluate the company over the previous year versus in the last month or few days. How often should you conduct a survey? Anywhere from eighteen months to three years.
This is one of the most important considerations to employees taking the survey – will management know what I personally said? There are two ways to protect confidentiality:
- Engage an outside vendor or consultant to administer the survey
- Ensure that only groups of ten or larger are included in reporting group results
The more difficult area of confidentiality is in the employee’s written comments. Inform employees that their comments will be shared with the management team and may not be shared with the broader employee population.
There are a few methodologies for you to consider: in person, by mail or via the Internet. The size of your company and the customization of the survey, i.e. number of questions and reporting requirements, will determine the cost and ease of administration. In general, you will find the Internet option to be generally more cost effective provided your employees have sufficient access.
Length of survey, development of questions and continuity of questions are three areas to focus your time on. You will increase your survey completion rate by targeting for 50 – 80 questions. If you decide on more questions, be aware that fatigue may set in, so your incentive program may play a more important role. In developing your questions, remember to ask only those questions you are prepared to do something about. Some common areas to probe are:
- Building Teamwork
- Managing Your Career
- Competitive Compensation and Benefits
- Effective Communication
- Employee Relations
- Job Satisfaction
- Measuring Performance
- Employee Development
It is advisable to select questions where you want to measure results over several survey cycles. You will be able to develop trend analysis on specific questions and measure if significant company events are affecting your employee’s perceptions over time.
An outside vendor or consultant will be responsible for performing the analysis based on predefined reporting requirements. It is necessary to define the requirements at the start of the project to ensure a well-designed survey that will generate the information you are trying to measure. Some standard reporting requirements include:
- Overall Satisfaction Ratings
- Overall Importance Ratings
- Demographic Satisfaction Ratings
- Years of Service
- Employee Comments
Survey Communication and Incentives
An important part of the program is how the management team communicates the Employee Opinion Survey’s intent to their employees. Consider using small incentives for survey completion to increase participation rate, especially if the survey is administered by mail or via the Internet.
Feedback of Results & Action Planning
Employees who participate in a survey expect to see the results of the survey. The quickest way to build employee trust is to share all the information and tackle the top five areas of concern. The management team should also celebrate their successes by acknowledging where the company has done well or improved over the previous survey.
An Employee Opinion Survey provides a wealth of information based on a point in time in your company. The results can assist you determining where you can make the greatest impact with any changes you are contemplating. It allows you to hone in on what’s important to one of your largest assets, your employees.