How’s it going?

More precisely, how do your employees think it’s going? Are they enthusiastic and motivated? Do they embrace your organization’s mission? Do they have ideas that could improve your operations?

A well-designed employee survey can do much more than measure employee satisfaction. It can help you pinpoint issues, spot trends, and find ways to improve.

What to Survey

Employee surveys will vary, depending upon the organization and goals, but normally they gather data in four main areas:

  • Safety
  • Communication
  • Relationship with management
  • Job satisfaction

If a survey is triggered by an issue, such as complaints about training or exit interviews that highlight issues with managers, your survey might do a deeper dive into those specific areas.

How to Survey

Surveys can be conducted by the HR team or someone else internally, but having an outside firm conduct the survey often leads to better results.

  • In-house surveys may reflect a tendency to protect certain people or not to ask certain questions. An outside firm is more likely to ask the questions that need to be asked.
  • Also, employees are much more apt to speak to an outsider than someone they see in the hall or go to lunch with or work with. They’re often more willing to divulge information about their experiences.

For added insights, some organizations will conduct focus groups after the survey, to gain further information and to ask more pointed questions. Again, this will likely yield more helpful, actionable information if conducted by an outside expert.

Regardless of who conducts the survey, ensuring responses are anonymous is the only way to get honest, open responses. Employees shouldn’t be influenced in any way and should feel free to express their opinions. People will not be truthful if they feel their answers can come back to haunt them.

To avoid survey fatigue, generate more meaningful results, and get engaged, honest answers, an employee survey should have no more than 15 questions, with no more than three open ended. A good breakdown is to include up to five questions about demographics (e.g., gender, age, tenure with organization, etc.), followed by another 10-15 actual survey questions.

One more caveat: Don’t include questions that will spotlight problems the organization isn’t willing or able to solve. That will only lead to employee frustration.

When to Survey

For most organizations, a survey of the entire staff should be conducted every two to three years. An exception is if a company is noticing new issues or facing new challenges, in which case a survey can pinpoint both the issues and possible solutions.

Another trigger for conducting a survey is if something such as operations or training has changed significantly. If you’ve just added a new division or upgraded your training process, survey employees a few months after those significant changes.

How to Analyze the Results

First, management should never do a survey if they won’t be open to hearing what employees say, and if they’re not willing to make changes.

The worst thing an organization can do is to ask people what they think and not do anything about it. Management should take action and be transparent with employees about the process—what they’re doing, why they’re doing it—and answer any employee questions. There should be a lot of transparency.

Management doesn’t have to follow every recommendation, but they have to take some action that responds to what the majority of employees are saying and feeling.

Identifying the Issue and the Solution

Recently, the Lindenberger Group conducted a survey that uncovered how the HR department was showing favoritism by inconsistently applying policies. Had the HR department conducted the survey, the issue would have never come up. Management was surprised to discover the unprofessional behavior, and they used the information to make significant course corrections. A follow-up survey revealed that management’s awareness and willingness to act boosted morale.

The Lindenberger Group has helped organizations in virtually every industry conduct and analyze the employee surveys tailored to their organizations and employees. For more information or to discuss your HR needs, please contact us at 609-730-1049 or send us an email.