Employee Satisfaction Surveys

Learning What Your People Think

Responses can nip problems in the bud.

© iStockphoto/kasayizgi

What is the most common force behind positive workplace results such as high productivity, high staff retention, and low absenteeism?

The answer: high workplace satisfaction. Satisfied people tend to work harder. They're motivated to perform well. And they show high levels of commitment to their organizations.

There's an important relationship between employee satisfaction and organizational success, so it's a good idea to discover the level of satisfaction in your workplace – and use that information to your advantage. But how can you do that effectively and efficiently?

It's very time-consuming to talk to every single person about the various factors that contribute to his or her satisfaction, and then compile that information. While you may have a sense of how your people feel about certain satisfaction indicators – such as salary and benefits packages, the level of support and training provided, and the way disputes and problems are managed – it's not necessarily easy to tell if your impressions reflect the views of the majority of your people, or just a those of a vocal minority.

A survey, on the other hand, is a great way of determining overall employee satisfaction. By conducting a survey, you allow your staff to voice concerns and frustrations as well as give positive feedback. From the information you gather, you can then plan to have more meaningful and focused conversations about employee satisfaction. What's more, you can determine whether the current level of satisfaction needs to be maintained or increased – and HOW.

Using Employee Satisfaction Surveys

To get the greatest benefit from employee satisfaction surveys, recognize that you should not do these just one time or once every few years. When the environment changes, people's attitudes also change. Most organizations are motivated to conduct their first survey after a significant change or when they discover a problem with morale or staff retention. But the key to long-term success with these surveys is to follow-up and to monitor satisfaction routinely.

Surveys provide a snapshot of how people are feeling at a specific point in time. Day-to-day interactions change the way that people feel, as do the actions you take to improve the situation. To tell whether things have improved, and whether your actions have been effective, you need to repeat the survey, and you need to keep on taking action and resurveying on an ongoing basis to keep on improving people's levels of satisfaction.

And of course, any time you gather information, you actually have to do something with it. This ensures that you don't waste resources, and it shows your workers that their answers are valuable and will actually be used to make something happen. If you conduct a survey and then don't do anything, you'll just annoy people and encourage cynicism.

Creating Employee Satisfaction Surveys

No two organizations are the same, therefore no two surveys should be the same. You can start with a generic, or general, set of questions, but it's really important to customize the questionnaire to suit your people, your culture, and your expectations.

Typical worker attitude surveys are structured around four key areas:

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