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Monitoring Employee Satisfaction – The Advantages, Considerations and Risks

July 9th, 2009 · 19 Comments

Although there are distinct advantages to conducting regular employee satisfaction surveys online to measuring employee satisfaction – there can also be risks.

Documented here are the main advantages, considerations and the possible risks to conducting employee satisfaction surveys online.

 

Advantages

Identify Problems – Surveys are can be very effective in identify problems areas before they become serious, especially those that are hidden from senior management.

Working Environment – From something small like a broken chair to the more serious problem of sick building syndrome that can result in personnel experiencing headaches; eye, nose, and throat irritation; a dry cough; dry or itchy skin; dizziness and nausea; and difficulty in concentrating. Surveys allow environmental problems to be identified in a measured and controlled manner.

Remuneration & Benefits – Measure and monitor how satisfied personnel are with their remuneration and benefits.

Mood and Moral – Provides a simple but effective method to measure and monitor the mood and moral of an organization.

Benchmark – In the same way that an organization will consider their financial position by comparison with previous years, so the regular use of online surveys will allow an organization to monitor and measure their progress and development in non-financial terms.

Processes & Procedures – As businesses evolve some of the traditional processes and procedures can become antiquated, personnel are often the first to know and the last to be asked. New technology is often a driver that will cause a business to evolve and the business processes need to be constantly challenged to ensure that they are properly aligned with the technology.

Training – Lack of proper training is a common cause of dissatisfaction among employees and can lead to more serious problems such as stress.

Communication – For an organization to run efficiently good internal and external communications are essential, surveys can provide a method to help organizations to monitor and measure how well an organization communicates.

Goals and Objectives – Surveys can measure and monitor the extent that the personnel are aligned with the senior management’s business goals and objectives.

Cost Effective – Using survey questionnaire software surveys are quick and easy to create, simple to deploy and will provide real-time results.

Compliance – To properly comply with an ever increasing array of regulations the modern organization needs to be able to disseminate information throughout the organization and ensure, through records, that the information has been received, and importantly, understood. Online questionnaires can offer an organization a cost effective method to meet many of their obligations.

Keeping the Initiative – It is always better for management to ask than be told. By conducting periodic employee satisfaction surveys the management is able to retain the initiative in trying to identify problems that could otherwise metamorphose into demands.

 

Considerations

Management Backing – A survey that is both sanctioned and has the support of senior management will go some way in ensuring that any action required, based on the survey findings, will be implemented.

Ask the right questions – Consider careful the questions being asked. If the survey is perceived by employees of just trying to tick the right boxes the survey could result in more negative attitudes.

An annual survey should ask questions that will provide senior management with an overall temperature check of the organization.

Ensure that the questions that are asked are applicable to all departments and personnel. Where there are areas of the organization that would appear to require detailed investigation consider running a further survey that can be focused towards specific personnel.

Incentive – Most employees will feel that by being able to give their opinions that they are already stakeholders in the exercise and will be happy to participate in the survey as they will expect to benefit from the process.

However, to help improve the overall response rate some incentive could be used and it could also be used to encourage early participation.

Either all participating employees could be awarded a small incentive or entered into a prize draw for a much bigger prize.

Anonymous – The decision to allow respondents to remain anonymous or not needs careful consideration. A survey that is conducted anonymously may allow employees to be more candid, however, anonymity may encourage some individuals to make wild accusations that can not be substantiated and cause considerable concern. When in doubt it is often better to keep everything ‘on the record’ rather than ‘off’.

Where survey respondents are known there is the opportunity to chase for surveys that have not been completed and also to follow up on some issues directly with those employees who have raised them as problems.

Comments – Keep free text comments to a minimum because they are difficult and time consuming to measure and analyze.

Limit the number of questions that allow for free text responses, usually a question at the end of the survey that asks for general comments is sufficient and very effective; consider conducting further surveys to follow-up where the earlier survey identifies areas where additional and more specific information is required.

 

Risks

Management – Some managers can regard any form of employee consultation as a sign of weakness and may have a tendency to dismiss out of hand any negative comment.

Warts and All – A survey is likely to reveal warts and all. Senior management should be prepared for discovering that the top down view can differ from the bottom up view and that ignorance, of any identified problems, can no longer be used as an excuse.

Non-Action – Many employees will invest time and effort in participating in a survey and their hopes and expectations will be raised. If nothing is done post survey to address the issues that have been raised by the survey then employees may develop a cynical attitude and make it more difficult to obtain employee feedback in future.

Management should be prepared to formally recognize and respond to any issue that is raised as a result of conducting a survey even if the demands of employees are not to be met. If senior management agree to address and resolve some issues then action needs to have started before any further survey is scheduled.

Can Cause Problems – Where surveys reveal, or bring problems, to the surface there could be a tendency for senior management to blame the messenger.

 

Summary

The benefits of conducting regular online employee questionnaires can be considerable, but for them to be effective important upfront considerations need to be made. Employees can find responding to surveys therapeutic but it is the post-survey analysis and the management’s response and action that will ultimately determine how useful and effective the process has been.

For a sample employee satisfaction survey: Employee Satisfaction Poll

Tags: Project Management Process