As the economy changes and becomes more unpredictable, do you know what your employees are thinking or doing? Are they loyal to your company--committed to the organization, management, and colleagues--because they believe in your workplace? Or are they staying put just to secure themselves a job? Either way, if you want to become an exceptional workplace, you should look to understand your employees and whether or not they're satisfied working for you.

Employee surveys are a great tool to understand your employees' morale and motivation. They can also help you gauge if your perception of your workplace is in line with how employees feel about working there. They can evaluate many different things, but most commonly measure whether employees are receiving constructive feedback, if there are opportunities for job growth, the level of teamwork, quality of the work, whether employees understand the company mission and purpose, and the pace of the office and degree of work-life balance.

The most successful employee surveys ask tough questions and address company pain points, rather than seek confirmation of areas you already believe to be strengths. This way, they not only build trust within an organization, but also help create goals the company can strive for together.

As you set out to do your employee survey, here's how you can make sure it's useful for you:

1. Be prepared to do something with the results. If you ask employees to go through the exercise and then do nothing with it, you're guaranteed to disappoint them, and discourage them from participating next time. If you do surveys regularly, be sure to routinely recognize achievements and convey that you're working together toward solving issues.

2. Explain honestly why you're conducting a survey and clear that, although the data will be carefully assessed, unfortunately not every issue that comes up will be addressed.

3. Make sure employees know that all data is confidential. If employees think their answers are going into 'files,' their responses are less likely to be honest.

4. Conduct your survey at your office. If a survey is held off-site, it relays a message that it's not safe to be honest or critical at work. That message undermines any value from the results.

5. Ask all employees to respond to your survey, or randomly select those who will. I don't recommend you allow employees to self-select to participate. If you do, you'll find that only very satisfied or highly communicative employees sign up. Your less approachable staff is guaranteed to be unrepresented. To encourage participation, remind employees how past survey results have helped to implement specific changes like new vacation policies or benefits programs.

By making sure the employee survey is something that translates into measurable results and tangible action, employees won't groan when you ask them to complete one. They'll look forward to making their voices heard.

Published on: Aug 9, 2012
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