Knowing what your employees really think of your company’s conditions and culture can be one of the most valuable pieces of insight you can gain, and anonymous staff surveys are the best way to get honest opinions and find out ideas for improvement your staff may be holding onto. Employee surveys can be incredibly useful in assessing how well your initiatives to keep employees satisfied are working, as well as perhaps finding clues to issues you might be having with staff turnover. Happy staff are loyal and productive, but your ideas about how satisfied the people in your organization are may differ from the reality.
Of course, staff surveys are only effective when done in a timely manner, analyzed efficiently, and acted upon. Many companies have missed opportunities by not conducting surveys regularly enough, asking the wrong questions, or sitting on the results rather than using them to drive improvement. One of the most important things to get right is when you do the surveys. Here are three times you should definitely quiz your staff:
A companywide annual survey should be an event on your yearly business calendar. Services like Insightlink can help you devise and execute surveys, taking a lot of the admin out of making this a regular exercise. Create a window in which people have to complete their surveys so the process doesn’t drag on or annoy employees, and choose a time of year when things are ‘normal’, rather than the busiest time in your industry or the holidays or summer vacation period. You want to assess what the normal, everyday level of satisfaction is, without the mood changing effects of particularly stressful or slow periods. Surveys should be anonymous if you want people to be honest, however it can be good to have some identifiers, such as the participant’s level in the organization or their department. If you are looking into diversity too, you may also want to know things like their gender.
When people leave the company, a survey should be part of exit processes – whether they have resigned, had their position terminated, been made redundant or reached the end of a temporary contract, their thoughts can be useful. These will not be anonymous, of course, but people tend to be honest when they are exiting a company as there is no fear of repercussions.
Another good time to survey people is when they join the company. Allow a couple of weeks to complete orientation, and make this one of the last steps in the induction process. This lets you see what people’s first impressions of your business and its culture are, as well as helping you improve the way you introduce and train new people. Again, anonymity is difficult with these unless you take on large groups of people all at once, but you can hope for honesty by asking opinions around the induction phase they have completed, and asking for positive suggestions.
These may not be the only times you’d want to do surveys on your staff, but they are the three most important for finding out useful information.