We will talk about the best, in my opinion, HR-tool for staff surveys. It allows you to access and analyze information on employee’s satisfaction with various aspects of work of a company’s department, and to objectively assess the performance of managers.
With it, you can compare the performance of various departments, assess the dynamics during a selected period of time, and determine the rankings.
In general, it is a wonderful tool which has proven itself very efficient. However, with all its undeniable merits I do not recommend to use it and I will tell you why a little bit later. Firstly, let me explain why it was needed, and how it got to me.
A client of mine needed to solve two problems. The first one was assessing the competence of managers through a staff survey and giving each of them recommendations on how to improve the quality of management. The second problem was in assessing the level of employee satisfaction with various aspects of work and in rating units with used indicators.
The prerequisites were the anonymity of the data collection and processing and bringing results to the attention of all respondents.
The toolkit, which allows receiving and analyzing information about the attitude of employees to their work in the company, for the most part, is created by psychologists.
Authors of many techniques are whole research teams, but despite the existence of a variety of questionnaires, selection of a suitable tool turned out to be no easy task.
The truth is that most of the techniques developed by psychologists and sociologists are intended for scientific research. The data obtained using these techniques allow illustrating some scientific concepts that are close to the authors but does not allow the user to give a simple and clear practical recommendations that would be clear even to a non-professional. This is true in regard to both automated systems and primitive forms with a list of random questions.
I took seriously the work of many authors and tried some of the methods, but did not understand how to use the obtained data, how to write a conclusion for the customer, how to explain to survey participants what is really going on in their team, and how to advise the head of a department. So it became clear that for my task all these psychological tools are not worth the effort.
I left psychology alone, and instead called logic, common sense, and management literature to the rescue.
I suppose that some readers will disagree with me, but it seems to me that conducting a survey on employees’ satisfaction with working conditions is extremely risky. Employees are asked questions, and the employer can judge their expectations by the responses .
If the employer conducts a survey not out of sheer curiosity, then, at least, it should be accompanied by the willingness to change something. That’s why after it employees expect that something will change in the company for the better. But in reality, it does not always happen.
Recommendations rarely help inefficient managers and companies’ owners are not too enthusiastic about increasing employee satisfaction with raising their salaries and improving working conditions because it requires additional funds. Such decisions are often made because of unwanted staff turnover and problems with staffing in general but not on the basis of the data from questionnaires.
The absence of any change cannot help but cause employees’ frustration. Previously, the company's management did not change anything, because they "did not know", "did not notice", or "did not understand" the existing problems, leaving hope for a change for the better. But now the lack of action after interpreting survey results makes employees think: "nothing will ever change or be better here, definitely". Hence the possible negativity towards the employer.
If you are not sure that the survey will give a positive result do not conduct it.
In my case, I was pretty sure that we will not get positive results but I was still able to convince my client to conduct the survey. Why? It's very simple: the customer was a government company the management of which by definition could not actively influence salaries and bonuses or any other material aspects of work that employees were asked about in the survey. This way the employees did not have any high expectations and the survey itself caused only positive emotions because it showed that the superiors actually care about what their subordinates think, which is quite rare in such companies.
By itself, this tool – questionnaire - seems to be quite good. Marketing Specialist and coaches can find it useful for the creative processing of the estimated parameters.
Of course, it can be used to assess employees’ satisfaction, but making sure there are no negative consequences will not be easy at all.
And finally - a bonus: the easiest and safest way to measure the satisfaction of employees in the company is just one question - "Would you recommend our company as an employer to your friends?". Ask it regularly and track the dynamics.
I wish you success!