HR professor


Enhancing the effectiveness of an Employee Satisfaction Survey

In many organizations, employers undertake the Employee Satisfaction Survey (ESS). The ESS is a great mechanism for bottom-to-top communication if all things work under perfect conditions. However, in most ES surveys, managers get to hear a wide range of excuses from employees who didn't avail of the employee satisfaction survey. Here is a list of such excuses:
  • ES survey is only a charade; the management truly doesn't give a damn about such survey results
  • Why should I risk my job by voicing my feelings about the companies' policies? What if this is just a corporate witch-hunting exercise?
  • Who has the time for such mundane things like employee satisfaction surveys?
These are the typical reasons given by employees who fear the employee satisfaction survey. Sometimes, employees don't like to stand out in their negative opinions. Hence they hide their real feelings about organizational issues.

Employee satisfaction survey reflects not just on the climate of the organization. If studied well, it could bring out a number of problems that exist within the system. ESS has known to reveal deep seated nepotism, bribery and other malpractices. Employee satisfaction survey also reveals whether employees align their personal goals with the corporate goals. To make ESS a successful tool, managers need to understand the following:

Develop Confidence in the ESS
Employees need to know that the organization is fully committed to taking the Employee Satisfaction Survey quite seriously. There has to be adequate follow up after the survey. The company needs to communicate periodically about the post-survey developments. Make employees a part of the development process. Before the survey, the organization should communicate the purpose of the exercise. At any point of time, the company should not raise false expectations. There should be proper communication mechanisms in place for grievances in case the employee fear abuse by managers. Employees should be encouraged to voice their opinions without worrying about consequences on their job.

Respect the Confidentiality
Nobody likes to be made the official scapegoat. Employees fear victimization by their superiors. Hence satisfaction surveys fail to reflect the truth. If however, confidentiality concerns are addressed, then employees will be emboldened to speak out their minds. Companies must take care not to break this fragile bond of trust. All survey forms should deter from asking bio-data like information from employees. Surveys should discourage employees from disclosing names in the questionnaire. Communication with all employees should be on the condition of anonymity unless it becomes essential to know personal details.

Simple Easy Questions Give Better Responses
Make sure that the survey questions are not vague, leading to misinterpretation. People don't like to be burdened by long list of questions. The questions should not require the person to consult other data resources. Questions should be framed such that a person would be in a position to answer them with ease and clarity.

It's A Long Way Ahead
At the end of this exercise, if you don't get 100 percent participation, don't be dejected. Expect that a few people would still be unable to use the ESS. If your tool has numerical data, you can extrapolate the information to get a statistical result. After the survey, the HR team must communicate with employees on a periodic basis and inform them how the organization plans to utilize the information. The success of ESS depends on the sincerity of the managers. If managers choose, ESS can be the mirror that reflects the inherent problems of an organization.

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