HR professor


Employee Opinion Survey: For the Cat Needs to Get Out of the Bag

There! It's coming back. The voice that's telling you to unplug your mouse and dart it at the bald pate of your pompous, self-important boss. This noise in your head is haunting your mind till you are left with no choice to believe that you are Jan Brady of the classic Brady Bunch. Except that unlike Jan these are not just voices in your head but in fact are your opinions on the various dynamics of the workplace. And you are not alone in feeling disgruntled and disillusioned by your opinions not being heard.

A recent employee opinion survey has revealed that the suppression of employee opinions is one of the top 3 reasons for employee turnover in many companies.

So what causes so many employees to be unheard and how can we improve this situation so as to benefit both the employer as well as the employees? Employee opinion survey is one sure way of doing just this. Through the survey, employers are able probe into the opinions of the employees on the various issues, problems, changes, suggestions they have to offer.

Employee opinion survey is thus an important tool for the management to understand the needs, desires and wants of their employees.

Broadly an employee opinion survey is used for assessing training needs of employees, effectiveness of training, 'Career-pathing,' employee opinions on performance appraisals-the process as well as the result, opinions on organizational practices, the opinions on a particular change etc.

The growth of employee opinion surveys in recent times has not gone unnoticed and at the same time it has been affected by other dynamics of the business world too. The implication of globalization on employee opinion survey may have resulted in integration of workforce of a company across the globe, but it has also necessitated that the employee opinion survey must take into account the geographical and cultural environment.

For example, in a particular part of the world employees were asked to rate their HR trainers post the training program, in order to judge the effectiveness of the same. The same question seemed abhorrent and disrespectful to employees in another part of the world when posed to them.

Similarly, problems of high attrition, frequent technology changes and increasing competition in the marketplace have led many a company to realize that an employee opinion survey helps the company to evaluate and identify the knowledge its present pool of employees have and thus embark on the journey towards knowledge management.

However employers are likely to encounter the following problems in administering the employee opinion survey in their organization. Of these, the following five are the ones that are most commonly faced by employees:

Poor medium chosen to conduct the survey-internet, written, telephonic, intranet-based, interviewing, group Discussion etc are some of the media use.
Employers much choose a medium that is most insightful for the organization and convenient to the employees
Poor administration of the survey
Employees perceive a real disincentive to be honest in the survey
Employees do no see any incentive for them to be honest
Unskilled evaluation of the data collected in the survey
This however, is not reason enough for organizations to not take advantage of the benefits an employee opinion survey has to offer. Despite the above-stated problems, employees also perceive an employee opinion survey as a chance to participate in deciding the features of their work environment and a feel-good wave tides over in the organization making employees feel values, appreciated and listened to. The best approach therefore would be to continuously evaluate the employee opinion survey within the organization through feedback from employees, consultants and eminent experts so as to get the cat out of the bag in a manner least difficult.

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