If you want to have happier employees, you first need to find out what makes them feel unhappy or dissatisfied while at work. Most business owners and managers turn to employee satisfaction surveys to understand this dynamic. It does make sense that the best way to learn about what makes employees happy or unhappy is to ask them. Unfortunately, most companies fail to properly write, promote, and interpret their employee surveys. While a good employee satisfaction survey offers tremendous insight into a company’s culture, ineffective satisfaction survey questions and a failure to properly address issues raised in surveys can serve to alienate employees and increase disengagement at an alarming pace.
Why are employee satisfaction survey response rates so low?
For an employee satisfaction survey to be successful, a response rate high enough to reach a representative sample on every demographic slice is key. Higher participation in employee surveys gives bosses and managers more varied and in-depth insight into what their workers truly want and need to be more satisfied, which gives them the ability to create more successful solutions to issues raised in the survey responses.
In a Forbes article dedicated to helping business owners understand consistently low rates of participation in employee satisfaction surveys, research shows that most businesses see only a 30%-40% response rate to employee surveys.
Part of the reason for this is that many employees today have become accustomed to filling out the annual employee survey and then seeing very little action taken by their companies to address issues brought up in those surveys. This leads employees to believe that either their responses are not being read or that their happiness is actually not as highly valued by their employers as they are told. In fact, when employees see no results after participating in such surveys, the message they receive is that they are not valued at all.
Thus, when companies send out surveys via email with subject lines like “let your voice be heard”, they are not interpreted as encouraging but rather as insulting to employees who feel that their voices will never truly be heard, no matter how loudly they yell. In such situations, surveys which are intended to enhance the employee experience serve to further disengage employees before they read the first question. The employees who choose to participate in the survey may not be likely to give responses which are constructive or helpful.
At NBRI, we have learned after decades of conducting employee satisfaction surveys that there are more effective ways to encourage employees to participate in surveys. We can help coach managers so that they understand what motivates and de-motivates employees when it comes to surveys so that participation increases. Furthermore, we have banks of standardized survey questions and can also write custom survey questions to elicit insightful responses. An effective survey allows employees to voice praise as well as frustrations in a manner that helps them feel heard and appreciated for their contributions. Actionable survey responses help management understand how to better foster a productive, positive, and successful work environment.
Once you have an employee satisfaction survey written and promoted in a manner that makes employees more apt to participate (and to do so honestly), the real work begins. As noted earlier, many employees are convinced that their managers and bosses don’t even read their survey responses. Unfortunately, this is often the truth.
According to a Forbes article entitled “Happy Employees Equals Happy Customers”, “A study by Aon Hewitt showed that in companies that administered employee engagement surveys 27% of managers never reviewed the results at all. Fifty-two percent of managers read the results and took no action. You didn’t misread that—this means more than half of managers.”
While it may seem that these managers simply don’t care what their workers want or need to feel more satisfied with their work lives, in truth many managers also feel overstressed, unappreciated, and unheard by their managers. Furthermore, they may also not feel empowered to make the necessary changes to ensure that the employees who work under them feel satisfied, either because they lack access to resources or because they lack the support of their superiors.
To achieve a truly successful employee survey, it is necessary to write survey questions which speak to the experiences and needs of employees at different levels of the corporate hierarchy. At NBRI, our experts in organizational psychology have spent years studying employees at all levels of companies, from the lowest-paid recent graduates to the CEOs. This experience and insight uniquely qualifies us to help you make the most of your employee satisfaction survey. We will interpret what your employees’ responses are really saying about your company culture and how it may be improved. Then, we will work with you to develop results-driven solutions to make sure your employees feel valued and supported.
It’s no coincidence that there are always overlaps when comparing the lists of the most profitable companies with the lists of the best companies to work for. In February 2013, an article featured by USA Today called “Do Happy Workers Mean Higher Profits” shared this fact: “Publicly traded companies in the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list have gained an average 10.8% a year since 1998.” When employees feel valued at work and are satisfied with their jobs, they provide better customer service, they perform more strongly and are more productive, and turnover rates are much lower. This means that companies with happy employees aren’t wasting time and money on continuously training new workers, on class-action lawsuits, or on strikes. Wise and timely investments in employee satisfaction pay large and lasting dividends.
If happy workers are the key to successful businesses, then effective employee communication is essential. With properly written, promoted, and interpreted employee survey templates conducted through the support of our experts at NBRI, business owners and managers are able to engage in meaningful information exchanges with their employees, paving the way for a more positive workplace environment, enhanced productivity and employee loyalty, and increased profits.