If you’ve ever worked for a larger, older company, you’ve likely filled out an employee job satisfaction survey. And, like most people that have had to fill them out, you likely did it begrudgingly and with little faith in its value. That’s a common belief among employees because, unfortunately, companies do employee job satisfaction surveys all wrong.
Fortunately, there are ways to make your job satisfaction survey worth the time. These surveys can give you solid, quantifiable data from your employees. And the reality is, you want to know whether they are satisfied with their jobs. Keeping employees happy improves employee retention, and makes your office a more enjoyable place to be.
Better your company's surveys with these five simple steps.
1. Keep Your Job Satisfaction Survey Short
While doing some research for this piece, I ran across some surveys that went on far too long. There were some that even had over 100 questions. Deciding the exact information that's most valuable to your company is an important first step. If you start to make the survey too long, the task becomes burdensome. Stick to 10-15 constructive questions that will give you useful information. Don't ask questions that could give yes/no answers. Ask "why" and "how."
2. Conduct Surveys Often
Doing short, 10-15 question surveys means that you can do them more often. Don't be afraid to build upon your last survey's questions in your next. If you covered employees' satisfaction with their compensation in your last survey, for instance, you can include more specific questions on the same topic in your next.
By doing the surveys more often, you also become more aware of any negative changes in perception. Some companies do a survey once a year. However, a lot can change in a year and by the time you have conducted next year’s survey, people might be really discouraged by something. Gathering data more regularly will help you to keep track of negative trends that might pop up.
3. Use the Data Quickly
Acquiring the finished surveys are the hard part - you have all the data you need. Ensure that you organize it and, ideally, share the scrubbed data with your employees in graphs, charts and discussion points. It’s almost too easy to do them. Despite this, companies take forever to actually do anything with the data they collect. The correct format for conducting a survey should be:
- April 1: Survey is released
- April 15: Survey results are due
- May 1: Results are available
- May 2: Meetings to discuss the results
Believe it or not, it doesn’t take more than two weeks to do a survey. People are going to wait until the last minute anyway, so truncate the allotted time to finish. Further, it doesn’t take more than a couple of weeks to actually analyze the data.
Organizing the data points also give you specific next steps to bettering employee satisfaction.
4. Keep it Truly Anonymous
If you want true honesty from your employees, there are two ways to get it. You either have an incredible culture where you reward employees speaking their mind; or, you have to create an environment where feedback can be completely anonymous.
On one survey I took, the company asked what department I was in and how long I had been at the company. There were three of us in the department at that time and two of us had started the same month. If you flip a coin, you’d guess that I had filled in those answers. Despite me emailing my HR manager about it, there was no attempt to change that, so I didn’t fill out the survey.
Employees need to feel safe if they are going to give feedback. While you may not get exact demographics about it, you’ll know that there are people who are frustrated. If you see a trend developing, even without knowing specifically who it is, you can gain the information you need to act accordingly.
5. Actually Change
This ties into #3, but it is worth its own point. I have a friend who year-after-year has to do the same survey for his company. And then they pull everyone into the room and start talking about things. And every year, nothing actually gets done. He knows that the company doesn’t actually care about making any change; they just want everyone to believe they care.
If you want employees to take their survey seriously, you need to act. Sometimes it is not easy to act on bigger, cultural things. But if you can make small changes, this will show the employees that you listened and are acting. Finding the low hanging fruit will buy you time while you research other potential avenues.
Do the Surveys, But Act Fast
The real moral here is that surveys can be a great way to get information, but if you do nothing with that information, you’re failing your employees and you’re failing yourself. Therefore, conduct short, fast surveys, analyze the data quickly, and then make changes. If you’re willing to do that, your employees will be honest with you. And if not, you won’t ever know that they are unhappy until the mass-exodus that every company can experience.
Happy teams perform better. Learn how to keep your employees happy and productive.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.