An Employee Survey May Be The Key To Business Success

High turnover is a costly management problem which includes expensive training and lost productivity. Victor Lipman, author of the book, The Type B Manager: Leading Successfully in a Type A World observes “total costs are often estimated from a third of annual salary to numerous multiples of salary for executive positions. As anyone who has ever hired employees knows, the process is seldom as simple as you expect it will be. Employee surveys open the lines of communication with employees and offer an effective way for them to provide honest feedback. Because employee satisfaction is key to company growth, it is important for employees to provide honest answers to survey questions.” The National Research Business Institute states “the cost of employee dissatisfaction can be huge and many companies try to prevent the loss of employees by throwing money at them. While it may work for a little while, the undermining factors will go unnoticed, resulting in throwing more money at the problem. With employee surveys however, it can be easier to see where the money should be going and often companies find that their costs go down significantly.” One of the best ways to combat high turnover is to make employee surveys part of your company’s corporate culture. Surveys are an important step in finding problem areas and can offer opportunities for improvement.

Charlie Gason, writer for Bizfluent explains definitively the importance of employee surveys “an employee survey should be short and focused, follow a logical order and contain closed-ended questions whenever possible. Survey questions should be simple and follow the same rating scale throughout. Ideally, workplace surveys should be given only when employees have sufficient time to provide honest and complete answers. Employees are more likely to respond to surveys when provided on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Offering an incentive may increase response rates if surveys are given outside of these times. Surveying employees will gauge attitudes at the office, reveal employees’ expectations and answer the question ‘How is management performing?’ The anonymity of workplace surveys encourages honesty and fosters confidence, which is key for employees that are afraid of reprisals for negative feedback. Employees that complete workplace surveys provide employers with important insight into company culture. Rather than ruminate about how an office runs, employees can help create lasting changes. For example, employees may offer feedback on company policies, make requests for vending machines or express a desire for vegetarian selections in an office cafeteria. Employees benefit from improvements in company culture and solutions to workplace conflicts. Employee surveys seek to identify problems and find opportunities for improvement. Using survey results, employers can determine trends in the workforce or their industry and screen possible solutions to problems such as employee dissatisfaction, low company morale and high turnover rates. Spending time identifying what employees want may give a leg up in limiting future conflicts.”

Susan E. DeFranzo, Marketing Manager, U.S. at SnapSurveys offers four key points on why companies should do employee surveys:

1. “Uncover the answers. In a non-intimidating survey environment, you will learn about what motivates survey respondents and what is important to them and gather meaningful opinions, comments and feedback. A non-intimidating survey environment is one that best suits the privacy needs of the survey respondent. Respondents are more likely to provide open and honest feedback in a more private survey method. Methods such as online surveys, paper surveys or mobile surveys are more private and less intimidating than face-to-face survey interviews or telephone surveys.

2. Evoke discussion. Give your survey respondents an opportunity to discuss important key topics. Communicate with your respondents about your survey topic. This allows you to dig deeper into your survey and can incite topics related to your survey within a broader perspective.

3. Base decisions on objective information. Conducting surveys is an unbiased approach to decision-making. Do not rely on ‘gut feelings’ to make important business decisions. You can collect unbiased survey data and develop sensible decisions based on analyzed results. By analyzing results, you can immediately address topics of importance, rather than waste time and valuable resources on areas of little or no concern.

4. Compare results. Survey results provide a snapshot of the attitudes and behaviors – including thoughts, opinions and comments – about your target survey population. This valuable feedback is your baseline to measure and establish a benchmark from which to compare results over time.”

The late legendary Sid Tuchman, founder of Tuchman Advisory Group described his opinion about the value of surveys by stating “all managers can benefit from an honest appraisal of their management skills from their staff. Because your employees may be reluctant to discuss your strengths and weaknesses frankly, you may want to solicit anonymous feedback. Asking workers a few questions while giving them the opportunity to respond to them anonymously, increases the chances the feedback you receive is honest, helpful and productive.”

This well-known expression in the business community, People leave managers, not companies, is the reason you should consider developing a survey for your business. It will answer the question “How is management performing?” Listed below is a compilation of questions from numerous sources for your consideration. Choose the questions that cover the areas you are most interested in knowing about from your employees. Next to each question use the agreement-scale format from which your employees can select Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree or Strongly Disagree. Ideally, an employee survey is conducted annually.

Sample Questions

1. Would you recommend your manager to others?

2. Does your manager assign stretch opportunities to help you develop in your career?

3. Does your manager communicate clear goals for your team?

4. Does your manager give you actionable feedback on a regular basis?

5. Does your manager provide the autonomy needed to do your job?

6. Does your manager consistently show consideration to you as a person?

7. Does your manager keep your team focused on priorities, even when it is difficult?

8. Does your manager regularly share relevant information from their senior leadership?

9. Has your manager had a meaningful discussion with you about your career development in the past six months?

10. Does your manager have the technical expertise required to effectively manage you?

11. Does your manager value the perspectives that you bring to the team, even if it is different from their own?

12. Does your manager make tough decisions?

13. Does your manager effectively collaborate across organizational boundaries?

14. Do you regularly receive constructive performance feedback from your manager?

15. Do you understand how your performance is measured?

16. Do you think your manager cares about you as a person?

17. Does your manager care about your development?

18. Does management clearly communicate expectations?

19. Does your manager effectively communicate the information you need to do your job?

20. Does your manager explain the reasons behind decisions made?

21. Does your manager handle disagreements professionally?

22. Does your manager explain how the organization’s future plans affect you?

23. Does your manager create a trusting and open environment?’

24. Does your manager treat everyone on the team fairly?

25. Is your manager responsive to your ideas, requests and suggestions?

26. Are you confident in the overall effectiveness of your immediate manager?

27. Does your manager have the expertise and ability to help you and your team succeed?

28. Do you and your manager discuss your career within the company?

29. Does your manager recognize the importance of your personal and family life?

Do not conduct a survey and then take no action. Follow-through is critical; you do not want your employees to say, “What happened to that survey I completed about management?” Immediately after the survey, be sure to thank the employees for participating and give them a time-line of when the results will be announced. Joshua Sloan, Insights Strategist with Culture Amp, suggests, “Sharing results with the organization as soon as possible following survey-close is vital to maintaining momentum, confidence in the accuracy of the results and belief that action will be taken to address opportunities.” When your results are in, be sure to inform employees the main discoveries and changes contemplated.

About Ellen Tuchman Rothmann

Ellen Rothmann has 30 years of experience in sales and marketing and utilizes these skills to support and facilitate seminars for Tuchman Advisory Group (TAG). Prior to her role with TAG, she was VP of Operations for Richard Wolffer’s Auctions that specialized in sports and entertainment memorabilia. As an Account Manager for K101 – a San Francisco Bay Area radio station – she worked with small businesses to build unique and profitable advertising and promotional campaigns for her clients. Growing up in the dry cleaning business, Ellen worked in numerous capacities at Tuchman Cleaners. She also held sales positions at Apparelmaster and Tuchman Cleaner’s Home Carpet and Drapery businesses. Rothmann earned her B.A. in Marketing from Indiana University. She lives in San Francisco with her husband John, they have two sons For more information contact Ellen Tuchman Rothmann, President, Tuchman Advisory Group. e-mail: ellenrothmann@yahoo.com