The benefits of conducting regular employee surveys can be considerable, but for surveys to be effective important upfront considerations need to be made. Although the process of conducting a survey can be therapeutic in itself it is the post-survey analysis, response and action that will ultimately determine how useful and effective the process has been.
Identify problems - Surveys can be very effective in identifying problem areas before they become serious. Working Environment - Surveys allow problems to be identified in a measured and controlled manner.
Remuneration and benefits - Measure and monitor how satisfied personnel are with their remuneration and benefits.
Mood and morale - Provides a simple but effective method to measure and monitor the mood and morale of an organization.
Benchmark - In the same way that an organization will consider their financial position by comparison with previous years, so the regular use of surveys will allow an organization to monitor and measure their progress and development in non-financial terms.
Training - Lack of proper training is a common cause of dissatisfaction among employees and can lead to more serious problems such as stress.
Communication - For an organization to run efficiently good internal and external communications are essential, surveys can provide a method to help organizations to monitor and measure how well an organization communicates.
Goals and Objectives - Surveys can measure and monitor the extent that the personnel are aligned with the management's business goals and objectives.
Cost Effective - surveys are quick and easy to create, simple to deploy and will provide real-time results.
Keeping the Initiative - It is always better for management to ask than be told. By conducting regular employee surveys management are able to keep the initiative in trying to identify problems that may otherwise manifest into demands.
Management Backing - A survey that is both sanctioned and has the support of management will go some way in ensuring that any action required, based on the survey findings, will be implemented.
A survey that is to be conducted annually should try and ask questions that will provide management with an overall health check of the organization.
Incentive - Most employees will feel that by being able to give their opinions that they are already stakeholders in the exercise and will be happy to participate in the survey as they will expect to benefit from the process.
Anonymous - The decision to allow respondents to remain anonymous or not needs careful consideration. A survey that is conducted anonymously may allow employees to be more candid, however, anonymity may encourage some individuals to make wild accusations that can not be substantiated and cause considerable concern. When in doubt it is often better to keep everything 'on the record' rather than 'off'.
Where survey respondents are known there is the opportunity to chase for surveys that have not been completed and also to follow up on some issues directly with those employees who have raised them as problems.
Although there are distinct advantages to conducting regular employee satisfaction surveys, there can also be risks.
Management - Some managers can regard any form of employee consultation as a sign of weakness and may have a tendency to dismiss out of hand any negative comment.
Warts and All - A survey is likely to reveal warts and all. management should be prepared for discovering that the top down view can differ from the bottom up view and that ignorance, of any identified problems, can no longer be used as an excuse.
Non-Action - Many employees will invest time and effort in participating in a survey and their hopes and expectations will be raised. Any post-survey non-action is likely to promote cynicism and jeopardize any future initiatives to obtain employee feedback.
Management should formally respond to the issues raised in surveys even if the demands of employees are not to be met. If management agree to address and resolve some issues then action needs to have started before any further survey is scheduled.
Can Cause Problems - Where surveys reveal, or bring problems, to the surface there could be a tendency for management to blame the messenger.
As of this edit, this article uses content from Day, Martin. The Advantages, Considerations and Risks of Employee Satisfaction Surveys (Internet). Version 2. Knol. 2008 Jul 26., which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license, but not under the GFDL. All relevant terms must be followed.