For years, Gallup Research has reported on the impact of employee engagement on profits.
Meanwhile, they’ve also reported on the dismal state of employee engagement; employees simply don’t care about their work as much as employers would hope.
For instance, in 2013, Gallup Research found that more-engaged employees have 21% higher productivity, 37% less absenteeism, and 41% fewer quality defects. With these numbers, it’s clear that engagement matters and that employers should want to find out how their employees are feeling about their jobs. In fact, they seem to want to find out because we’ve seen a surge in employee surveys over the past few years.
But, according to a 2018 Gallup article, employee engagement is rising and yet, 53% of employees remain “not engaged”. Author Jim Harter explains that these employees “…may be generally satisfied but are not cognitively and emotionally connected to their work and workplace…” (Harter, 2018).
So even if employers are surveying their employees, perhaps they are not listening to their employees as well, or as often as they could. After all, something seems amiss when more than half of employees are still apathetic.
Beyond employee engagement, customer experience remains a high priority for many companies, and employee feedback is a crucial part of that equation. Employees have an inside perspective on the experience you provide. They know your revenue goals, your brand promise, and mission statement.
Getting Their Side of the Story
Last week we were analyzing data from a customer survey. As we ran our verbatim analysis on the survey’s open-ended comments, a theme emerged related to employee expertise. Customers felt that employees were not clear in their technical explanations of the company’s products. This is a great example of where an employee survey could be implemented.
If you want your employees to become better communicators, you need to know how employees see themselves and where they see room for improvement. Without employee input, it’s hard to know the specifics of what they might be open to learning and how deep training initiatives need to go.
How to Make Your Employee Surveys Better
Generally, most companies benefit from at least two or three kinds of employee surveys: a brief daily pulse survey, a quarterly check-in survey, and an annual check up survey. Topics include anything from what they’ve accomplished that day to perceptions of customers, peers, and bosses.
The daily pulse survey is an automated, once-a-day email that asks employees a single question (drawing from a rotating bank of 5-15 question options). Examples include:
- What’s challenged you so far today?
- What was the first thing you did today?
The quarterly check-in survey is a short survey, combining 3-4 close-ended questions with 2-3 open-ended questions. Ideally it should take no more than 10 minutes to complete. With the quarterly check-in, it’s great to ask questions like:
- Do you feel like the work you do is important? Y/N
- What is one thing you wish had happened this quarter that didn’t?
- How do you feel about your performance? Where would you like to improve?
With the annual check-up survey, consider an inversion survey where you ask employees to answer customer survey questions as if they were a customer. By comparing customer and employee answers you’re able to uncover customer-employee perception gaps.
In addition to the inversion approach, great questions to ask on the annual check-up include:
- In what areas could we better serve our clientele?
- In what areas could you use more coaching?
Watch Out for Bias and Ensure Anonymity!
Be careful to avoid bias when implementing employee surveys. Simply calling your survey an “Engagement Survey” implies that you are expecting there to be at least some engagement. Instead, give your survey a neutral name.
It’s also important to ensure that your survey allows for both anonymous and non-anonymous answers. If your employees want to share identifying information it’s important to give them that option, but be sure to also give them the option to answer anonymously—the feedback you get will always be more honest this way.
When done well, employee surveys are a great investment. Listening to those who know the inner workings of your company will improve not only your employee engagement but also your customer experience and business as a whole. It’s obvious employee feedback matters. So measure it, measure it often, and measure it well!