Although there are distinct advantages to conducting regular employee satisfaction surveys online - there can also be risks.
Listed here are some of the main advantages, considerations and the possible risks to conducting employee satisfaction surveys nline.
Identify Problems - Surveys are can be very effective in identify problems areas before they become serious, especially those that are hidden from senior management.
Working Environment - From something small like a broken chair to the more serious problem of sick building syndrome that can result in personnel experiencing headaches; eye, nose, and throat irritation; a dry cough; dry or itchy skin; dizziness and nausea; and difficulty in concentrating. Surveys allow environmental problems to be identified in a measured and controlled manner.
Remuneration & Benefits - Measure and staff monitoring how satisfied personnel are with their remuneration and benefits.
Mood and Moral - Provides a simple but effective method to measure and monitor the mood and moral 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 online surveys will allow an organization to monitor and measure their progress and development in non-financial terms.
Processes & Procedures - As businesses evolve some of the traditional processes and procedures can become antiquated, personnel are often the first to know and the last to be asked. Businesses evolve and the business processes need to be regularly re-aligned.
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 senior management's business goals and objectives.
Cost Effective - Using an online survey service such as surveys are quick and easy to create, simple to deploy and will provide real-time results.
Compliance - To properly comply with an ever increasing array of regulations the modern organization needs to be able to disseminate information throughout the organization and ensure, through records, that the information has been received, and importantly, understood. Online surveys provide organization with a cost effective method to meet many of their obligations.
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 senior management will go some way in ensuring that any action required, based on the survey findings, will be implemented.
Ask the right questions - Consider careful the questions being asked. If employees feel that the survey is just trying to tick the right boxes the survey could backfire.
A survey that is to be conducted annually should try and ask questions that will provide senior management with an overall health check of the organization.
Avoid questions that will only apply to specific departments or personnel. If some areas of the organization require detailed investigation consider running separate one-off surveys that can be targeted at specific personnel.
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.
However, some incentive may help improve the overall response rate or could be used to encourage early participation.
Smaller incentives could be handed out to all employees or all participating employees could be entered into a lottery to receive a more substantial prize.
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.
Comments - Keep free text comments to a minimum because they are difficult and time consuming to measure and analyze.
Consider limiting free text comments to one at the end of the survey or, in the case of surveys that are not being conducted anonymously, allow for a post-survey follow-up to obtain more information where additional and more specific detail is required.
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. Senior 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 senior 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 senior management to blame the messenger.
The benefits of conducting regular online 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.