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Losing Touch With Your Staff ... And What To Do About It

I'm not happy. The printer has still not been fixed and now my chair is broken. The problem with this place is that it is falling apart. My boss is okay but has no clue what is going on. ...

Staff Climate Surveys

That new guy that started last week, who no one bothered to introduce, has been given a job that he has no idea how to do; why didn't they just ask me? I could have told them that a new set of drawings have been issued so even if he did know what he was doing the drawings he is using are obsolete anyway. Sometimes I don't know why I bother turning up.

I went for a drink with some of the guys last night after work. No one is happy and Sally from Accounts says that she has just about had enough and is thinking of asking for a rise and if they don't give it to her she is going to quit.

The management here just don't have a clue, we are haemorrhaging money through our inefficiencies and they think that sending out memo's telling us that they are introducing new procedures for claiming expenses is going to make a difference – whoopee do.

I think I'll ask for a pay rise, if Sally from Accounts can get one I can.

And so it goes on.

These are the sort of thoughts that start to play on the minds of individuals when a company loses touch with their employees; the broken chair, the lack of appreciation, the blaming of 'management', even questioning the futility of what they are doing. Minor problems fester and a cynical and destructive mindset develops. Can you be sure that it isn't going on right now in your organisation?

Social events outside the office become nothing more than a forum for complaints and negativity grows among people who feel powerless to effect change. Dissatisfaction will often synthesise into a demand for an increase in remuneration, as though like a cheap fix more money will momentarily lessen the pain.

Left by management, undiscovered and unaware, the concern's of this employee will inevitable find solace with their colleagues own individual concerns, where the only common demand will be for an increase in remuneration, more paid holidays and a reduction in working hours, all of which will not fix the broken chair, ensure that new personnel are in future properly introduced, trained and managed nor help management identify areas of inefficiency.

Organisations have a habit of compartmentalising people, either physically through offices, cubicles and workstations but also in terms of responsibility. With effective and strong management to support this structure it can be productive, but as an organisation grows, and weak or inappropriate management infiltrates the management chain, it is inevitable that cracks will begin to appear.

From the top down all can appear rosy in the corporate garden as the weak and inappropriate manager reports that all is well in the engine room, oblivious to the fact that their coal stocks might be dwindling.

Experience shows us that relying on a limited number of indicators gives a skewed perspective just like a person with only one eye has difficulty judging distance. Good management will therefore establish procedures that sample the mood throughout the organisation from different perspectives providing a rounded picture.


Staff Climate Surveys - What Are They?

Successful companies have seen the value of creating a work environment (or climate) that is enjoyable, and motivates staff to be committed and effective performers. There are key aspects of an organisation's work climate that, if positive, can help retain staff, increase profits, and enhance job satisfaction. A Climate Survey examines staff opinions about the quality of their work climate and can be used to make workplace improvements.

The following is a brief description of the aspects that are typically measured by a staff climate survey:

  • Role-Clarity: Staff clearly understand their duties and their role within the organisation.

  • Staff/Management Relations: Staff relationships with management are based on trust, cooperation, open communication, and staff believe management is effective.

  • Respect: Staff value and feel values by their co-workers and the organisation.

  • Communication: Important information is communicated effectively, and staff believe they have a voice in the organisation.

  • Performance/Reward Systems: Staff performance is fairly evaluated, and they are adequately rewarded for their contributions.

  • Career Development: Staff are provided with adequate training/development opportunities to improve their professional skills.

  • Decision-Making/Coordination: Decision-making, delegation, and coordination are effective.

Source: Pure Survey

The benefits of establishing good, frequent and extensive communication channels are both direct and indirect.

A senior management team that is known to have their ear to the ground will command great respect and will keep middle managers from becoming complacent knowing that they can no longer dismiss the senior managers searching "How is everything going?" question with a glib "Fine"; In my book if someone says "fine" you have to ask if they really know what is going on.

Most principals of organisation will not have the luxury of spending time walking the floor and discussing the issues of individuals but through online surveys they can achieve the same benefits.

Online surveys are the perfect mechanism for establishing effective employer/employee communications. Using a survey hosting service they can now be created and published with ease and speed.

Using the internet and intranet surveys can be deployed in seconds, easily completed by employees and results can be displayed in real time allowing 'problems' and common themes of dissatisfaction to be identified early.

Online staff satisfaction surveys have the ability to get to the heart of an organisation, confirm not only that the engine room is working but that there is sufficient coal in the bunker.

The benefits that online surveys bring are considerable, not only are the real issues identified, but employees feel that their voices are being heard and that their views, right or wrong, have a forum.

Online surveys won't in themselves resolve a problem but they will give senior management the opportunity to address the problems and concerns of their employees, at least if people then leave the organisation they will be doing it for the right and not wrong reasons.

The grass will always appear greener on the other side but the underlying reasons for good people leaving an organisation are rarely purely monetary (although it is often cited as the reason) and more often to do with one or more of the following:-

  • the workplace environment;

  • a lack of fulfilment;

  • limited training and feedback;

  • lack of career growth;

  • over work;

  • lack of trust and respect with their senior managers.

A well planned employer/employee communications programme that can identify the individual and common concerns of employees will give senior management the opportunity to address root problems and not just the symptoms of employee dissatisfaction, allowing them to demonstrate to their employees that they are not viewed simply as interchangeable parts that can be used for any job at hand.

Article Credits

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PeoplePulse is an Australian-built online survey tool that is currently used by over 200 Australian and New Zealand based organisations of all sizes to conduct online staff surveys. The tool can be used by HR to conduct cost effective staff climate surveys, exit surveys, training needs analysis surveys, staff 'pulse' surveys, and 'new starter' feedback surveys ... to name a few popular uses.

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Upon completing the form below, a PeoplePulse representative will contact you to discuss your needs and current situation. From there we will set up your demo and arrange a suitable time to show the system to you:

Please be assured that your correspondence with us is confidential. We will not divulge email addresses or any other details you provide to outside sources.

The above demonstration request form was powered by PeoplePulse.

Article wWritten by Martin Day
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