An effective staff survey will open a window
into workers minds, letting in refreshing ideas on how
to improve problem areas in your organization. Meanwhile,
a poorly constructed or implemented survey can do more harm
than good by creating unrealistic expectations and highlighting
managements inability to address concerns. Here are
seven survey pitfalls and how to avoid them:
1. Magic-wand syndrome.
Employers believe that employee dissatisfaction or other issues
will disappear once workers voice their opinions. But that
is not the case. Your organization must be ready to make dramatic
changes or morale will plummet. By surveying workers on issues
your company has no plans to resolve or making no changes,
you will only decrease morale. The best way to avoid the magic-wand
syndrome is to understand that giving employees the opportunity
to vent wont make the problem disappear; management
must be ready to take action.
2. Passive workers.
The staff believes management is responsible for fixing organizational
problems and is waiting for it to fail. Building successful
companies requires the efforts of all employees. Your staff
must be willing to work with management to improve the company,
and organizations should continually solicit input from workers
and involve them in resolving problems.
3. Mixed signals regarding confidentiality.
To increase participation, employers promise to keep results
confidential. But then they require workers to include their
contact information to qualify for incentives for completing
surveys. Doing so compromises the surveys integrity
and gives the wrong message to your work force. Instead, consider
providing a benefit (such as some time off) if a high enough
percentage of employees participate.
4. Faulty surveys.
Employers ask the wrong questions or offer inadequate response
choices, yielding little information. Suppose you asked workers,
How satisfied are you with your job and the majority
responded, Dissatisfied. Unless you also learn
why theyre unhappy, you wont know how or where
you should make improvements. Focus on your objectives for
the survey and construct questions to provide you with the
details you need to address your survey goals.
5. Unrealistic expectations.
Raising issues that you are unprepared to address is a recipe
for disaster. For instance, if you survey workers on compensation,
but have no plans to change it, youll only frustrate
your employees. Workers also think that because of the survey,
management will solve every issue right away. Help your staff
better understand the survey process by involving them in
the survey design and creating a timeline for acting on the
results. Be honest with your staff. Let them know that youll
immediately handle some matters, but others will take more
time and you may not be able to resolve some.
6. A one-track mind.
Companies ask too many questions about one topic, causing
employees to assume that this particular area is more important
than others. For example, if the majority of questions are
about the companys pay structure and employee benefits,
your staff may mistakenly believe that the organization will
be making significant changes in the total compensation program.
Address topics equally unless you are looking to focus on
one particular part of your business.
7. Failure to benchmark.
Businesses ignore the bigger picture. If you benchmarked your
results against similar companies you might find, for
example, that a low score on satisfaction with employee management
may be the norm or workers often rate pay as needs significant
improvement. Comparing information to previous surveys
you conducted or against other businesses results will
provide a broader look at problem areas.
Companies who choose to do employee surveys should do them
annually. This will enable you to track your progress. Using
a third-party to conduct your survey will provide you with
unfiltered information. Regardless of how often you survey
your work force, evaluate your process. Ensure it drives business
results, generates information you can use to improve your
company and gives employees feedback about upcoming changes
or ways they can improve the organization. After all, your
workers need to know that management is listening when they
speak and that change is possible.
Written by Roberta Chinsky
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staff survey tool:
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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Roberta Chinsky Matuson is President of Human Resource Solutions
(http://www.yourhrexperts.com) and has been helping companies
align their people assets with their business goals. She is
considered an expert in generational workforce issues. Roberta
publishes a monthly newsletter HR Matters http://www.yourhrexperts.com/hrjoin.cgi
which is jammed with resources, articles and tips to help
companies navigate through sticky and complicated HR workforce
issues. She can be reached at 413-582-1840 or Roberta@yourhrexperts.com.