Employee Satisfaction Surveys

Since so many organizations use employee surveys, it seems important to talk a bit about analyzing the results of those surveys

Employee surveys can be very helpful.

  • When you know what is working, you can build upon your successes.
  • When you discover where problems exist, you will be able to take corrective action.
  • Keep in mind that, often, instead of providing answers, surveys just create more questions. Ask yourself what the results mean. For instance, if only 25 percent of employees believe they get appropriate recognition, why is that true? Did respondents understand the statement as it was intended? Can they tell you what would make recognition more appropriate? To find the answers, follow up with one-on-one interviews.

Never make assumptions about what the survey results mean.
Follow up until you have a complete understanding
of why respondents answered the way they did.
Otherwise, you’re likely to misinterpret the results.

Case Study
Consider one consulting firm’s satisfaction survey that included these three statements related to recognition.

(1) Teams are recognized for their contributions to improving how we work. Eighty-two percent responded favorably to this state­ment, a good response.

(2) Individuals are recognized for their contributions to improving how we work. Seventy-six percent responded favorably, still a pretty good rating.

(3) How satisfied are you with the recognition you get?  Only 56 percent responded favorably to this state­ment. This low response rate should have been a red flag for the firm.

The burning question should have been why are only 56 percent of respondents satisfied with the recognition they get? The people analyzing the consult­ing firm’s results assumed this question scored low because of a compensation and benefits issue. Their assumption may have been true, but because most employees don’t consider compensation and benefits to be recognition, it’s very likely that the firm’s assumption was wrong. Without follow-up conversations or a new survey to separate recognition from compensation and benefits, they will never know for sure.

Forty-four percent of their employees expected to be recognized more effectively. Unless this firm finds out why these employees are dissatisfied, they aren’t likely to improve the rating. If anything, people will become more dissatisfied because the survey raised their expectation for change and then change didn’t occur.

Remember, that surveys rarely provide answers. They create more questions, questions that require further exploration.

Copyright Cindy Ventrice


2 Responses to “Employee Satisfaction Surveys”

  1. Lynn Hunsaker August 4, 2008 12:32 pm

    It’s human nature to rally around the most positive feedback from surveys, and to dismiss the less-than-positive responses. Yet the biggest ROI from any kind of survey comes from embracing the constructive criticism. This requires a sincere willingness to learn — from someone else’s viewpoint — what could be done to take things to the next level of effectiveness. It’s a habit that can be nurtured, and a culture that can be developed, if you want to really get your money’s worth from survey efforts. Allowing open-ended responses within your employee survey for ratings that are less than mid-point of the rating scale is one way to get at the heart of low ratings. Focus groups and/or personal interviews drilling down on the low-rated items can also provide actionable input for reversing the less favorably rated situations.

    – Lynn Hunsaker, http://www.ClearAction.biz, mentors executives in acting on surveys, developing leading indicators and team recognition strategies, and developing trusted advisor skills.

  2. ZoomerangBlog December 30, 2008 7:22 pm

    Thanks for sharing your insights. Employee satisfaction is crucial to any businesses success and online surveys are a great tool in getting the feedback you need to hear. With that in mind, Zoomerang created the Employee Survey Resource Center
    with templates you can customize as well as tips and suggestions for both survey creation and deployment. There are also some informative posts on the topic published on the Zoomerang blog