Running Employee Opinion Surveys

Do your employees know the organisation values?  How engaged are your employees?  Do your employees know how to contribute to organisation success?  Sometimes the best way to know is simply to ask your employees for their views.

An employee opinion survey serves to give your employees a voice.  Not only can this improve employee engagement, but it can also provide access to a wealth of employee ideas by, uncovering the view of the ‘silent’ majority.  By acting on what your employees have to say, experience tells us that you can realise improved organisational performance, employee commitment, employee engagement and decreased turnover and absenteeism.

Through employee insights, your organisation can discover where to focus your efforts to achieve organisational growth by probing different people practices such as leadership, employee engagement and organisational culture.  You can also ascertain whether there are certain teams or sections with specific needs or whether opportunities for improvement are widespread; this allows you to take a more targeted approach to your people initiatives.

So where to start?  There are many reasons why engaging employees in your organisational development process is an important and valuable business practice, some of which we’ve highlight below.

Job Design and Role Clarity

Job Design and Role Clarity

Those employees with greater perceived ownership of their role are more engaged and outperform their peers.  Effective role design is achieved when those closest to the action are able to provide input to support the more strategic focus of line management.

Self-Efficacy and Capability

Self-Efficacy and Capability

Studies show that using self-efficacy assessments as a basis for establishing strategic learning and development programs delivers exponentially better performance improvement than traditional approaches to learning and development programming.

Organisational Effectiveness

Organisational Effectiveness

Who better to ask than those doing the work of the organisation for feedback on the critical drivers of business performance and employee engagement.

Not only can survey results provide valuable insights, but they can also act as a vehicle for change.  Surveys force respondents to reflect and answering yes to a question can constitute a commitment.  Reflection can lead to subconscious behavioural adjustments.

For example, in a recent study, it was found that surveying people on whether they would like to volunteer lead volunteering rates to spike to 31% from an initial 4%.

Research suggests that respondents desire consistency between their responses and behaviour and, interestingly, they will often adjust their behaviour to match their response.  Some of the more common types of employee surveys and their objectives are explored below along with an overview of the key steps we recommend when running employee opinion surveys of any kind.

Organisational Effectiveness

Organisational effectiveness surveys or designed to solicit feedback from across the workforce against the range of principles, processes and practices that are known to have the greatest impact on overall effectiveness.

The objective of these surveys is to pinpoint the interventions likely to deliver the greatest return on investment in terms of improvements in organisational performance and the underlying levels of employee engagement.

For example, at Mastertek we’ve developed a standardised organisational effectiveness questionnaire that builds on our practical experience of over two decades supporting organisations with employee opinion surveys and engagement strategies and has been carefully designed around the shared people principles and practices of high performing organisations all over the world.

You can find out more about our research into the shared traits of consistently higher-performing companies by clicking the link on the right.

Read more about employee engagement and organisational performance

The People Principles of High Performing Organisations

Culture Surveys

There is no direct way to quantify the importance of culture, so in order to understand its impact, businesses can use employee surveys to help track whether or not:

  • Employees share a common set of beliefs and priorities
  • Individual goals align with company goals
  • Employees take collective actions towards achieving those goals

A lack of consensus indicates areas that could use attention, while unity demonstrates a strong cohesive culture.  Measuring and decoding company culture is important because it can increase or erode employee engagement.  Accounting for it helps identify an organisation’s strengths as well as opportunities to improve and increase employee engagement.

Engagement Surveys

The focus of an engagement survey is on the employee’s perception of the company as a whole, and on how they feel about their job. Questions about pay and benefits, promotion opportunities and perceptions of leadership are common.  Employee engagement is a diagnostic tool used to help identify whether a company’s cultural practices are successful.  When measuring engagement, there are three distinct markers of highly engaged employees:

  • They speak positively about their organization – improving its reputation in their networks
  • They’re invested in their work – thereby striving to achieve organisational goals
  • They have higher retention rates – increasing the ROI on training and engagement initiatives

Job-Specific Diagnostics

Utilising job diagnostics surveys can help go beyond general opinions and employee feedback to focus in on specific job design and satisfaction levels as well as the relationship between these two key drivers of employee engagement.

These surveys seek to collect empirical data that can be used as a key input to job redesign and are typical utilised by organisations looking to:

  • Increase employee engagement levels in specific parts of the organisation
  • Reinvigorate and refocus teams leading to performance improvements
  • Design or redesign specific functions of the organisation to ensure optimum role design

Employee Self-Efficacy Studies

Research has consistently found a significant gap between the level of investment in training interventions and the actual absorption of the knowledge by trainees (the ‘Transfer of Training’).

Self-efficacy beliefs are the key characteristics influencing the transfer of training and have a huge impact on your organisation’s return on investment from training and development.

As a result,  taking a structured approach to employee surveys focused on their self-efficacy beliefs before, during and after training and development programs can provide several key indicators and benchmarks to support your organisational development strategies.

Required Response Rates

Beyond determining the specific objective of your survey, one of the first things we recommend considering are your expected and required response rates.

Whatever the purposes we recommend a response rate of at least 60% to ensure results are reliable.

To maximize the response rate the survey should be ‘marketed’ to all employees.  Before conducting the survey, employees should be well aware of why the survey is being conducted, the level of confidentiality and that there are no consequences for responses. Participation rates should be monitored while the survey is open and reminders to complete the survey should be sent if participation needs a boost.

To further boost participation you can consider offering an incentive, such as going in a draw to win something.

Participant Anonymity

Experience tells us that it can be somewhat a balancing act between anonymity and usefulness of results.  Although participants should remain anonymous, some demographic information can prove advantageous.  Incorporating questions such as the respondent’s business unit allows results, and therefore also your subsequent initiatives, to be more targeted.

If you’re worried that probing demographic insights will decrease participation rates, there is some indication that placing such questions at the end of the survey can reduce participant anxiety and increase response rates by about 8% from when they’re positioned at the beginning.

Confidentiality is highly important to ensure reliable and honest responses.  Despite your efforts, some employees may still worry about confidentiality.  Luckily there are some things you can do to minimize this.

Providing online and hard copy response options can not only increase participation rates but also decrease confidentiality concerns.  The prevalence of technology means that most people are aware that each computer has an individual ‘fingerprint’, causing fears that responses will be tracked.

Providing hard copy survey responses will encourage these employees to participate.  If there are widespread confidentiality concerns it might be worth considering a third party to conduct the survey.

Crunch The Numbers

Number crunching of survey results can be a daunting and tedious task for many people. This can mean responses sit around with no one prepared to face this task and analyse the results.

When preparing your survey consider how the results will be analysed, the focus should be on streamlining the analysis process.

If you don’t the exercise may be futile, not to mention that if employees don’t see action arising from their input, you risk them becoming cynical of any future surveys.

You will also find that by considering what you intend to do with the results before the survey, you are better able to design the survey to return what you need.

Working With Mastertek

Based on practical experience gained from almost two decades of supporting clients with their HR, performance and reward strategies we know that the support you need can vary.  That’s why we’ve developed a range of engagement options that can be tailored to ensure we provide the advice, guidance and level of hands-on support you need – when you need it.

We LOVE talking about organisation development, creating solutions to the human resourcing challenges faced by our clients.  Check out some of the ways we can assist with your employee engagement surveys or contact the team to discuss a discovery session to explore our standardised survey approaches.

Empoyee Insights

Empoyee Insights

For those with the internal capacity to drive survey participation and develop actionable responses to the survey findings, we can bring the MO-EQ survey to you in an easy to access online format ready to roll out as soon as you’re ready.

From there we monitor response rates to assist in the ongoing promotion of the study.  Finally, our team will prepare your results dashboard and detailed reports to enable internal review and action planning.

Engagement Strategies

Engagement Strategies

Our team are experts in the design, development and implementation of effective employee engagement strategies.

Should you require our assistance we can facilitate action planning based on the interventions that will have the greatest impact in your organisational context.

Change Management

Change Management

As consultants, we live and breathe best practice project management.

Our team can provide the extra capacity that’s often required to drive change and we partner with your leadership team to help ensure that what was designed is what gets implemented.

Knowing where to start with employee engagement can be challenging – we’re here to help.

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