Employee Surveys: A Valuable Retention Tool

As anticipated improvement in the nation’s economy drives job growth in the year ahead, many organizations are once again concerned about protecting their most valuable asset — their star performers. In addition, those same companies are hoping to recruit only the best people to fill their open positions.

If approached correctly, employee surveys can be a highly effective tool for learning what it takes to attract and retain top talent in your organization. By seeking and acting on employee feedback, employers can drive positive changes in morale, processes, productivity, innovation, and even customer satisfaction.

Here are some tips for getting the most out of employee surveys:

  • Determine Satisfaction Criteria to Measure: Your survey can be designed to glean employees’ opinions on numerous issues ranging from benefits, advancement, and supervisory guidance to coworker/team cooperation, communications, training programs, bottlenecks, job stress, and much more. Because it’s not possible to measure all criteria in one survey, management should clearly define the objectives of the survey based on the organization’s needs and unique circumstances.
  • Rely on the Experts: Professional researchers will help you develop a clear, concise, and user-friendly survey instrument that utilizes reliable response indicators. They’ll also determine the best method(s) for collecting the data based on the audience to be surveyed. (For example, an email or web-based survey isn’t optimal for employees who work in a plant without their own workstations.) And, their analysis will include actionable recommendations. Furthermore, utilizing a third party to conduct and analyze the survey underscores the organization’s commitment to confidentiality, which is critical to employees providing honest and candid responses.
  • Commit to Corrective Action Plans: The organization must be willing to act on at least some of the feedback provided. In fact, if the employees feel that their feedback fell on deaf ears and no improvements are forthcoming, the research effort will likely damage rather than improve morale, trust, and productivity. Keep the survey focused on areas in which management is willing and able to implement changeââ?¬â?and then take definitive actions on the feedback in a timely manner.
  • Don’t Stop at One Survey: A one-time snapshot of employee satisfaction will not prove useful for the long term. Rather, employers must take the pulse of the organization consistently over time and establish metrics for gauging changes in perceptions and beliefsââ?¬â?both positive and negative.
  • Communicate, Communicate, Communicate: Utilize emails and staff meetings to tell employees why the organization is conducting the survey, assure confidentiality, and encourage participation. Share planned improvements that result from the feedback. Explain why certain things cannot changeââ?¬â?employees can be more accepting when they have a holistic business understanding of certain issues and conditions. (Be discerning about which survey results and plans are shared, as you can assume that information will end up with competitors.)

If your organization is hesitant about opening up the proverbial Pandora’s Box with ongoing employee surveys, consider what Norman Vincent Peale, author of “The Power of Positive Thinking,” said: “The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.”

This article was written by Kathy Albarado, President of Helios HR (formerly HR Concepts). Helios HR is committed to helping organizations establish an enhanced human resource infrastructure allowing them to attract, retain and engage an exceptional workforce.
www.helioshr.com (703) 860-3882

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