One of the most important functions for any HR team, for businesses of all sizes, is collecting employee engagement feedback on the company’s performance and culture.
Making sure that your team is engaged, happy, and working well together is crucial for your bottom line. Not only will you boost retention rates and engender loyalty (bringing down your recruitment costs), but your employees will be more productive and will leave a better impression on customers.
The best way to measure how your employees and teams are feeling isn’t by bringing people in one-on-one for interviews (although that has its place), or by relying on machine-learning algorithms that measure things like email response time. It’s the employee survey.
Employee surveys have been around for a long time, but they’ve grown more sophisticated thanks to the advent of technology and a better understanding of how to write effective questions.
Here are five reasons why the simple act of asking for employee feedback via surveys is so important:
Giving employees a voice makes them feel valued
Sending out a survey to ask employees what the company is doing right or wrong doesn’t mean you commit to enacting every suggestion they offer. It means you are listening. And even this simple act can be enough to make them feel like active participants in the company’s future.
That’s because, as a study in Basic and Applied Social Psychology showed, having the opportunity to express your opinion about a decision isn’t dependent on “getting one’s way.” There’s an understanding among people that not everyone can get what they want—but knowing that the company hears their voice still satisfies them.
You can identify problem areas without violating trust
It’s difficult to bring people into an office setting and ask them to express concerns about their managers, or their colleagues—due to fear of blowback or reprisal. It’s a socially difficult task, and one that can result in broken trust if you out an employee’s opinion, even without meaning to.
On the other hand, there are plenty of affordable platforms (among other free tools that businesses should know about) that allow you to disseminate surveys and collect responses anonymously, with only demographic information (such as team) displayed.
This way, you can collect information on problem areas—if your sales team is generally happy, but your marketing team isn’t, for example—and focus your resources on figuring out the solution.
A survey is the most time-efficient solution
Time is money, and collecting information from employees in person-by-person interviews is time-consuming and, as we discussed above, potentially ineffective.
With a few clicks, you can send out an email blast to employees that they can complete in a few minutes on their own time. In order to encourage participation, offer a team-wide reward (such as a party, lunch, or even PTO) for reaching a certain response threshold. The data you’ll glean from your responses will be worth the investment.
You’ll measure improvement over time
By continuing to send out a standardized survey (with perhaps a few new questions to help measure new issues each time) on a regular basis, you can measure how effectively your company is implementing feedback from your employees over a period of time.
Seeing overall improvement in happiness and productivity? You’re on the right track. Remaining level or, perhaps, declining? You know that you still have plenty of work to do.
It can be tempting to discontinue employee surveys after receiving poor feedback the first couple of times around. But doing so misses the point of these surveys. You need fresh and relevant data to drive your decision-making.
Surveys can change people’s behavior
Reaching out to ask for people’s impressions and feedback doesn’t just give you information about past behaviors and results. It can actually drive change, affecting how people behave going forward.
That’s because asking people about their behavior invites reflection. If you ask them whether they want to take a more active role in improving the company morale, or advancing their career, or volunteering more outside of the office, you direct their attention to what they have, or haven’t been doing. Respondents to an internal Facebook survey became more committed to improve their work experience after being asked about it—regardless of what their original answer was.
Having these conversations, even in a survey setting, brings to light potential thoughts and actions that people didn’t even know they can have. It’s a useful, and effective, way to influence behavior without being overt.
The Bottom Line
A good company is one that recognizes that its employees help set the culture. In order to improve the experience for everyone—and to influence it in ways that you think would be most beneficial—ask for feedback, and do it with a survey. You may be surprised at the results, both in terms of what you see on the forms and how it affects the mood of the workplace going forward.
Guest Blogger: Eric Goldschein is an editor and writer at Fundera, a marketplace for small business financial solutions such as credit cards. He covers entrepreneurship, HR, marketing and small business trends.