Many factors affect employee performance. Knowledge, skills, and capabilities are all of paramount importance. However, there are other drivers of poor performance, such as disengagement and dissatisfaction. Surfacing this information can be challenging, particularly when management focuses on high-level performance metrics and does not delve into the murky world of employee satisfaction. The humble employee satisfaction survey is still one of the most effective ways of staying on top of this.
The good news is that the right tools can enable you to identify these performance-sapping problems and even address them. Employee satisfaction surveys are invaluable tools in your performance management efforts, but you must understand them to use them effectively. Otherwise, they can be a waste of time and effort, and even increase dissatisfaction if employees feel that their feedback is not being taken seriously or acted upon.
Why Does Satisfaction Matter?
Employee satisfaction is one of the primary drivers of performance. However, it also affects retention, morale, productivity, and so much more. With high satisfaction ratings, employees perform better, stay with the company longer, and are overall happier. Dissatisfied employees, on the other hand, drag down performance and productivity, and may ultimately cost the company money through churn.
Obviously, keeping satisfaction levels high is ideal. However, doing that can be challenging. What actually drives satisfaction in the first place?
What Drives Employee Satisfaction?
Your workforce is varied – people have their own ideas about what is good or bad, what they want and don’t want, and more. However, when it comes to employee satisfaction, there are some common drivers that apply across the board. These include the following:
- Feeling that they are being treated with respect
- Believing that they have job security
- Seeing a career path with the employer
- Feeling empowered to make decisions
- Seeing accountability within the workplace
- Being recognized for their performance and contributions
What Benefits Does the Employer Receive?
Creating an environment that bolsters employee satisfaction can require a great deal of work, planning, and effort. What does your organization stand to gain from doing so? Satisfied employees do their jobs, do them well, and make the desired contributions. They power growth and the ability to compete through sustained high performance and deep engagement.
If they do not achieve those goals, though, then all of your efforts to create a more satisfying work experience are wasted. Obviously, employers need to see a return on their investment, but that can be hard to do with something as ephemeral and intangible as satisfaction. This is why employee satisfaction is such an important part of the performance management toolbox.
How to Use Employee Satisfaction Surveys
Employee satisfaction surveys can be short and sweet or they can cover things in greater depth. They can also land somewhere in the middle depending on your goals and needs. In all situations, they should be anonymized – conducting them through your performance management system can help ensure that this is the case, while providing HR with a centralized location for all survey answers, which makes it easier to spot trends and home in on critical details.
Your surveys can use any number of structures, but there are two more commonly used than others. One is to ask employees to rate their level of satisfaction with a particular topic or area of concern on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most satisfied and 1 being the least satisfied. The other is to use open-ended questions that allow employees to share their thoughts in greater depth than what is possible with a graded scale. Combining the two can be even more effective and provide a flexible format for employees to provide feedback.
What topics should your employee satisfaction surveys cover? The sky’s the limit here, and each organization should tailor their surveys to their unique situations. There is also a lot of value in conducting varied satisfaction surveys to gauge satisfaction within specific departments, about the organization as a whole, and more. With that being said, some of the more commonly addressed or investigated areas where satisfaction plays an important role include the following:
- Effectiveness of management – Are employees satisfied with management’s effectiveness and ability to handle day-to-day responsibilities?
- Understanding of the company’s mission – Does the employee understand the company’s mission and their role in it?
- Empowered by management – Do employees feel empowered to make decisions and operate autonomously?
- Level of teamwork – Are employees satisfied with the level of teamwork and collaboration?
- Communication – Are employees satisfied with the level and accuracy of communication between coworkers, managers, and others in the organization?
- Interactions and relationships with coworkers – Do employees feel that they are able to create strong, beneficial relationships with their coworkers? Are they satisfied with their interactions?
- Ability to solve customer problems – Do your employees feel that they are able to provide solutions to customer problems?
- Ability to deliver excellent service – Are your employees able to provide a great experience to customers every time?
- Leadership – Are employees satisfied with the level of leadership they receive?
- Ability to lead – Do employees feel that they are given the opportunity to lead others?
- Growth opportunities – Are employees satisfied with the level, number, and access to growth and development opportunities within the organization?
How often should you survey your employees? Too infrequently and you fail to gain access to critical information in a timely manner. Too often and you risk employees no longer taking them seriously, or skipping them simply because they have become so time-consuming. Every organization must choose its own schedule, but once per quarter would not be overkill.
Act on the Feedback
Finally, make sure you act on the feedback provided. The goal here is not just to measure employee satisfaction, but to define where they are the most dissatisfied so that you can change things. If you do not act, then everything else has been a waste.
Employee satisfaction is a huge driver of performance, which in turn drives organizational success. Using satisfaction surveys can help you pinpoint problem areas and take immediate action to change things.