Good managers understand that happy workers are productive workers. On the flip side, low morale can lead to poor cooperation and communication, increased turnover, sub-par customer service, and a lower bottom line. It’s not rocket science that there is a proven correlation between employee morale and productivity.
Managers have numerous avenues to raise morale – from promoting from within to offering fringe benefits such as on-site massage – but one of the fastest routes to a happier workplace is understanding the issues within your company and fixing them. To find out what these issues are, go to the people directly affected by them: your employees.
To stay on top of the pulse of their employees, many companies are now using — appropriately named — Pulse Surveys, a monthly or quarterly survey that allows employees, anonymously or not, to respond to questions, provide feedback, vent about poor practices, and suggest changes. Of course, if you aren’t prepared to deal with the results, a survey can do more harm than good.
“Surveys alone don’t change anything. People and sound workplace practices do,” states experts at BlessingWhite, a global consulting firm that focuses on helping organizations maximize the productivity and efficiency of their employees.
Laying the Groundwork
So, you think surveys are a good idea, but how do you begin? You need buy-in from management, someone to own the surveys and their process, and a plan on how to respond. Quantum Workplace, a company founded in 2002 to deliver employee engagement tools, suggests these five steps:
- Start with purpose.
- Define your survey items.
- Define your target audience.
- Select a frequency that matches your purpose.
- Do something.
Best Questions to Ask
You’ve done your groundwork and are ready to set up the surveys. What questions should you ask?
Other than identifiers (“What department are you in,” etc.), the questions many businesses find most useful are:
- How do you feel about coming to work every morning?
- Does your manager inspire you?
- Has your manager given you constructive feedback in the last month?
- Do you have the tools to enable you to do your job effectively?
- Have you had the opportunity to develop your skills in the last month?
- Do you feel that your team is given clear priorities?
- Do you have the opportunity to contribute to decisions that affect you?
- Has your workload been acceptable the past month?
- Do you trust the information you receive?
- Do you feel valued for the work you do?
Use a sliding scale rather than questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no,” suggests the minds behind Melcrum, a firm dedicated to smarter internal communication. You’ll get deeper insight into how your employees feel.
Follow Up and Follow Through
One of the worst things you can do is ignore your survey results. “Neglecting survey results is a proven way to undermine engagement,” warn the survey pros at Gallup, a company with over 80 years experience in analytics. “Employees doubt the motives of managers who ask for their opinions, then don’t do anything with them. Employees expect and need resolution.”
Once a survey is completed, management needs to create action plans. Communicate the results and plans to your team quickly, along with who is responsible for each item. Include a mix of smaller, easily addressed concerns with long-term, bigger ticket issues. Addressing the smaller things keeps employees’ confidence in management strong while giving you time to act on the larger objectives.
By following through with your action plan, you are proving to your employees that their needs are important and their feedback is valued. When employees feel that they are being heard, their commitment to their work and workplace increases, improving morale and benefiting both your workers and your company.
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