Our survey says...

Scan CaptureEmployee surveys have been around for many years but until fairly recently they were largely designed to provide employers with an overview of workforce satisfaction.

It became accepted that a satisfied workforce was a motivated workforce.

But more recently, surveys have developed into an essential business tool and they are an ideal way of both measuring employee engagement and understanding what is driving it, and now is the right time to make sure their people are on board.

Sarah Johnson, Partner Survey Manager at the John Lewis Partnership believes that whatever the wider economic picture, their annual Partner Survey remains a unique opportunity for Partners and managers to improve the business and be the best.

To achieve this John Lewis spoke to us to track data trends year-on-year dating back to the first survey that we did for them in 2003.

Employee surveys should impact on your business, and the best way to do this is to ask questions that will make a difference which, in turn, means understanding the business context when starting on a new or repeat survey.

Getting the best out of employee surveys
1. Know why you are doing an employee survey and what you want to get out of it.

2. Make sure you have all managers on-side by linking the survey to performance. This could be the performance of the business as a whole or that of individual managers.

3. Plan your research timetable and build it into the business cycle.

4. Confidentiality and anonymity are of utmost importance and for this reason we suggest that all surveys should be returned directly to an independent agency and not to the employer. This ensures great confidence on the part of respondents and will lead to greater honesty in answering the questions and to a higher response rate.

5. Develop a meaningful action plan and feed data and results back to staff directly or through focus groups. The results should be available soon after the surveys have been completed, otherwise you’ll lose credibility.

6. Market Research Society guidelines restrict the analysis to workgroups of not less than 10 individuals and measurement can be assessed by a range of different criteria to help understand where the root of any issues lie such as department, staff grade, length of employment, gender or other relevant classification.

Whilst there is intense pressure to cut costs at the moment a good, low cost system of employee research can yield huge benefits to an organisation looking to harness the talents of its workforce.

Steve Smith, managing director, ScanCapture.