In a competitive world with the need for businesses to be more streamlined and productive a company can often find itself with a workforce working under pressure resulting in low moral and high staff turnover. The benefits of a company having a highly motivated workforce can be considerable and the two goals of having a workforce that is both motivated and productive should not be regarded as being mutually exclusive to one another.
Left unattended employers run the risk of alienating their employees, events can cause employee frustrations to boil over resulting in employers finding themselves on the back foot, faced with a problem that cannot be ignored.
Ideally employers would take time to understand the needs of their employees and learn from their experiences of working on the front line, but employers are often themselves tied up day to day fighting their own fires.
By automating much of the intelligence gathering process and providing the findings in a format that can be readily analysed online surveys provide employers with an efficient, effective and low cost method to help achieve a pleasant working environment, where staff satisfaction and productivity is high.
Dissatisfied & Unproductive
The are many reasons why employees may be dissatisfied with their job and more often than not staff frustration is channelled into a demand for higher salaries and less hours. Employers who tackle these issues head on, making it all about salary and hours, will often find themselves dealing with the symptoms and not the root cause.
It's not about Money
The following are common barriers to achieving productivity, none of which are likely to be resolved by increasing salaries or reducing hours:-
• Inadequate training
• Out of touch management
• Out of date working methods
• Lack of proper tools and equipment
Many studies have shown that salaries are rarely the number one priority of employees and providing an employer is paying market rate they would be fundamentally wrong to think that paying higher salaries is the answer to all employee problems.
Take the case of a single mother who is juggling a full time job with the need to look after two children. Out of frustration she may demand more money so that she feels that she is able to cope where a better solution, for both her and the company, may be more flexible working hours.
It is About Communication
It is important for any company to encourage communication. Company's that make communication between personnel and management difficult, or take the view that if personnel have a problem they will say something, can often delude themselves into thinking their workforce is content when it is not. It only takes one small problem and one disgruntled employee to feel aggrieved for an entire workforce to develop a destructive 'them and us' attitude.
One to one meetings between employer and employee would be ideal but in practice only practical for very small businesses.
Regular meetings between management and worker representatives are good in theory but they often become talking shops and can begin to loose their edge as the participants become familiar with one another and the forum runs the risk of being hijacked by the more extrovert personalities.
Suggestion boxes are useful but can be viewed as token efforts by management as they wait for personnel to highlight a problem.
Newsletters can be a positive step, but their purpose is generally to inform and not discuss issues.
Keeping the Initiative
An employee satisfaction survey run on a regular basis is able to ask each employee specific questions and represents a pro-active management initiative where the whole workforce can be consulted on various issues. Surveys are able to provide a level playing field between the quieter and more vocal employees.
Consultation should not be seen as a sign of weakness, a confident manager will take counsel from all quarters before making a decision. By issuing a survey and keeping the initiative the employer is able to tackle problems from a position of strength as opposed to waiting for problems to fester and then develop out of proportion.
Small problems left unresolved can lead to a situation where a minor problem might break the camels back and the workforce mood change from positive to negative over night.
It's Quick and Easy
For the majority of companies online surveys represent a proactive and low cost solution. They are quick to design and for many companies, where the majority of personnel have desktop computers, they are quick to deploy direct to the individual.
In situations where individuals do not have personal access to a computer there are still many options available to implement the online survey solution such as giving access to a shared computer, operator input or, as a last resort, a hardcopy survey.
There are many elements that go towards providing an employee with job satisfaction, from the working environment, working methodology, working ethos, company ethics to having good and effective management. Job satisfaction brings benefits through improved motivation and productivity from a workforce that feels that they are treated as individuals and not a commodity item.
Inform and Educate
An online survey can also be used to educate and pass on to the workforce important information, the 'message' is consistently delivered and does not suffer from the Chinese whisper phenomenon where a message can be distorted as it is handed down.
An online survey can explain a difficult situation and get valuable feedback from the employees as to the best solution. It is rare in this situation that the workforce would appear negative and more likely that they will feel informed and empowered that might in itself turn a potentially negative problem into a positive challenge that unites the workforce.
Exit surveys are an excellent way of ensuring that when personnel leave an organisation they are leaving for the right reasons and not due to reasons that if appreciated earlier could have been addressed and resolved by management. Although identifying a problem may not prevent a person leaving it could solve an unappreciated issue that may, if left unchecked, result in other key personnel also leaving.
Analysing the Results
Having consulted the workforce with an online survey the results are available for instant analysis. Common and specific problems can be easily identified and brought to the attention of senior management who will then have the opportunity to address the issues that have been raised.
Used regularly online surveys represent a simple and productive method of taking the pulse of an organisation and an easy way to establish a two way communication channel between employer and employee with the results providing management with vital, accurate and significant information.
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