Employee satisfaction surveys: The ROI of heeding constructive criticism

by Melany Gallant | Posted | Engagement

Employee satisfaction surveys: The ROI of heeding constructive criticism

Hey employers! What would happen if you approached employee job satisfaction with the same attentiveness as customer satisfaction?

Research has shown that it costs 5 to 7 times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to retain an existing one.

Well, retaining employees is just as worthwhile. The numbers show that developing and retaining existing employees is far more valuable and profitable than attracting new ones.

Dr. Bob Nelson, president of Nelson Motivation, Inc. and an authority on employee recognition , says that if you look at the 100 Best Places to Work in America, companies with motivated employees have a 233 percent higher financial return over a six year period than overall market returns.

When you look at the alignment of employee satisfaction with shareholder return–there’s a 700 percent greater return!

Engaged employees feel satisfied; they like their job, they like their boss, they like their coworkers, they enjoy their work, their morale is high, they feel empowered, and because of this–they do a better job.

The ticket to engaging your employees? Make sure they’re satisfied. As one Decision-Wise article puts it:

“Employee satisfaction is the minimum entry fee that needs to be met in order for an employee to be fully engaged”.

Why measure employee job satisfaction?

There are a number of great reasons:

  • To strengthen employee engagement
  • To increase employee retention
  • To make things like training programs, employee orientation initiatives, and employee communications more effective
  • To improve the quality of the work environment, boost productivity, and ROI!

Creating the employee satisfaction survey

You’ve heard the saying: “Your people will only treat your customers as well as they are being treated”. So if you want satisfied customers, you have to make sure they’re served by satisfied, passionate people.

Businesses are relentlessly tugging on their customers’ sleeves for insights about their products and services. (You’ve probably been prompted by at least one survey pop-up this week while visiting a website.) There’s just as big an opportunity for getting candid feedback from those closest to the company: your employees.

By constructing a brief, yet purposeful satisfaction survey, you can discover what your employees believe your strengths and weaknesses are–and what makes them loyal (or not) to the company.

Effective employee satisfaction survey questions should be:

  • Timely, brief, meaningful, and easy to fill out (for an example of the opposite, see this video)
  • Presented in a way that gives the employee the time and inclination to respond (ask questions about job functions, team, immediate supervisor, organizational goals, business processes, etc.)
  • Centered on obtaining information that will truly help enhance your company’s performance (work environment, training programs, communication channels, opportunities and incentive system).

Improving employee satisfaction has a direct impact on top talent retention

When employees, and top talent in particular, feel that they can influence their workplace, they feel part of an intrinsically rewarding environment; it makes them want to remain with the organization for the long haul.

Look at what employees had to say about the companies listed in Glassdoor.com’s 2013 Best Places to Work Top 50 Winners. Employee satisfaction, engagement and retention are inherently impacted by people, the work environment, the culture, the challenge, and the opportunity to do meaningful work.

By conducting regular employee satisfaction surveys as part of your overall talent management processes, you reinforce your commitment to employees and to the company.

You provide “ears” in the workplace that offer employees a structured time and place to voice opinions about:

  • their job responsibilities and work conditions
  • relationships with colleagues and superiors
  • advancement opportunities, and more.

Turning employee feedback into results

What you do with the data collected by your survey questions, and how you act on it, will determine the return on your human capital investment. Letting your employees know that their feedback will be received positively and acted on is crucial to driving engagement.

When employees see that their organization acts on survey results, they recognize surveys as an effective means of achieving change.

With this point in mind, here are the core elements of an effective employee satisfaction initiative:

  • Use the right tools: Determine survey methods (electronic questionnaire/paper-based, conducted through third party vendor) as well as your data collection and analysis tools.
  • Analyze results (positive and negative): Identify high and low satisfaction themes. Identify reasons for low satisfaction levels. Read suggestions and observations provided by employees. Hold brainstorming sessions or focus groups to determine the possible causes of dissatisfaction and ways to solve these issues.
  • Create an action plan: Prioritize reported areas of dissatisfaction and develop corrective action plans for each.
  • Act on results: Disseminate results and actions plans to the organization in a timely manner. Communicate first with managers, and then share the information with employees.
  • Do a follow-up survey: Conduct another satisfaction survey after a reasonable time period has elapsed to review the status and feasibility of corrective actions.
  • Repeat

Creating a satisfied and engaged workforce requires ongoing time, effort and energy. But when you have fully engaged employees driving the performance of your organization, the value they return far exceeds the expenditures this requires.

For more on how to build an engaged, high-performing workforce, visit our employee engagement center of excellence.

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