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— April 1, 2020

Time to check the pulse: how to create and conduct an employee satisfaction survey

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Divna Blažev Human Resources Associate

Researching employee satisfaction has been a key part of Degordian’s work culture since the early beginnings, and the feedback we’ve gotten throughout the years proved to be extremely valuable. But since curiosity is one of our main values, it’s only natural we kept searching for new ways to improve existing processes, then decided to develop a new model of our employee satisfaction survey based on a questionnaire created by ourselves.

The process of coming up with a new survey started with initial research of the field, continued with a few brainstorming sessions, then ended with getting back to the survey itself. During the process, we asked ourselves the following questions:

What are the new trends in employee satisfaction research?

What are the needs of Degordian?

What do we want to find out from the employees?

How do we carry out the whole process?

How can we fit this into our existing work culture and values?

Answering these questions helped define the goal of the project and create a bigger image of what we want to do. After that came the actual creation of the questionnaire for the survey, named Stetoskop. If you want to know how the whole thing rolled out, carry on reading! 🙂

Why Stetoskop?

We think that all internal projects should somehow reflect the fundamental values and the essence of our work culture, which is why we decided to name the survey Stetoskop. Like the stethoscope, it is also a tool designed for listening — in this case, listening to what employees have to say

Since branding is an integral part of our services, this was also done as sort of a mini branding by our Creative department, who were responsible for creating the name and the logo of the survey. The goal was to make it recognizable among employees and ensure that they associate it with Degordian (hence the resemblance with the agency logo).

What’s engagement got to do with it?

After the initial research and brainstorming phase was done, we decided that the main focus of Stetoskop would be the employee engagement, a very current topic in the field of employee satisfaction surveying.

So, what is employee engagement? It’s the will and desire to invest more than what’s expected of you. Employees who are highly engaged are also satisfied, but the opposite isn’t necessarily true — satisfied employees don’t also have to be highly engaged.

We decided to focus on employee engagement since it’s very similar to another one of Degordian values: passion. 

We love what we do and our work truly is more than a job. From this love comes the dedication, devotion and enthusiasm that drives us to always go that extra mile and never settle on anything less but outstanding.”

Dedication, enthusiasm, loving what you do — it all relates back to being engaged, so engagement quickly turned out to be the exact thing we wanted to find more about. Once we defined what our focus was, it was time to create the questionnaire. The questions are in the form of statements, and the person responding needs to answer using the 5-point Likert scale (ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree). Here are some examples of the statements:

  • My department leader regularly provides feedback on my work.
  • Employees in my department work collaboratively and act as a team.
  • I feel like I belong here.

The flow of the process

The questionnaire was sent out to both full-time employees and interns. It was important we send a clear message that everyone’s opinion matters, regardless of their position, status, gender, age or any other traits — everyone has the chance to participate in creating our collective future. 

Since the survey dealt with a sensitive topic, it’s important that HR (or whoever else is handling the project) is available for all sorts of questions and dilemmas. Our department leaders also had an important role during the survey period, because they served as ambassadors of the project, telling everyone how important it is to participate and promoting the key messages and value of the whole project.

After the data was collected, we conducted various quantitative and qualitative analyses and validated the metric characteristics of the test, which basically means making sure that your instrument (the questionnaire) really measures what you want it to measure, and does it reliably. As an extra step, we profiled employees into 4 different categories of employee engagement. All the results were presented to all our colleagues.

We’re proud to say that the participation rate was 92%, which is excellent considering that it was a completely voluntary activity. That means that 92% of all employees realized the value of the project and then had the chance to honestly share their thoughts, suggestions and helped the growth of Degordian. The collected data was used to define an action plan, but also as an insight into how our colleagues really feel in terms of satisfaction, which might help in better decision-making and defining future strategies for working with employees.

Employee satisfaction and global coronavirus pandemic

In the long term, this type of research can give you quality longitudinal data and serve as a valuable database for analysing and predicting future trends in the company.

The field of marketing, as well as marketing agencies, tend to have quite a dynamic and unpredictable pace, with ever-evolving and changing trends. Having a database that mirrors the specific context of your agency can be especially important if your already dynamic field encounters an unpredictable crisis, such as the one we have now with the coronavirus pandemic and the earthquake in Zagreb. In difficult times like these, it gets even more crucial that you listen to those that are the true essence of every company — it’s employees.

8 tips if you want to implement your own employee satisfaction survey

If you also want to create a special questionnaire for your employee satisfaction survey, start by thinking a little bit about the following questions:

  • What do you want to find out from the employees?
  • How do you want to get to the answers?
  • How do you fit this into the existing culture and values of the company?
  • How will the whole process look like and who will be involved?
  • How do you communicate the project to the employees?
  • What are you planning to do with the collected data?
  • What is your long-term goal?

Brainstorming

Don’t stop after getting an answer to these questions. Carry on brainstorming — you’re the one who’s aware of the company’s circumstances, what matters and what makes sense for your needs.

Get others involved

If possible, get other employees involved. Right at the beginning, we asked our colleagues what they thought about certain aspects of the questionnaire. Involving others in the creation of the survey gives you the benefit of seeing things from another point of view and potentially add things that will make the whole project even better.

Communication is key

Communication is essential during the whole process. Everything needs to be transparent, employees need to know that their participation is voluntary and that you’ll provide them anonymity. Employees also need to know why you’re carrying out the survey, which information you need to share with them.

Actually do something

It seems like obvious advice, but a lot of companies make the mistake of repeating the surveys year after year without ever actually doing something with them. The biggest value of this type of research is what happens after it — when you sit down with the collected data and see what further activities you can carry out.

This leads us to the next step: working on an action plan. It’s necessary to communicate this aspect of the research to the employees and tell them that we’re asking for their opinion because we truly want to implement their ideas. Also, another mistake companies often do is not letting employees see the results of the survey. They deserve to know what the state of current work satisfaction is like in the company, so provide them with answers!

Creating an action plan

Make sure to collaborate with the department leaders while outlining the action plan. They’re the ones who know their team best and the ones who know how to carry out certain changes. Another important thing is to define exact time frames for the implementation of each step you want to make and act according to the defined deadlines.

Pulse-check

Have a shorter survey 6 months after the first one to check the state of the dimensions that we’re initially showing bad results. A pulse-check like this helps see if the action plan is going in the right direction or if some eventual changes are needed.

The long-term value of the project

The project will prove to be an excellent investment if you make it a continuous and repeated effort. If you’re going to continually carry out the survey, after a certain period of time you’ll have your own database of longitudinal data that reflects your situation, and offers valuable insight for tracking trends that might help you realize potential opportunities and/or threats for the company.

Also, be flexible

Be flexible during the whole process. The world is constantly changing, so try to adjust your research to the current situation, follow trends, talk to other experts in the field and be open to feedback.

Even if you aren’t creating your own questionnaire, but conducting an already established employee satisfaction survey, make sure you adapt it to the circumstances, needs and values of your company. Finally, always remember that people are the most valuable part of any company, and your mission is to make them heard.