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What is an Employee Satisfaction Survey?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2016
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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An employee satisfaction survey is one method for employers to discover how employee-centered their business is. Such a survey, which is usually conducted anonymously, gauges the level of employee contentment by asking questions of employees on a number of fronts that could have to do with training, development, effective management, lack of discrimination, compensation, and work environment or peer relationships. Many employers look to these surveys especially if they are having difficulty retaining workers, but they may also be interested in hearing from employees to get ideas on how to improve relationships between employees and employers.

There are lots of different ways in which an employee satisfaction survey might be conducted. Often the employer works with people like independent human resource consultants who actually administer the survey and then interpret the results for the company. A slightly less expensive approach is to conduct online surveys where findings suggest certain pre-determined remedies. When companies can afford the more expensive scenario, it may prove most helpful because any solutions will be tailored to the specific company and its employees.

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One of the things of greatest concern to an employee who is asked to participate in a survey is whether results will be kept confidential. In the best surveys they are confidential, but anyone concerned about this should get verification, preferably in writing, that negative comments on an employee satisfaction survey cannot be use in punitive ways. When a company is truly interested in increasing satisfaction, they should hear not just good reviews but also bad ones. With only positive comments, they will have nothing to improve. To get these results, employers should use surveys that guarantee confidentiality of responses, or they may just end up with dishonest statements that aren't productive.

The quality of the employee satisfaction survey is probably best determined by how it helps the company make improvements that increase satisfaction. When employers aren’t willing to make real changes, there isn’t much point in having a survey. Employees tend to know what their co-workers have to say about work, and most can identify several problem areas creating things like poor worker retention. If they don’t see such areas improved over time after a survey, retention could sink lower, though other factors like a poor job market may keep workers at jobs they really don’t like.

While an employee satisfaction survey should lead to improvements in the workplace, individual employees also need to be realistic about what improvements they’ll see. What gets improved depends on number of employees that all listed a mutual concern. One individual may have legitimate grievances with an employer that not everyone else shares, and the employer’s failure to address individual concerns is usually because they are trying to take the steps that would satisfy the most employees at once. Workers who feel comfortable in their work environment might attempt to address legitimate personal issues with management.

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