I’ve always said that one of the worst things organizations can do is ask employees for their feedback and then do nothing with the information. As a human resources professional, this is one of the major gripes that employees have with employee surveys. (Side note: The length of time it takes to hear the survey results is another.)
The company wants employee feedback, so employees take the time to (honestly) complete the survey…and then nothing. Even if the company’s response is “We didn’t know this was an issue. We can’t address it immediately, but we will put this in our budget discussions for next year.” Let employees know that their feedback was heard.
But I want to talk a little bit about the topics that organizations include on surveys. I’ve always been of the opinion that organizations shouldn’t ask questions that they’re not prepared to deal with. Maybe that isn’t the way to look at it. Instead of avoiding issues or sending the message to employees that a topic is ‘off limits’, organizations should survey employees at least to get confirmation.
Let’s say that the company isn’t open to employees working from home. It would seem logical not to ask about the subject on an employee survey. The company isn’t going to do it, so don’t start a conversation knowing that the answer will be “no”. However, in today’s recruiting and retention market, maybe it’s time to ask that question. If 75 percent of employees want to work at home one day a week, maybe it’s time to companies to ask themselves, “Do we want to reconsider employee feedback?” Organizations might want to consider putting everything on the table.
Which leads to my other point about survey topics. Organizations might want to hold themselves accountable for knowing certain information about their workforce. For example:
- Are the company’s compensation practices internally equitable and externally competitive?
- Do employee’s respect each other?
- Does the company make investments into employee’s professional development?
Instead of asking employees if they’re happy with their compensation, shouldn’t the company already know that? I guess companies can ask the question to confirm that what they believe is true. But I still can’t help but wonder if there aren’t things that organizations should just be expected to know about the workforce. In the case of pay, HR should be getting survey data, managers should be speaking with employees about pay, and pay should be covered during exit interviews. (I know, there are a lot of “shoulds” in that sentence.)
Employee feedback is a valuable thing. Organizations shouldn’t waste the opportunity. Managers can’t keep their heads in the sand about workplace trends. Choose survey topics wisely.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the Wynwood Arts District in Miami, FL13