Companies need to ensure they are providing their employees with the tools, information and support they need to be successful at their jobs. One way companies gauge how well they meet their employees’ needs is through an annual employee survey. Employee surveys can provide companies useful insight about what makes their employees want to work there. For my next two posts, I will talk about the types of questions to include in an employee survey and demonstrate how those employee survey data can be analyzed to help you prioritize efforts to improve the quality of the employee relationship.
An effective employee survey needs to help senior executives measure and improve the health of the employee relationship. More specifically, the employee survey should help you:
- Measure critical components of the health of the employee relationship (e.g., employee loyalty, satisfaction with employee experience)
- Determine the primary causes of employee disloyalty
- Identify the right employee experience improvement solution(s) that will maximize ROI
- Understand how your work environment compares to other employers
The Employee Survey Helps your CEM Program
The service profit chain (see Figure 1) supports the idea that employees (as well as partners) are key to ensuring customer loyalty and business growth. As this model illustrates, business growth is dependent on customer loyalty (and perceived customer value and satisfaction), which is, in turn impacted by employee satisfaction/loyalty and partner satisfaction/loyalty. In fact, empirical studies have found that, in fact, employee satisfaction is related to customer satisfaction.
Customer Experience Management (CEM) programs often rely on the results of employee surveys to help improve the customer experience. Employee survey results can help companies improve as well as validate the customer experience management program. By using converging lines of evidence from both the employee and customer, companies can better pinpoint potential problem areas before they negatively impact the customer experience and customer loyalty. Additionally, by linking up these two data sources, companies can understand how to better manage the employee relationship to improve the customer experience.
The Optimal Employee Survey
Your optimal employee relationship survey needs to include questions that cover four areas:
- Employee Loyalty
- Employee Experience
- Relative Performance
- Company-Specific Questions (e.g., open-ended, demographics, targeted)
I will cover each type of question below.
1. Employee Loyalty
Employee loyalty questions reflect the degree to which your employees feel positively about and act positively toward your company. These questions typically reflect continued employment intentions, likelihood to recommend and overall satisfaction with the company. I typically use three loyalty questions:
- Overall satisfaction with [Company] as an employer. (0 – Extremely dissatisfied to 10 – Extremely dissatisfied)
- Likelihood to recommend [Company] to your friends as a place to work. (0 – Not at all likely to 10 – Extremely likely)
- Likelihood to leave [Company] within next 12 months. (0 – Not at all likely to 10 – Extremely likely)
Including different measures of customer loyalty allows you to create an overall Employee Loyalty Index (ELI) by averaging over the three items. All questions are coded so higher responses mean higher levels of employee loyalty (reverse code “likelihood to leave” question).
2. Employee Experience
This area of the survey is the meat of most employee surveys. The employee experience is the employee’s perception of, and attitude about, specific areas (employee experience dimensions) of your company. Employee experience questions ask the employees to rate various employee touch points.
While I am a big proponent of using general experience questions in customer surveys, don’t be too hesitant to ask employees mo questions about their experience. Employees spend a non-trivial amount time at work, thinking about work and, as a result, can form opinions about many different facets of their work environment.
I typically include specific employee experience questions related to the following categories: 1) Customer Focus, 2) Executive Staff, 3) Direct Manager, 4) Training, 5) Performance Management, 6) Compensation, 7) Communication.
Employees are asked to rate their satisfaction with specific touch points, each rated on a 0 (Extremely Dissatisfied) to 10 (Extremely satisfaction) scale. Below are some sample employee survey questions.
- The executive staff’s focus on ensuring our customers are satisfied.
- The ease of integration into the company culture.
- Availability of career opportunities.
- Receive training necessary for me to do my job effectively.
3. Relative Performance
Competitive benchmarking is a useful way to help you understand where you fit in the mix of other potential employers. This insight can help you improve your recruiting, hiring and employee management efforts. Include a relative performance question that asks your employees how you compare to the competition. The comparative response options and specific scale values allow your employees to provide valuable benchmark information about your company and your competitors. Sample competitive benchmark questions are:
- How does [Company] compare as an employer to other companies where you have worked?
- Please tell us why you think that “insert answer to question above”.
I developed a competitive analytics solution called the Customer Perception of Percentile Rank (C-PeRk) that allows companies to determine where they rank against the competition. Similar to typical benchmark results, the C-PeRk score reflects your percentile rank in your industry (possible scores range from 0% (worst) to 100% (best)). Because the C-PeRk score is based on your current employees, you can use it to help you understand how your industry ranking impacts employee loyalty. You can use this metric as an extra employee experience question in driver analysis and segmentation analysis.
4. Company-Specific Questions
Companies may have a need to ask additional questions. These questions, driven by specific business needs, can include demographic questions, open-ended questions, and targeted questions.
Some companies do not need to ask any demographic questions (e.g., Region, Direct Manager) as these data are housed in the HR system and can be easily linked to employees’ survey responses for subsequent segmentation. When you do not have easy access to this type of information, ask a few key questions about your employees. Typical questions in employee surveys include:
- Job function (e.g., Marketing, Sales, IT, Service)
- Job level (executive, director, manager, individual contributor)
Include one or two open-ended questions that allow employees to provide additional feedback in their own words. Depending on how the questions are phrased, employees’ remarks can provide additional insight about the health of the employee relationship. Employ the power of text analytics to help you understand both the primary content of words as well as the sentiment behind them. To understand potential improvement areas, two questions I use are:
- If you were in charge of [Company], what improvements, if any, would you make?
- If your friends/colleagues were considering working at [Company], what would you tell them?
Employee surveys can be used to collect feedback about specific topics that are of interest to executive management. Give careful consideration about asking additional questions. As with any survey question, you must know exactly how the data from the questions will be used to improve employee loyalty.
Employee surveys deliver business intelligence that help companies improve the employee experience and increase employee loyalty. An effective employee survey will include questions that measure 1) employee loyalty, 2) specific measures of the employee experience, 3) competitive benchmarks and 4) additional company-specific questions.
Next week, I will show how you can analyze these data to get the most value from your employee survey.
Read more: The Meaning of Scale Values for Likelihood