Not long ago, I learned some startling statistics: The loyalty of employees who work for small businesses has dropped by almost 20% since 2008, and currently stands at a paltry 50%. Although I have never experienced any serious turnover in my own venture, I decided to take preemptive action by implementing online employee surveys. My goal was to impact the profitability of my business by improving the level of satisfaction of my staff. Once I implemented online surveys, I found that not only were employees less satisfied than I originally thought, but that they also possessed a wealth of creative ideas to improve the business.
There are multiple benefits to utilizing online employee surveys:
Surveys Provide Concrete, Actionable Data
In the past, if you had asked me how company morale was, I could only guess. However, now that I utilize employee surveys, I have real, practical numbers that I can analyze. I can tell you how my company stacks up over prior years regarding employee satisfaction with management, compensation, benefits, and other important areas. It has given me the peace of mind that I need in order to more confidently run my business.
Feedback Is Objective
With the online survey format, I never have to wonder if there's an ulterior motive behind the answers. Also, since my surveys are anonymous, the staff knows that they have the ability to speak openly and honestly.
Communication Is Streamlined
Thanks to online employee surveys, I've found the level of upward communication to be much more effective and streamlined. In the past, I often only heard of troubling interoffice issues via second-hand information. After utilizing surveys, however, I hear about problems first-hand. My staff is encouraged to come right out and say exactly what's on their minds - though I strongly encourage them to do it in a professional and respectful manner.
The Cost Is Low
Previously, I elicited all employee feedback at the end of their performance review. This was easily the longest part of the process. I would have to let them have their say, which usually took quite some time. I have since found that the feedback I received could have been communicated in just a few minutes via an online survey.
In fact, I've used this saved time to generate additional sales, which has made the online survey format extremely cost-effective. More importantly, due to these surveys, I now have a staff that's more productive and happy, which is priceless in terms of business cash flow. The turnover rate has also decreased, which reduces labor costs by eliminating the need for frequent new employee training periods.
Customer Service Can Improve
I've found that I receive much more objective, believable feedback when asking my employees to rate their level of customer service via an online survey. In the past, in face-to-face settings, it always seemed that their answers were inflated or embellished compared to how I would have rated them.
I've also received more specific ideas on how the company can improve. Thanks to the information gathered from surveys, we have revamped and upgraded our customer service standards.
Final Thoughts If you decide to use online employee surveys, consider issuing them at times far removed from performance appraisals. If you issue surveys during a time-frame that is too close to performance evaluations, you'll receive rave reviews from those who received significant pay increases, and less-than-stellar comments from those who did not. However, implemented properly, online employee surveys can help you establish a more pleasant workplace - and a more profitable business.
What experience have you had with online employee surveys?
This post was contributed by David Bakke. Bakke runs an online business and shares tips related to small business, careers, and marketing on Money Crashers Personal Finance.