It can be difficult to gauge exactly what employees think of your company, but not trying to find out can lead to problems down the road. Not taking steps to at least discover if there are any issues or areas that could be improved can mean you end up with low staff morale, reduced productivity and the likelihood that you'll end up losing some of your best workers.
However, getting to the point where employees are happy to tell the boss their thoughts on a business can take time. There is often a culture of fear around giving honest opinions and feedback. After all, could saying what they really think result in them losing their job? It is important that organizations try to push past this to create a sense of transparency and encourage communication, even if it is negative.
To do this, it isn't just enough to opt for a yearly employee satisfaction survey. Asking staff to fill in a form every 12 months that offers the opportunity to answer on a set scale doesn't give an accurate portrayal of what they think. It can also be incredibly difficult to sift through all the data to get down to what the real problems are.
Rather than relying on a static annual survey, businesses should use a number of techniques to encourage employees to give their honest opinions.
Allow an anonymous forum
Anonymity is usually a good way to encourage honest opinions to be shared and questions to be asked. Founder of Harrison Metal, Michael Dearing's technique for encouraging anonymous questions that help to deal with company issues includes a simple box.
Staff were encouraged to put questions and concerns down on paper and put them in the box on a weekly basis. These were passed onto management to answer without worry that individuals would be targeted because of what was written. Questions can be answered in an informal meeting, in a spreadsheet or email, so long as they are answered in full.
This technique ensures regular communication from managers, as well as helping employees to discuss issues in, what is essentially, a safe space. It is also a lot less intimidating than asking a question or sharing a viewpoint in person.
Regularly connecting with your employees is one of the best ways to improve communication and give them an opportunity to discuss things with you directly. Not only can this give you an overall impression of how staff feel and what they think of the business, it also ensures you are aware of individual experiences and situations.
Some staff may face different challenges or varying viewpoints compared to others, and while you might not be able to address everything, it is better that you know. Entrepreneur suggests a simple sit-down meeting with every employee, which can be monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly.
From this, you will be able to gauge what every staff member's pain points are, how they see their role in the company and whether there are any issues that could mean they are looking to move on. You can then take steps to fix both individual and larger organizational issues.