Encouraging your employees to have their say not only on the things that matter most to them in the workplace but even on the operations and vision of your company can scare even the hardiest leaders. The fear that you might have an unhappy workforce or could perform better as an employer can send many running for the hills.
No leader wants to hear the workplace is sad due to work related office politics or a poor company culture, that employees are grumbling over long hours, low pay, or lack of interdepartmental communications. Who would? In an ideal world your workplace is a hive of activity with happy bees buzzing away and a business that is flourishing by the day.
But what if you were to take bold steps to find out whether your internal structure is a honeypot?
Okay, so there might be a few stings along the way, but from open communication comes great power for any organisation. Something to be championed not feared.
By giving employees a platform to voice their opinions you not only get a true picture of what’s really going on, but you build a level of trust, meaning you are more likely to keep strong robust contributors to your business in your business for much longer, and keep the workplace growing as a hive of action.
Perhaps you are presuming you already know exactly what your employees will say?
Replacing assumptions with secure knowledge is a game-changer for confidence in direction and decision-making. Knowing the strengths and challenges from your employees’ perspective enables you to rapidly identify what to do more of and what to address.
Even if some of the survey findings are predictable to you, they become easier to tackle with firm data, easier to bring the whole leadership team (or other stakeholders) onboard around a particular priority. And, in our experience, there are always some unexpected findings, we haven’t collaborated with a leader yet who hasn’t learnt something from our surveys.
Perhaps you are thinking you are better off not knowing?
Without insights into your employees’ experience, there are only two options, both of which are costly.
Firstly, invest in standard, generic good practice initiatives without knowing if these are what your teams need. Social media is rife with suggestions of how to follow the crowd and can give the impression that “everyone else is doing it”.
Initiatives such as employee assistance programmes, mental health awareness sessions, hybrid working policies and additional online learning are popular “off-the-shelf” solutions but they all come at a cost. If you have a limited budget to support your staff and enhance productivity, it is much more cost-effective to invest in the solutions most needed by your team.
A survey will help you identify where you can have the biggest impact for your employees and therefore, where you will see the greatest return on investment.
Alternatively, without insights into your employees’ experience, you could continue exactly as you are, repeating what you have done previously. This may work fairly well, up to a point. There are strengths in consistency and continuing with tried-and-tested approaches. However, with greater insight, you may be able to aim higher or get there faster and more efficiently.
Survey findings can help you achieve this in relation to your workplace culture.
Perhaps you fear you may raise expectations and be unable to meet them?
Of course, there’s always a chance that results may identify the need for a number of changes, perhaps even significant leaps, but by taking a balanced view of all results and feedback you can obtain a general consensus and act on necessary change. You may not be able to achieve everything in the short-term but by showing you’ve listened and are making positive steps towards change, you have already engaged with your employees and shown you care about their opinions.
There are always some achievable, positive outcomes, and if it is not possible to grant everything on your employees’ wish list, at least addressing some of the other issues demonstrates you are doing what you can.
If issues are raised which cannot easily or affordably be resolved, a survey is still beneficial as it provides an opportunity to openly communicate why you cannot make certain changes, and this transparency will build loyalty. People will understand, if the rationale is well-explained. A difficult to resolve issue may be present with or without a survey, but with a survey it can be acknowledged and explained, and frustrations softened with positive actions in other areas.
Surveys give employees a platform from which they can be heard. Never underestimate the importance of this, and you will find that trust and motivation improve in companies that regularly use surveys as engagement tools.
Perhaps you are apprehensive about what people may say about you?
Countless leaders are reaping the benefits of employee surveys, such as those crafted by us here at The Little Survey Company – and are so often pleasantly surprised by how many positive comments they receive. In addition to clear development advantages, using a survey can be absolutely heart-warming when you see the results and discover how many of your team actually love their job and are proud to work for you.
Asking people to share their views and experiences, and subsequently listening to and acting on this feedback, speaks volumes about you as a leader. It is a great opportunity to back up words with actions and demonstrate a people-first, listening and learning leadership style in practice.
So, we ask you; if your employees are prepared to roll up their sleeves, and give it their all, and your business can glean the benefits, what’s there really to fear?