Employee Satisfaction Surveys
A Case Study
This case study illustrates how employee satisfaction surveys can provide fast, effective benchmarking of staff opinions and organisational culture.
There were two employee satisfaction surveys carried out in this project, by Heawood Research Limited for East Staffordshire Borough Council (ESBC), between 2003 and 2005. Heawood were chosen in a competitive tender process because of:
Heawood had already developed and tested employee satisfaction surveys focusing on IIP, with the support of an IIP Assessor. At the time of the first survey, a re-assessment for IIP was due and there was concern that the organisation might have some issues that needed attention before subjecting itself to an assessor's visit.
ESBC hoped that employee satisfaction surveys might help pin-point the issues with precision. Their previous surveys (conducted several years before) had achieved a response rate of 40%. Although this response rate may have been enough for many companies, they felt that a significant increase in the response rate would be essential if commitment from everyone was to be achieved to act on the results.
Heawood initiated an extensive internal marketing campaign to support the survey, including:
- Team briefings
- Pre-launch e-mails and letters from the Chief Executive to all staff
- Informal walk-about discussions in every department by the Learning & Development Officer
Heawood used both paper and an on-line survey, hosted on its on website, with invitations to participate distributed by e-mail from the Chief Executive with a 'click here' link for all those with web access and a paper survey for those without a computer.
The survey was left open for 4 weeks, and reminders were issued each week. Heawood also developed and supplied a range of humorous posters which they changed each week to maintain interest in the survey.
The response rate was considered to be extremely good, reaching 64% overall with 46% from the paper survey and 82% from the on-line survey. This demonstrated that staff were responding to a request for involvement.
- Customer service was seen to have a relatively high priority
- Friendly and helpful atmosphere existed
- Council service enabled satisfactory work-life balance
- Job roles were generally clear
- Only 7% rated it a poor place to work
- The staff were optimistic about the future
- Widespread view that there was a lack of 2-way communication
- An inconsistent culture existed across the organisation
- Management style was in need of attention: it was perceived to be 'us' and 'them'
Heawood presented the results to the Senior Management Team as well as to the Learning and Development Group.
Suggestions were made as to changes in management behaviours that could address the issues.
It was also suggested that:
- A series of focus groups should be held to flesh out the issues and identify solutions from within the workforce
- A meet and greet programme should be instigated to begin the process of 2-way communication between managers and staff
- A training programme should be formulated to help behavioural change amongst managers
The council worked hard during the following 2 years to implement the changes resulting from the 2003 staff survey. It applied for, and successfully achieved re-accreditation by IIP.
Heawood were asked again in 2005 to undertake a follow-up survey. The Council saw significant progress on almost all criteria:
- The response rate increased further from 64% to 67%.
Heawood has found that organisations that are seen by their staff to act on surveys often experience increasing response rates as staff recognize this as an effective means of achieving change.
- Ratings for communication increased dramatically with 63% now considering themselves well informed compared with 48% in 2003. Recognition, morale and teamwork ratings also increased.
- The 2003 survey brought attention to the fact that only 67% of staff members had had an appraisal. This now rose to only just short of 100%!
- In the 2005 survey 32% of staff attributed better communications to the 2003 staff survey, 47% to appraisals, 60% to team meetings and 75% to the newsletter, all of which were given a significant boost as a result of changes resulting from the previous survey.
For more information, you can contact Peter Knowles
(c) ©2004 Peter Knowles.