Workplace surveys have become an integral part of participative management, especially in today’s world of smart business. Some of the most critical questions surveyors or employers want to know from employees is what they think about the employer, their job, and the management. Many corporations are also increasingly looking for ways to further explore the usefulness of surveys, such as those involving employee attitudes to increase productivity, streamline management and increase workforce efficiency. However, just like any other well thought management concept, surveys can also cause serious harm; more so, if it is misconstrued or misused. Below are some of the benefits as well as disadvantages of workplace surveys.
Benefits of workforce surveys
Employee surveys are critical for the well-being a business or organization. Most corporate surveys provide an anonymous system through which critical or sensitive matters in a company can be address without exposing anyone’s identity. Some of the benefits of a survey in the workplace include:
- Get feedback
Employers can provide employees with a satisfaction survey on a regular basis to receive valuable responses about how employees feel about senior executives and their immediate supervisors. This close working relationship can spark new employee recognition ideas and increase employee appreciation, since most top level managers do not work on the floor with their employees. Employers can also use workplace surveys to compare responses, with those obtained from previous years, to gauge if the company is meeting its financial or non-financial goals.
- Encourage accountability
Workplace surveys normally helps keep managers on top of their game. This is the reason why satisfaction surveys are used by senior executives to address leadership inefficiencies or evaluate the performance of managers. Through the surveys, corporations can also learn more about the employee’s working conditions and expectations.
Conducting a workplace survey can easily open the channels of communication; for example, between the management and staff. This is important because employees may not be in a position to face their bosses with straight up questions concerning the choices the management makes.
- Identify problems
Inclusive workforce surveys can help the management identify areas of weakness before they develop into serious problems. For example, a survey about employee workforce environment can help the management identify teething problems and get around them in a subtle or controlled manner.
Disadvantages of workforce surveys
If the results of a well conducted survey are implemented, they can help a business or company move towards attaining its set obligations and goals. For example, a survey can help a company determine the kind of service or products the consumer’s want. The survey participants, on their part, need to find value in the undertaking before them. Some of the shortcomings of workforce surveys include:
- Poor word choices
Compared to most visual surveys, a written survey may confuse the participants, especially on matters that require clarification. The misunderstanding can be overcome by accounting for every word order, punctuation or dialects used. Surveyors can also ask the same question in a different way to gauge the thinking behind the responses.
- Surveyor preconceptions
Although surveys may be conducted in a random or unbiased fashion, it is very important to get the right representative sample. Case in point, you may get an inconclusive response if you ask a group of athletes what they think about a new brand of running shoes, while leaving out the other groups of people.
- Refusal by management
In certain cases, candid responses obtained from employee feedback can be rejected by management. This is especially true if the management takes the responses personally, instead of using the information to improve on their service. On the same vein, pointing fingers as a result of unexpected responses from a survey can impact a business negatively, thus reversing the intended gain.
- Lack of action
When a workplace survey is initially introduced, employees are likely to invest their time and efforts, giving their response as directed. The exercise may then lead to high employee expectations and hope. However, if the management does not act on the collected views, the lack of response can breed cynicism and jeopardize the ability to obtain accurate feedbacks from employees in future.
All and all, when planning a workplace survey, know your audience and environment to gain the appropriate responses. And don’t forget to listen and act on your survey results to further business innovation.
About the Author: JP grew up in a small town in Washington. After receiving a Master’s degree in Public Relations, she has worked in a variety of positions, from agencies to corporations all across the globe. Experience has made JP an expert in topics relating to leadership, talent management, and organizational business.