Improve your Workplace: Conduct a Survey
Did You Know?
- There is a connection between customer and employee satisfaction
- The cost of absenteeism due to staff experiencing role overload is estimated to be $3.1 billion/year (Duxbury & Higgins, 2003)
- Employees with weak employment relations miss more days due to illness than those with strong relations (Lowe & Schellenbert, 2001)
- Do you know how satisfied your employees are?
- Does your staff feel like they have too much to do in too little time?
- Do you know the needs and interests of your employees?
- Do you know why staff are absent from work?
Conducting a workplace health survey can provide answers to the questions above and can also help the organization:
- Identify gaps or areas of concern that need to be addressed
- Assess their strengths and weaknesses
- Propose, design and deliver effective workplace strategies
Step 1 - Get Management Support
Management will be more likely to support employee surveys when they know how it will benefit the company. Discuss what could be learned from the survey. This will help in deciding the type of survey to conduct and the type of questions to ask.
Step 2 - Assemble a Survey Committee
Once you have assessed what management wants to learn about employees, create a committee to decide what type of survey to use, what questions to ask, how information will be collected, who will conduct the survey (i.e. internal or external resources) and who will evaluate the results.
Ideally, the committee should have representatives from: various departments, shifts, management/non-management and union/non-union if applicable.
Step 3 - Conduct Your Survey
There are several methods for conducting a survey. The approach chosen will depend upon the type of information collected and the characteristics of your workplace (i.e. level of trust and willingness to participate). Possible methods to poll staff include:
- informal discussion
- suggestion box
- electronic suggestion form
- focus groups
There are many types of surveys available. Survey type should be driven by the learning goals. Five common workplace surveys are:
- Needs Assessment - identify gaps between the current workplace situation and where the company would like to be. Answers determine what areas of interest there are and what programs could be offered that would be of greatest benefit to staff.
- Interest Survey - identifies the kinds of programs and services employees are interested in (e.g. lunch & learn topics, how employees prefer to receive information, types of activities they are interested in participating in, etc.).
- Satisfaction Survey - explores customer satisfaction with a product or service. It can also deliver insightful information about the organization. Research has found that employees who are satisfied with their jobs provide higher levels of customer service to clients.
- Health Risk Assessment (HRA) - applied to collect data about the health status of employees (e.g. cholesterol, BMI, blood pressure, healthy eating practices, alcohol consumption, family history for chronic diseases, etc.).
- Workplace Audit – rather than creating a survey, an audit looks at information and data that is already being collected. It could examine: EAP usage, prescription drug usage, most frequent workplace injuries, etc. A workplace audit can also look at what is already being done for employees (e.g. flexible work arrangements, showers, subsidized meals, family picnic).
Step 4 - Evaluate Results
After surveys are collected, an evaluation is conducted. Analyzing and interpreting the results will inform the design and delivery of programs and future initiatives that will meet the needs of your workplace. How the results are evaluated will depend on the method used to conduct the survey and the type of data collected.
Create an executive summary of the findings and highlight the gaps that will hopefully be addressed in the future. Share the results with employees, management and other stakeholders to secure their support for future programs.
Step 5 - Develop & Implement a Plan
Now it is time to put your committee to work. Brainstorm what can be done to address the gaps and unmet needs identified through the evaluation process. Take your time when developing a comprehensive and practical plan by working through the steps below.
- Participation: Who needs to be involved, when and how?
- Time: When can you start and how much time is available?
- Money and Other Resources: Know your budget and what resources are available for your plan.
- Data Gathering: Gather data that will aid with planning (i.e. survey results, top drug costs, etc.).
- Decision Making: Decide who needs to be involved? When and how will decisions be made?
1. Create a goal statement that sums up what you are trying to achieve and set long-term and short-term objectives to stay on track.
2. Identify what activities will be included in your strategy. Create a list of actions in each of the following strategy areas:
- Awareness Raising: activities that provide information for individuals to make informed choices (e.g. displays, newsletters, bulletin boards).
- Skill Building: activities that get people involved in changing their behaviour (e.g. presentations, classes, workshops).
- Environmental Supports: activities that create an environment that supports people in adopting new behaviours (e.g. policy, healthy foods in the cafeteria, organizational communication & culture).
3. For each planned activity define the:
- Target audience
- Resources required
- Marketing strategies
- Time-line or schedule for the activity
- Person responsible for the activity
- Evaluation process (e.g. attendance, evaluation forms, annual survey etc.)