Running Your Business

Should Your Organization Conduct an Employee Survey?


  • Surveys can draw employees' honest input on benefits packages and workplace culture, and can be used to create wish lists for the company


  • Face-to-face chats are better for emergency needs and individual problems, and can lead to more concrete actions


  • Employers must consider every suggestion seriously, and take concrete action based on surveys and face-to-face conversations


Posted by March 22, 2019

There are a number of advantages to conducting a company-wide employee survey. For instance, the findings can reveal valuable solutions to workplace issues and help you identify perks that your colleagues appreciate the most. Additionally, polls can help to improve the overall morale and health of the organization.

However, there are certain times when face-to-face communication is a better way to check the workforce’s pulse. Here’s how to effectively use polls at your office, and tips for determining the best approach to communication.

Employee Survey Benefits

Conducting anonymous polls can reveal employees’ honest opinions about benefits packages and the work environment. These surveys can ask whether premiums or deductibles are too high, if a network is satisfactory, if Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) or Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) are better and what supplemental options—such as life insurance, dental or vision coverage—are desired.

Companies can also use surveys to pinpoint which perks employees value most, from flex time to wellness programs. Polls should include open-ended questions, so employees have a chance to share new ideas with management. Results can be used to create employee wish lists that HR can consider when evaluating perks and benefits packages.

When Face-To-Face Communication Is Better

Yes, surveys are great for getting anonymous, honest feedback. But if organizations only conduct surveys once or twice a year, leaders need to give employees a chance to address unexpected problems more regularly. Even if a business offers frequent pulse surveys, it still needs to provide employees the opportunity to talk about urgent issues.

As a general rule, more personal topics (like flex time for a sick child, a disagreement with a colleague, or insurance shifts for a medical emergency) should be reserved for face-to-face discussions. Additionally, HR should have an open-door policy for discussing sensitive questions and complaints.

Face-to-face communication can also bring about more tangible results. Harvard Business Review found that people are more likely to respond to a survey when asked in-person than via email. There’s something about talking face-to-face that just can’t be duplicated. So, having managers meet one-on-one with staff after a digital survey goes out—especially the first one—could be hugely beneficial.

These meetings can help show that managers care about employees’ answers and time, and that they plan to put to use the feedback provided. During these meetings, it should be emphasized that the door is always open for questions or concerns, even after surveys are finished.

How to Facilitate an Anonymous Survey

For a survey to truly elicit honest responses, participants need to know it’s anonymous. Polls shouldn’t include any questions that could identify staff members, such as how long they’ve been with the company or what department they work in. If your business needs to include demographics, have a third party administer the survey and aggregate the information.

The surveys themselves should include a mix of multiple-choice and open-ended questions. This can that ensure accurate feedback is gathered without identifying any of the respondents.

Encouraging Open Communication

The best way to encourage open communication in your workplace—whether through face-to-face conversations or an anonymous employee survey—is by showing that managers take these interactions seriously.

Managers and employees shouldn’t dismiss concerns that are brought to their attention or react with disbelief or defensiveness. Organizations should create a culture of trust so employees know they won’t be punished for asking the “wrong” thing. Instead, when appropriate, managers should take concrete action based on feedback. They should let employees know that changes are being made in response to the surveys. And when they get feedback face-to-face, they should follow up to talk about changes made since the last conversation.

Mutual respect and security are crucial when facilitating confidential surveys and face-to-face communication. Everyone should trust that honesty will be rewarded and that management truly cares about what employees think. It may take time to build that trust, but it’s worthwhile in the end.

Looking for tools that can help you find benefits packages that will motivate every member of your organization? Visit United Concordia Dental’s website to explore offerings like its Dental Plan Navigator.

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