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Employee Surveys: Do We Really Want to Know?

If you work for a large company, this situation probably sounds familiar to you: Senior management, concerned about worker disgruntlement and high turnover, commissions an employee survey. Then, after spending tens of thousands of dollars soliciting and compiling staff members' opinions and suggestions, management fails to act on the feedback. Employees are left wondering if management values their concerns and ideas, or if the higher-ups were just pretending to care.

Whether it's a deliberate charade or simple negligence, the practice is widespread. According to Opinion Research Corporation's latest annual employee research study, 46 percent of companies that conduct workforce surveys do not address the issues that their employees raise. The leaders of those companies are wasting more than the money spent conducting the surveys; they are squandering their credibility as well.

I think many leaders pay for employee surveys hoping for positive news. "Hey, it turns out our workers like us despite the recent round of benefit rollbacks." For that reason, rather than heeding employee warnings that the ship is sinking, management takes solace in knowing that the doomed appreciate hearing the orchestra playing as the vessel descends. Those companies are missing out on opportunities to engage their workers. According to the ORC's analysis, 84 percent of employees working for companies at which management acts on the information gathered in worker surveys feel positively affected by the resulting changes.

Employee surveys can provide vital information for organizations. Leaders need feedback from workers closest to the frontline, who often bring forth new ideas or warnings about overlooked problems. But management has to be willing to listen to the good and the bad, and act on both.
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I cannot tell you how often I've seen this happen. The follow through is the most important part, otherwise it is a waste of time, money, and effort and will actually erode the confidence of employees in management.

Thanks for this article.

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



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