Companies can choose to conduct online employee satisfaction surveys for a number of reasons:
- Cost – It is cheaper for a company to design and carry out an online employee satisfaction survey than a paper one. The costs of individual administrators and data entry individuals are spared when the survey is conducted online.
- Time – Online surveys allow employees to complete them at an individual pace and when it does not interfere with their duties. Compiling and entering the information into a large database will be faster with online surveys as workers are not needed to type in the answers.
- Confidentiality – Employees can fill out online satisfaction surveys anonymously. When a company designs them so that no identifying information is necessary, it makes it easier for employees to answer questions honestly. Unlike a paper satisfaction survey, online ones allow employees to share information without fear of being identified.
- Convenience – Online satisfaction surveys allow companies to conduct them frequently. With savings in both cost and time, a company can design different satisfaction surveys and tailor them to particular departments or employees.
Initially, most employee satisfaction surveys are broad-brush surveys with general questions/statements. The goal of these general surveys is usually to measure employee satisfaction over time. They are also used when a company is going through organizational shifts such as expansions or staff layoffs.
For some companies, these broad-brush surveys are not enough to gain information about employee satisfaction. Instead, managers use a number of methods to maximize the benefits of satisfaction surveys:
- Focus groups – Companies conduct focus groups with employees to find out specific areas of concern to them. For example, a company switching from office-based consulting work to remote work must ask employees about their specific concerns. In these focus groups, a manager acts as a facilitator to the group. This facilitator asks directed questions such as: How often do you speak with your subordinates during the work day? This directed question can be used to guide the discussion. Group members can answer the question about meeting and communication frequency. This allows the facilitator to understand their challenges and successes.
- Confident/anonymous feedback – Companies can also solicit confidential and/or anonymous feedback from employees about areas of satisfaction that are important to them. Even complaints can provide feedback. An initial short survey completed and submitted anonymously can guide questions for a longer, more detailed survey. For example, a company can ask a general question about whether employees are satisfied with their compensation. In the longer survey, the question about compensation can be more detailed and include individual questions about wages, benefits, training, and bonuses.
2.1.Designing Employee satisfaction surveys
Assume that you are preparing an online employee satisfaction survey for a large shoe retailer, Aldon Shoes. Aldon is a large-sized retailer with companies in major cities including New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and Houston. As the company’s main strength in the workforce lies in the sales staff, managers are interested in checking their satisfaction continually.
In creating the survey statements in an online employee satisfaction survey, it is important to remember they are:
- Clearly written
As seen in Table 1, employee satisfaction statements should be created to reflect the satisfaction factors relevant to the employees. The statements have to be written in a language that a general audience can understand with ease. Initially, the general survey can be broad-based and concentrated on larger employee satisfaction surveys.
Table 1 – Online employee satisfaction survey – Sample 1
Make a check () in the box that describes the level of importance.
1 = not important at all
2 = not very important
3 = important
4 = very important
5 = extremely important
NA = not applicable
| Overall feeling of working at Aldon|| || || || || || |
| Leadership from floor managers & senior managers|| || || || || || |
| Relationship with floor managers|| || || || || || |
| Relationship with company employees|| || || || || || |
| Relationship with sales coworkers|| || || || || |
| Relationship with Aldon customers|| || || || || || |
The above statements ask employees whether they find certain relationships within the company important. However, these statements are broad-based and can be difficult for employees to apply to themselves, especially with day-to-day tasks. To design statements that are simple and relevant to the average employee, they must be positive ones. Positive statements are statements that help an employee recall examples that apply to him or her. Table 2 shows examples of positive employee satisfaction statements.
Table 1 – Online employee satisfaction survey – Sample 2
Make a check () in the box that describes the level of importance.
1 = Disagree strongly
2 = Disagree
3 = Neutral
4 = Agree
5 = Agree strongly
| I understand what the company is trying to
achieve|| || || || || |
| I am challenged
by my job|| || || || || |
| I am rewarded
for my hard work|| || || || || |
| I look
forward to coming to work every
day|| || || || || |
| I like my day-to-day
job|| || || || || |
| I receive sufficient
support from my
supervisors/managers|| || || || || |
supervisor clearly defines my daily
responsibilities|| || || || || |
supervisor provides regular feedback on my
performance|| || || || || |
| Overall, I
am satisfied with my|| || || || || |
at Aldon Shoes|| || || || || |
2.2.Creating online survey
Companies can create online employee satisfaction surveys using either commercially available software or ones designed by their company. If using commercially-designed ones, managers must make sure that employee anonymity and confidentiality can be protected.
Before delivering an online employee satisfaction survey, it is important to prepare a number of Statements that guide employees they fill out the online satisfaction survey. When asking employees to complete a survey online, there have to be clear instructions and information about the survey. As employees can be reluctant to provide feedback in fear for their jobs, it is crucial to provide anonymity. The promise of anonymity is one of the statements to be prepared.
Each statement appears on the screen as employees enter their answers. Employees are also reminded that they can stop filling in the survey at any time. They are also promised that their answers will not be matched to their identities in the future. This helps the company gather information in confidence and obtain truthful answers from employees.
A welcome text is the first screen that appears to customers before they begin an online satisfaction survey. The text should be short, simple, and direct. A typical welcome text must include the name of the organization/company in the first few sentences. A sample welcome text will be worded as follows:
“At Aldon, our employees are our greatest asset! This Satisfaction Survey is our way of getting to know what you, our valued employee, need. With your feedback, we can work towards an ideal working environment for all.
Thank you for taking the time to fill it out.”
A privacy statement assures customers that their survey answers will be confidential. It also lets them know that the information will not be shared with anyone and not traced back to them. The privacy statement should be short and direct. A sample privacy statement will be worded as follows:
“Unless you give us your express permission, we will keep your survey answers confidential. We will NOT attribute the answers to any person. The information we collect in this satisfaction survey will be used to improve the working conditions of all Aldon employees.”
A survey goal is a brief statement about the goals of the survey. Typically, it should repeat the name of the service or organization so that the customers are clear with their answers. A sample survey goal can be as follows:
“This satisfaction survey gathers your feedback. It will let us know which parts we can improve and which parts we can expand.”
2.3.An online employee satisfaction survey
When designing an online employee satisfaction survey, company managers will divide the survey into sections as follows:
- Direct supervisors
- Training and development
- Areas of improvement
Within the same online survey, you can use different Likert scales to capture employee answers. For example, you can use a 5-point scale that ranges from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree. If some of the questions ask about the impact of new organizational improvement measures, then a scale that ranges from Much Worse to Much Better can be used.
Although it is best that a survey is kept short, employee satisfaction surveys are an exception. Online employee surveys should be comprehensive so as much information as possible can be gathered. Employees must understand that it is in their interest to give feedback to management about their satisfaction levels.
In this subscale of the survey, simple statements can be used with which the employees can agree or disagree. The statements should be short and direct.
2.Your Direct Supervisor
In this subscale of the survey, employees are asked to comment on their relationship with their direct supervisor. The goal of the questions is to give employees a chance to rate their supervisors on important qualities such as fairness, helpfulness, and direction.
4.What do you think of these training & development chances?
5.How would you compare the company’s compensation and benefits with other companies in the field/city?
6.If the company makes improvements, how important will these be to you?
2.4.Employee satisfaction drivers
Companies conduct initial surveys to find out what is important to their employees. From their answers, managers can conduct more in-depth satisfaction surveys. Online employee satisfaction are a convenient, easy-to-conduct way to measure employee satisfaction. It is especially useful when a company wishes to measure satisfaction periodically. This allows company managers and executives to determine aspects of employee life that has improved or worsened.
Employee satisfaction surveys provide information on key satisfaction drivers. These drivers determine company priorities. They also set the company’s human resources strategy. If a satisfaction factor ranks highly on the survey, managers must make it a priority to address it. For example, if most employees are not satisfied with the clarity of responsibilities, this can affect their work. The company must, then, determine how to best address this issue. Managers may decide to rewrite company/departmental manuals to make roles and responsibilities clearer. Managers can also meet with employees individually during their evaluations. In these meetings, they can address any areas of responsibility not clear to the employees.
If a satisfaction factor ranks lower on the survey, then it will be lower on the company’s operational and strategic priorities. Employee satisfaction drivers change over time. If employees are satisfied with their workloads in one quarter, they may be dissatisfied in the following quarter. The reasons may be that management increases their workloads after laying off some employees.
An online satisfaction survey is a convenient way to track these changes in satisfaction drivers.
Anderson, D.R., Sweeney, D. J., and Williams, T.A. (2007). Statistics for Business and Economics. South-Western College Publication. 10th Edition.
Somekh, B. & Lewin, C. (2005). Research Methods in the Social Sciences. London: Sage.