Why Employee Satisfaction?

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Everyone's abuzz about the J.D. Power home builder rankings, and rightfully so. Regardless of your personal stance on the data, more potential home buyers are making it part of their research prior to making a buying decision. And if they're not, you can bet the salesperson of any well ranked company is bringing it to their attention.

January 01, 2006

Everyone's abuzz about the J.D. Power home builder rankings, and rightfully so. Regardless of your personal stance on the data, more potential home buyers are making it part of their research prior to making a buying decision. And if they're not, you can bet the salesperson of any well ranked company is bringing it to their attention.

When you peel back the onion of customer satisfaction you'll find an underlying correlation to employee satisfaction. Simply put, it takes satisfied employees to produce satisfied customers and takes satisfied customers to grow any business.

Satisfied employees tend to willingly make contributions to the organization to ensure its financial security and longevity; realize and take pride in the importance and value of their work to internal and external customers alike; feel valued; welcome personal development and growth; feel free to share their opinions and ideas honestly; and better serve the needs of the customer.

How do you know if your employees are happy? Give them an opportunity to tell you anonymously. The best vehicle to get that type of input is an employee satisfaction survey.

What's the obstacle? Many senior managers say they have a good handle on their employees' opinions. Remarks like, "My people are never shy about telling me what's on their minds," or "We have an open door policy... no secrets in our company," are common. That's great, and if true, those managers won't be surprised by the results of a survey. However, in a recent survey we conducted, a manager was surprised. The results indicated the sales team felt its division president tended to unnecessarily override the vice president of sales. When he asked the vice president of sales if this was true, the vice president answered affirmatively. The surprised division president then asked, "Why didn't you say something?" The vice president of sales responded, "I assumed you knew you were doing it."

The Bottom line — employee satisfaction surveys are good business and good for your business. After all, who better knows what is going on in every part of your operation than the people actually performing the work? The survey solicits your employees' perceptions, which are their reality. Does their reality allow them to perform to their optimum level? If not, what is holding them back?

So, if you want to get a leg up on the customer satisfaction race, as well as develop and maintain a participative company culture, a great first-step is an employee satisfaction survey. But before you launch one here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The survey must be completely confidential — guaranteed anonymity for all participants.
  • Talk it up. Let participants know the importance of the project. Let them know you are interested in their opinions.
  • Be prepared to share the findings with your people, and most importantly, what next steps will be taken.
  • Repeat annually to check progress.

While each survey is unique, the better ones should provide insight into the following areas:

  • Company values
  • Customer orientation
  • Effective communication
  • Company image
  • Work environment
  • Performance and development
  • Management practices
  • Co-Worker relations
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Future orientation

If you have specific, measurable information in the above categories, you can capitalize on your strengths and identify your opportunities for improvement. You should be able to spot potential problem areas before they become a reality. Additionally, you can plan and allocate your resources (financial and otherwise) more effectively. Everyone benefits - the company, the employees, and yes, the customer.

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