By Osborne, J. E.
Supervisory Management , Vol. 37, No. 12
If you really want to know what your staff is thinking--just ask them! Employee attitude surveys can result in information you can use to boost morale, increase productivity, and tame turnover. Translating all this information into improvements for your organization isn't easy, but the results you get will pay dividends down the road.
How to Ask
Since the way you phrase survey questions will affect the answers you receive, take time to design questions that will make the most of your survey efforts.
Keep questions open-ended. Use phrases that require more than a yes or no response.
Ask for alternatives. Often those directly involved with the issue will provide useful suggestions for addressing the problem.
Provide an opportunity for people to voice an opinion. For example, ask them, "Tell us how this company compares to other places you have worked." This type of question will often produce suggestions for improvements in policies and procedures and will keep you abreast of what your competition is doing about working conditions, benefits, and other human resource issues.
Ask employees to help you set priorities. At the end of each survey, ask participants to list the three most critical issues they want management to address in order of importance. This process will help you to focus efforts first on the issues of most concern to employees.
How to Respond
Once you receive your employees' responses, let them know you appreciate their participation. Tell them when they can expect management's response and what the next step will be.
In responding to your employees' concerns, translate each issue into an "action statement"--for instance, if an employee states, "The insurance plan needs to be improved," the action statement would be to "investigate the insurance plan for reduction of current cost to employees. …