A white paper prepared by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) expounds upon the value of employee opinion as a tool for strategic business management. The goal of ‘The Evolution of Employee Opinion Surveys: The Voice of Employees as a Strategic Business Management Tool’ is to ‘provide a practical overview of the past, present and future of employee opinion research.’
The researchers discovered that not only are employee surveys an efficient way to conduct a large volume of interviews at one time, but also that the data gathering process itself has greatly advanced. What used to take a great deal of time (by today’s digital-age standards) via paper-based, one-on-one interview methods; may now be accomplished easily and efficiently through online survey tools. (For instance the survey module in an automated HR Service Delivery system may be employed.)
Evolving computational power has also made advancements in analytics easily leveraged for survey use. Business owners and managers can now drill down into data to understand the impact that employee opinion and behavior have on the company – and better assess how to address issues and build upon successes. As quoted in the SHRM white paper;
“The ability to meet the increased demand to demonstrate the link between employee behavior and business outcomes has been facilitated by advancements in predictive statistical analytics. Identifying a clear link between engagement and business results is crucial for organizational leaders to see the business relevance of employee research.”
So once an organization has conducted employee surveys, and feels that their communication, culture and engagement are on the right track – they can eliminate (or drastically cut down on) surveys, right? Wrong! “The purpose of building good working relationships and developing open communications isn’t to eliminate surveys. An employee survey serves a valuable purpose. They allow organizations to gather consistent feedback in an effective manner. Yes, organizations could conduct face-to-face surveys but it would take an incredibly long time and you would need to have some sort of consistent way of measuring comments. Surveys provide a means to collect information efficiently.
"Surveys are a very effective and efficient way to gather information. They are not a replacement for human interaction. Nor is face-to-face conversation a replacement for gathering and measuring employee feedback. They are designed to complement each other.
"The worst thing a company can do is ask for feedback and then do nothing with it. So pitching the idea of a survey involves research and preparation. But it can be done. Just be prepared with the right answers." From 'Selling the Value of Employee Surveys' by Sharlyn Lauby, HR Professional.