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  • Writer's pictureAndrea McGeachin

Happy workers, happy business

We spend a lot of time worrying about keeping our customers satisfied, but it’s vital to check in regularly on the happiness of your employees, too.

Smarties with happy face

Happy employees are more productive but, more importantly, more likely to stay with your business. And a happy workplace is a better environment for everyone to work in – particularly within SMEs. We recently completed another staff happiness survey at Amack and thought we’d share some of the lessons we learned along the way. Here’s how to find out how your staff are doing and how you can do better for them. It’s employee survey time!

1. Find a tool that’s easy for everyone to use

Any survey needs to be clear and quick to use; there’s nothing worse than asking people how you can make them happier, only to hand them a pain point in order to get there. Make sure the survey won’t take more than a few minutes to complete and is super simple for employees to navigate. It’s also important that you’ll be able to analyse the data easily yourself when it comes in.

Ask around and find out which online survey tools other SMEs in your sector used. When we recently surveyed our employees at Amack we used Survey Monkey, which worked well for us.

2. Before writing the questions, consider what you want to know

With our staff happiness survey, the key thing we wanted to know was whether staff appreciated the wellbeing and benefits package on offer, or would prefer something else. So we geared lots of the questions around that. We also wanted a general overview of how happy our people were at work and to see if we could improve satisfaction levels.

3. Look at current engagement

Gartner research from 2020 showed that 77% of employees don’t take part in the wellbeing programmes on offer at work because the programmes aren’t engaging enough or not customised to the needs of that workforce. If your take-up of wellbeing assistance or benefits programmes is usually lower than you would hope, use this survey to find out why rather than simply reminding your staff that those programmes are there. Once you know why engagement is low, you can tweak your offering.

4. Go for an easy-to-follow format

You might want to ask people to grade aspects of their work life using stars or a points system, which makes it very clear how everyone feels when it comes to presenting the results to management. If you think a bit more guidance might be helpful, however, you could use multiple choice answers such as ‘I agree strongly, I agree, I neither agree or disagree, I disagree, I disagree strongly’. Essentially they’re the same thing but some people find it easier to agree or disagree with a statement than to attribute ‘points’ to an aspect of their lives. Think about what might work best for your team.

5. Ask open-ended questions

Yes, we know you know, but honestly - it’s so easy to forget when you’re focussed on getting specific information. Make sure with each answer there’s a ‘tell us more’ option where employees can say what they do and don’t like and why. Asking ‘how would you do this if you were running the company?’ often brings revealing answers, too, making employees consider not only what they personally would like in terms of soft benefits and wellbeing programmes, but also what others might benefit from.

6. But don’t forget the hard data

Open-ended questions are brilliant for finding creative new ideas, but you’ll need to be able to analyse the results meaningfully for management, too. Being able to say that Jamie in sales would like workplace reflexology isn’t going to give them much, whereas telling them that 80 per cent of staff would sign up to a subsidised programme of alternative therapies at work gives them concrete evidence of what is wanted and a clearer idea of what the business benefit will be.

7. Be ready to act on the result

Once the results are in, act quickly to analyse the data and then turn that into a plan to deliver change. Break the change down into some quick wins so that employees see some results almost immediately, and some medium- and long-term actions, too.

8. Keep everyone updated

It’s easy for employees to feel they’ve been fobbed off if they fill in a survey and then don’t hear another word about it. So don’t forget to communicate with your employees throughout the process. Let them know what the results are and then what changes you’ll be putting in place and when.

9. Be smart with your analytics and solutions

If you’ve left plenty of space for employees to feed back, their answers should give you lots of context, so use that information thoughtfully; don’t feel you have to find a ‘wellbeing solution’ for every wellbeing problem. Everyone giving one star for happiness in a particular department may paint a depressing picture initially but if they all tell you they are floundering because they’ve been using new software, it might be that some extra training is an easy win - and will be welcomed more warmly than free fruit on Fridays.

10. Make this an ongoing process

A staff satisfaction survey is just the first step in what should be an ongoing process. Employee happiness increases productivity and retention, so should always be at the top of your agenda. Make sure the survey is something you repeat regularly so employees know it wasn’t just a flash in the pan. It’s also worth putting other processes in place so that employees always know where and how to give feedback about their happiness and wellbeing; you could set up a wellbeing committee or an anonymous ideas box.


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