Many companies are convinced that their employees are essential in achieving desired organisation results. Therefore, it is important to regularly check with employees and to listen carefully to how they think the organisation is performing at the moment. There is a lot to learn from their input. An employee survey is a proven way to get this started.
At Noordhoff Publishers, an organisation with a deep rooted history in the Dutch publishing sector, some major changes have taken place in the past period. As a result, it was time to check in on all the employees, requiring conducting an employee survey among all employees. In addition to concrete follow up of the research, it was also needed to develop a good format which could serve as a baseline measurement for following surveys. To bring this project to a good end, Quintoppers Wilco Bontenbal and Koen van Schaik were called in.
An employee survey by Quintop means customisation. During the project, we have had a close collaboration with the customer. In consultation with a workgroup, 4 themes have been defined:
- Personal and organisational development
- Engagement and involvement
Thereafter, the middle management of Noordhoff was asked what they would like to know from their team members. The combination of open and closed, but also science based and organisation specific questions, ensured that the final set of questions matched well with the wishes of the workgroup. By using an easily accessible online tool, as many thresholds as possible were removed for the respondents.
It is not only important that the right questions are asked in an employee survey, ensuring anonymity is crucial. This started immediately in the first phase of designing the research. An example of this is the determination of group sizes. In an early stage, we thought about how groups should be categorised, and the minimum number of respondents per group required for reporting. It is crucial to find a balance here: the more specific groups are identified, the better managers will be able to identify opportunities for improvement, but it should not come at the expense of anonymity.
Follow up on the results
With a 77% response rate, we started analysing all reactions. In consultation with the workgroup, it was decided to report at 3 levels: the entire organisation, per market group and at department level. A common mistake is that such reports are seen as the end point of an employee survey. In our view, however, it is the starting point for further follow-up within the teams. The report offers topics to focus on, which teams can further discuss with each other.
From experience we know that in practice there is often a focus on the points for improvement of such studies, while hardly any attention is paid to the things that are going great already. Yet, these points also play an important role in the daily experience of employees. Maintaining and expanding positive points is at least as important as dealing with issues that require improvement. To facilitate such a dialogue, we have developed a toolkit for managers. Among other things, this consisted of working methods and in-depth questions and served as a guideline for many managers to facilitate the discussion in their teams. At the moment, the follow-up of the research is in full swing and together with a satisfied customer we look back on another successful project.