How small businesses can measure employee satisfaction

Managing people

24 July 2017

An employee satisfaction survey measures the level of staff engagement within an organisation, essentially telling you how your team feels about working for your company. The results can be used to build on positive feedback and address areas of concern.

Employee surveys are standard in larger companies. SMEs tend not to use them, partly because of limited resources, and also as owners and managers in small companies can assume they know their team well enough not to need one. However, it can be hard to spot disengagement, and a member of a smaller team may be more likely to mask dissatisfaction than they would in a large, anonymous organisation.

Employee engagement surveys

The most straightforward way to get employee feedback is with a questionnaire. This is easy to administer, fairly simple to analyse and, above all, anonymous. Your employees are more likely to be honest if they don’t have to put their names to anything.

Survey Monkey offers free templates and advice, which is useful if you’ve never done an employee survey before. If you’d prefer to devise your own, think about what you need to know. Relationships with colleagues and managers, working hours and conditions, staff welfare, training and promotion opportunities are all subjects you should explore. You can use a scale (“Rate this statement from 1, unsatisfied, to 5, very satisfied”, for example) to make measuring straightforward. Give your colleagues the opportunity to expand on their answers and make suggestions.

If you need in-depth feedback, try a small employee focus group. This could be a second stage of the process, if the survey uncovers areas that need addressing.

What should you do with the employee feedback?

Never sit on the results. Once you’ve collated the feedback, share it with your team and be open when discussing the responses. It's then important to act on the information you’ve gathered. Some things can be fixed quickly (minor upgrades to staff facilities often feature) and others may take some time, such as opportunities for training and promotion. Build longer-term improvements into your business plan, and ensure everyone knows that these changes are in the pipeline. You can also reassure your team on any welfare issues by highlighting that you have employer’s liability insurance, which provides cover against work-related injury or illness.

Carry out the same survey in six or 12 months’ time, and compare the results. You can also use the survey to set senior members of your team targets in areas they are responsible for.

When you receive the survey results, an initial response can be to take the results personally, but try not to. Carrying out your first employee satisfaction survey is a big step towards ensuring your team has high morale, and that your business has productive, committed staff and a good retention level.