New ways to find out how your employees feel

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An extract from the Swedish management and business magazine Chef (Manager):

Employee surveys: The results are left lying around. The follow-up is insufficient. It’s costly and time-consuming. And according to a recent survey, one in two managers feel doubtful if their employee surveys yield the results they were expecting. So what can you do instead?
 

Have you ever felt uneasy when the results of an employee survey are released? Do you wonder whether or not it will actually make a difference? Is that because you don’t know how to interpret the results, or because you feel you won’t have the time to actually follow it up?

According to a survey by Swedish magazine Chef (“Manager”) and Novus, one in two managers feel doubtful if their employee surveys yield the results they were expecting, especially in an age where employees’ well-being and engagement are more than ever linked to businesses’ success.

The responses from the 550 managers that took part in the survey creates more questions than answers. All this work, but to what end? Is it time to scrap the generic, standardised employee surveys and all their hundreds of questions? Has time run out for staff surveys?

The conversation is by no means new, but the attention it is receiving has skyrocketed.  And that is hardly surprising. According to Svenska Dagbladet, Swedish firms spend a total of 500 million SEK (roughly US$59 million) per year in time and on consulting companies to find out how satisfied their employees are.

So if you lack the time, skills or resources necessary to really get the most out of an employee survey, what alternatives are there for your business? What can you use to complement, or replace, your annual employee surveys?

The magazine spoke to several companies that have found new ways. The Celpax device is one of the solutions:

Company: Finax. Their solution: A ‘feel-good meter’.

Mood meter for employees

By pressing either the red or green button, employees can tell us how they feel – every day

At Finax’s factory in Helsingborg in southern Sweden, employees tell their managers how they feel every day – simply by pressing a button. And the result is followed up in a meeting the following day.

“We are able to directly monitor employees’ well-being. Sometimes it is enough for us to just discuss how things are going, but sometimes further action is required,” says Per de Bartha, HR Manager at Finax.

He implemented the so-called Celpax-meter, a small device that is mounted in a prominent place, e.g. by the front door. Employees can click on either the red or green button and anonymously tell their managers how their workday was.

The result, including how many employees have taken part in the survey and the average employee mood, is shown on a monitor in the break room where it can be viewed by everyone. Per de Bartha is convinced that it should be a completely transparent process, not only to show employees that each of them has the ability to make a difference to their working conditions, but also so that they know that it is up to them to take that opportunity.

“We have had very high levels of employee satisfaction – over 90% – but it has also dropped down to 40-50%, for example when we have had operational issues that have led to extra work being required. It gives us an indication as to what our employees are thinking, and as a manager, I have the opportunity to follow that up at our lean meeting the following day.”

“I wanted to have a discussion about what is and isn’t working from day-to-day.”

But it’s also a measure of when to implement change. Per de Bartha can see when it’s time for him to implement new things or when he needs to do more to ensure the well-being of his employees.

It was a little more than a year ago, while Finax put a heavy focus on improvements in order to streamline its business, that he found the ’feel-good’ meter. Finax had begun implementing lean management practices and increased the rate at which change was being introduced. Per de Bartha wanted to find a way to increase employees’ engagement and looked at the traditional yearly employee surveys. Around the same time he bumped in to the customer satisfaction smileys.

“That really made me think. The employee surveys that take place every March don’t really tell us anything about what the problems actually were. Too many things happen before the results are presented. I wanted to have a discussion about what is and isn’t working from day-to-day.”

After having found the Celpax mood meter, Per de Bartha took the idea to the Health and Safety Managers and immediately got them fired up too. Posters were put up on the walls of the break room so that everyone would understand what it was they were hoping to achieve.

“I learnt Change Management at IKEA and thus know how important it is to create awareness within the company in order to get everyone on board. Employees thought that it seemed fun and exciting right from the start, however they were also concerned about how the data would be used. By making the results publicly available we have taken away any doubts they may have had,” he says.”

“This has worked so well that we will introduce it into all of our factories. It’s a cheap solution compared to employee surveys.”

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