If you are wondering where you stand currently when it comes to your workplace culture conducting a staff survey is a great way to find out what your team really thinks. I’ve seen what a difference the atmosphere and vibe of your school can have on your staff & student retention rates, which will ultimately impact your overall business success.
There are several reasons why staff surveys are valuable. First, they build trust which will help your company culture and improve team morale. This can trickle down to improving the quality of the learning experience in the classroom when your teachers feel happy and fulfilled in their positions. Staff surveys can also help team members to feel included in big decisions such as program or policy changes, new benefits, future planned improvements, and/or just having a chance to weigh in with their opinions in general.
Considerations When Surveying Your Team
Before you just bust out a staff survey, it’s important to know what type of information you want to collect. I suggest doing an annual survey about general workplace happiness/satisfaction that stays pretty much the same year after year. You should do this workplace happiness survey only once per year, maybe twice the first year.
If you want to get your team’s opinion or feedback for another specific purpose, it’s important to keep that survey separate (for instance, if you want them to weigh in on the type of playground equipment you will be purchasing, or about policy changes). Just know your purpose and craft your questions to get answers for the specific thing you’d like to know. Do not combine a bunch of different objectives into one survey, that will only be confusing.
Keep your survey relatively short. You don’t want to make it so long that some people won’t want to fill it out. It should take 5-10 minutes TOPS. Twenty percent of people will abandon a survey if it takes more than seven minutes, so keep that in mind when choosing your questions. Also, it’s always a good idea to include a short note explaining the purpose of the survey and how the results will be used.
People also like multiple choice, rating, and true & false questions better than open ended questions. While there is good reason to ask some open-ended questions in a survey, many people don’t want to take the time to write their own words. But if you give them some choices (with a box for optional notes or feedback in case they do want to share some personal thoughts) they will select the choice that most aligns with their opinion.
It’s also important to remember that you have to be BRAVE when conducting a staff survey – especially the first few times. You will likely get some feedback that might not be super positive. But don’t worry – you actually WANT your staff to share some constructive criticism. That means that they are telling the truth and giving you the opportunity to improve.
I’d be worried if everything your team said was positive – that could mean that they are afraid to tell you the truth, or don’t care enough to try to improve their current circumstances.
If you think you will have a hard time reading through the opinions of your team, it might be worth it to have someone else compile your results. This is especially important if you use a paper survey. Even though you are trying to keep it anonymous, your brain will likely try to match handwriting or pen color, and try to figure out who said what. While a paper survey might be easier for some of the technology challenged folks out there, it’s not really ideal and a bit harder to compare and track your results year over year.
I’d highly recommend going with one of the e-survey methods such as Survey Monkey. They are easier to distribute, track, and compare. Your team will also feel a higher level of comfort with an e-survey because they know their results are truly anonymous – which is better for you because they are more likely to be truthful.
Here are Several Example Questions to Get You Started, Depending on Your Objectives
You shouldn’t use ALL of these questions in one survey – remember you want to keep your survey short enough that people will take the time to complete the whole survey. You don’t want them rushing through just to get it done. Pick the topics that are most relevant to the information you want to know. And try to consider what will apply year after year, for easy comparison and tracking. Consider mixing up the way you present your questions as well. For instance, ask people to give an overall satisfaction rating on a scale, use multiple choice, true & false, and open ended questions for variety.
• My manager gives me enough autonomy.
• I feel as if there are opportunities for growth at this organization.
Relationship With Managers
• On a scale from 0-10, how close are you with your manager?
• How often does your manager check in with you?
• On a scale from 0-10, how happy are you at work this week?
• Do you leave work at the end of the day feeling happy?
• How do you usually feel when you get to work?
• How would you qualify your eating habits?
• Do you think the company’s values align well with your personal values?
• Do you believe in the mission of the organization?
• Is your work environment too noisy?
• Are you happy with your current salary and benefits package?
Relationships With Colleagues
• Do you have at least one close friend at work?
• How often do you eat lunch with your colleagues?
• How often do you get feedback on your performance?
• Does the feedback you receive help you improve? Recognition
• When was the last time your manager gave you recognition for your work?
• The last time you were praised, were they specific for what they were praising you for?
• On a scale from 0-10, how likely are you to recommend this organization as a good place to work?
• Are you proud of where you work?
• Please rate the following aspects of our leadership team regarding the relationship between yourself and the leadership team (on a scale from 1 to 10).
• Level of communication.
• Fairness to all employees.
• Fairness of policies and procedures.
• Level of professional development and training offered.
• New hire employee.
• New hire orientation training.
• What is the likelihood that you will stay at our school for more than three years?
• What’s the likelihood that you think you will stay versus move on.
• Likelihood that you will stay for the next school year?
• If you were the owner for a day, what’s the first thing that you would do?
• What can we do to improve employee morale and retention?
• If you were a director for the day, what would you do differently?
What To Do With The Results
After you conduct a staff survey, it is so important to share your results with the team. Share the good and the bad and start a dialogue on what you’ve learned. You don’t have to share every detail, but could share percentages: “We learned that 75% of our team feels that we have a positive working environment, but learned that we have room for improvement in these three main areas,” Then list them and share your plan for improvement.
The employee survey is a great tool to initiate important discussions with your team. You can ask for further feedback and get their input on ways you can improve, or how they feel about your initial plan to correct issues you learned about during the survey process. Engaging your team in problem solving gets them more bought into your bigger vision. Also, sharing results lets your team know you HEARD THEM and will BUILD TRUST over time.
If you’ve learned that your team is truly happy with their working environment, or PARTS of your workplace culture, don’t forget to celebrate the good stuff. It can make the whole team feel good to know they are all on the same page and proud to know they are a key part of making the culture so great!
Compare your survey results year over year, and track and celebrate your improved scores. Use your first employee survey as a baseline of where you are today in the health of your culture and your employee satisfaction. Then you can use the results to plan a way to move forward. If you do this regularly and take action on what you learn, within 12 to 18 months you will have a much healthier organization than you do today!