How to Read Your Workers’ Minds
Telepathy is a fantasy; thought transference is impossible. Yet, most business leaders would give almost anything to know what is going through the minds of their workforce, so they might build a better business environment to support and engage them.
Fortunately, it doesn’t take a mind-reader to decipher the wants and needs of your workers. Here are a few solutions you might employ to get a better sense of the thoughts, opinions and emotions of your workforce.
Attitude and Opinion Surveys
Employee attitude surveys, also called employee opinion surveys, are some of the most important tools for gaining employee feedback on the organization. Typically, business leaders, HR or a third-party consulting firm will issue a pulse survey to gain a snapshot of views, beliefs and emotional states of the workforce. Business leaders can use the results from these surveys to identify areas of improvement and promote meaningful organizational change. As long as feedback is responded to in a timely manner, employees generally enjoy participating in this type of survey, as it demonstrates care and attention from their employer.
A dissatisfied workforce is an unproductive workforce, so many organizations strive to identify and eliminate dissatisfaction as it emerges. Satisfaction surveys can help business leaders determine the root cause of satisfaction issues and work with employees to find an adequate solution. Along with attitude and opinion surveys, satisfaction surveys fall into a category called “climate surveys” that provide business leaders like you with more information about the atmosphere of the workplace environment.
When employees are engaged, they are emotionally committed to the success of an organization and its goals. Engagement is one of the best predictors of high productivity and low turnover, so business leaders need to have a reliable method of measuring engagement in the workforce. Surveys can provide critical information about what drives (or impedes) engagement within an organization.
One of the most common tools for understanding employees, performance appraisals include the evaluation of and feedback on individual employee performance. Usually conducted on an annual basis, appraisals can be more impactful with greater frequency, as they allow business leaders and workers both to recognize strengths, identify concerns and alter behavior with greater efficiency. You might consider conducting performance reviews on a quarterly basis, which will also give you more one-on-one contact with your staff which can help you forge stronger relationships in the workplace.
A 360-degree survey provides you with full-circle feedback on an employee’s performance and experience in the workplace. Often, these surveys are conducted not by or on the target employee but instead on the individuals and institutions that surround them, like their coworkers, supervisors, vendors and customers. While this tool might seem like the best for understanding the minds of employees, there are significant drawbacks to 360-degree surveys — like the need for outstanding data collection and analysis as well as the opportunity for competitors to interfere with accuracy of information. Thus, business leaders who use this method should be cognizant of its potential faults.
Employer Improvement Surveys
Employer improvement surveys allow employees to constructively criticize their organization, revealing weaknesses and inefficiencies that business leaders might never identify on their own. Employees tend to have a unique and valuable perspective on the function of the organization, and business leaders should seek to harness this perspective for organizational good.
Exit Interviews and Surveys
Especially in the age of the Great Resignation, exit interviews and surveys are more important than ever at providing business leaders with information about the employee experience. Employees who are leaving are more likely to provide honest (if not unbiased) information about the workplace, especially when it comes to the weaknesses that drove them to search for other opportunities. Because employee turnover can have such a devastating effect on an organization, business leaders need to use exit interviews and surveys to improve the workplace for their remaining staff.
You cannot read the minds of your employees, but with the right tools, you can come close. The judicious application of surveys and reviews throughout your organization can give you and your workforce a sense of control over the environment, allowing the creation of a supportive and positive space where everyone can thrive.