In 2014, the Conference Board released its Job Satisfaction survey with its 2013 statistics. For eight consecutive years, the survey data had come up with the same results in regard to U.S. employees— less than half were satisfied at work. In fact, 52.3% reported feeling downright unhappy. In an effort to improve this less than ideal level of job satisfaction, it's not rare to see organizations utilize employee satisfaction surveys. This can be for a number of reasons— to get a peek into how employees are feeling, to gain insight into what they would like to see changed, to better understand the obstacles in their day-to-day, etc. While these surveys can range from a couple of questions to something far more in depth, the point of each are usually fairly simple— to gauge employee morale/happiness and to see where there’s room for improvement. The problem? Often, these survey can be expensive, time consuming and if not used to their fullest potential, can negate the usefulness of any data collected. A recent inforgraphic by Officevibe even reports some statistics that are just plain grim: — 30% is the average employee survey response rate — 27% of managers never reviewed survey results at all — 29% of employees felt employee surveys were pointless Despite some of these statistics, we definitely still saw value in conducting a survey of our own. For starters, as a company still its infancy, we’ve never had a formal baseline for employee satisfaction or actual data to correlate with morale, expectations and perception of resources. Likewise, as a holacracy whose direction is decided by the employees within it, we knew that statistics like management review wouldn’t be an issue and instead, that we could discuss in an open forum format. After all, on the positive side, employee satisfaction surveys can provide more than just data itself. They can uncover issues, unknown concerns and, under the cloak of anonymity, provide a more honest insight into employee opinions than say, a face-to-face conversation might have. At Hivewyre, we also knew that by putting a semi-annual employee survey into action, we’d create a point of reference as the company continues to evolve and grow. We created our survey in SurveyMonkey utilizing various statements. We then asked colleagues to rate each statement from 1 – 10, with 1 being strongly disagree and 10 being strongly agree. For number 10, we posed the following question: “What ONE word would you choose to describe Hivewyre?” We decided that by including this free-form question, we'd receive additional information to help us gauge positivity, optimism or dissatisfaction.

A piece of our first "Employee Satisfaction Survey."

In all, 20 of our 28 employees chose to take the survey. Within the next couple of weeks, we’re planning on having a discussion with our team to go over results, create a venue for additional comments/insight, and to let our colleagues shape next steps. As an organization where there is no management to take responsibility for results, if there are areas that we’d like to see improved, it’s up to each individual and leaders to discuss, agree and begin shifting things in a more ideal direction. That’s the beauty of a democracy, after all. And don't worry— we’ll be sharing the results of our very first Employee Satisfaction Survey (and how the discussion with our colleagues goes) very shortly, so stay tuned! Whether you’re FLAT or in a traditional hierarchy, any organization that chooses to spend resources on an employee satisfaction survey should naturally also be concerned with knowing that the time and effort is well spent. So how can you ensure that your employee satisfaction surveys are worth it? According to a 2012 Forbes article by Kevin Kruse, author of Employee Engagement 2.0, it’s important to remember that your employee data is key to getting better. “…the first step to improving anything is to measure it, and employee satisfaction and employee engagement are no different.” Kruse then goes on to discuss what he calls the ‘three A’s of employee surveys,’ his suggestions on how to actually drive business results utilizing them: - Annual: In order to ensure you can see trends and changes effectively, make an effort to put your survey into play at least annually (but ideally, twice a year). This will allow you to keep a better pulse on employee satisfaction and more, to ensure that results are less likely to be skewed.   - Accountable: For traditional organizations, Kruse suggests holding all managers accountable for the results within the survey (in the past, we’ve seen this done by tracking each manager's percent improvement from survey to survey). As a FLAT organization (or one that’s trying to lean more towards an autonomous environment), this accountability can be done collectively. In other words, in a company like Hivewyre where there are no managers and ultimately, culture and direction are decided upon by each individual, this translates to discussion. What's more, it also includes an agreement on next steps (if necessary) and collaboration with peers to bridge the gap where there’s room for improvement. - Action: While Kruse’s suggestion is to share the results with management in an action planning meeting, for us, sharing the results in general is one of the most important steps of the process. Especially in an organization like ours, where no one person can make any big company decision, knowing how your colleagues feel and more, having the opportunity to discuss is invaluable. Not only can this lead to a more transparent culture, it can help to build a more cohesive team, especially when it comes time to work together to create positive results for the next time the survey comes around. We truly believe in the value of data and more, that you can’t fix a problem if you don’t know it exists. Employee satisfaction surveys are a great way of obtaining insight into parts of the company that can be improved, things that are going great, and how your culture/processes are affecting your org as a whole. Remember, keep an eye out. We’ll be sharing more about our particular Employee Satisfaction Survey results within the next couple of weeks. Until then…