Unhappy or disengaged employees are a huge cost to companies. In fact, according to the Gallup Organization, “actively disengaged” employees cost the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion per year. However, according to Inc.com, that number doesn’t even take into account the “not engaged” employees.
Shockingly, Gallup also found that 87% of employees around the world (70% in the U.S.) are not engaged at work.
In an effort to determined their strengths and weaknesses in their employee relations, many employers hire firms to deploy annual employee engagement surveys.
While annual surveys are an extremely effective way to find out the employees’ general mood on an annual basis—therein lies a problem. The surveys are done on an annual basis, which means once a year.
Very often, things change during the course of a year that can spark employee unrest which, if not caught quickly, can lead to lower productivity, higher turnover or even unionization attempts.
Here’s something to do in between those annual employee engagement surveys:
Sit down with employees in small group meetings and, with pen and paper in hand, ask these three questions:
1. Overall, do you think the company is headed in the right direction or wrong direction?
This is a general and often-telling indicator of the overall mood of employees. If employees—even a few—indicate that they believe the company is headed in the wrong direction, there are issues that need further investigation as they may not be readily identifiable.
If that’s the case, ask more probing questions to identify where your “hot spots” are and what the issues are in those “hot spots.”
2. On a scale of 1-10 (1 being the worst and 10 being the best), how would you rate our communication?
[Pay attention here.] If employees say that communication is ‘good,’ ask them how they would improve it. However, if employees indicate that communication is just “okay” or bad, ask them why and what they would do to improve it.
Additionally, even when employees say that communication is ‘good,’ they will often cite areas that are troublesome, or managers who are weak.
When this happens, be sure to ask follow-up questions to further identify the issue.
3. What are the top three things that, if you owned the company, you would change?
Asking employees what they would change if they owned the company does a couple of things:
First, it indicates what employees feel is wrong with the company.
Secondly, it opens dialogue for employees to make suggestions that may result in changes affecting both morale and even, perhaps, your company’s performance.
While there are numerous other ways to identify and resolve workplace issues, in the period between doing your annual engagement survey, simply asking a few general questions is a good place to start.