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Small Business: Gauging employee satisfaction

Bosses and small business owners should gauge their

Bosses and small business owners should gauge their employees' satisfaction. Credit: iStock

Ever wonder how satisfied your employees really are in their jobs?

According to a report released by TINYpulse last year, some of the top areas of dissatisfaction include a weak company culture, limited opportunities for professional growth and being displeased with their direct supervisors.

If you're not measuring employee satisfaction in your own workplace, then you could be missing an opportunity to actively engage and retain key talent.

"You don't know what you don't measure," says Laura Troyani, director of marketing at Seattle-based TINYpulse, a provider of employee engagement surveys.

And if you can't pinpoint areas of dissatisfaction, then it's difficult to create programs that may help improve employee morale.

Some of the top ways to measure employee satisfaction include surveys, suggestion boxes, holding one-on-ones, and employee focus groups.

Survey options. There are several. For instance, TINYPulse sends out a one-question survey every Wednesday via email to employees at client companies. Checking in weekly provides a more current picture than annual surveys, Troyani says.

Separately, its other offerings include a peer-to-peer recognition tool, where employees within the organization can give each other a digital high-five for doing a good job, and an anonymous virtual suggestion box, Troyani says.

The baseline survey question that repeats every four weeks is, "On a scale from 1 to 10, how happy are you at work?"

By asking the right questions, you can start looking for trends, says Randi Busse, president of Massapequa Park-based Workforce Development Group Inc., a customer-service training and employee-development firm.

"Employees are desperate to share their opinions," she adds. "They're really open to sharing."

Listen up. Management has to be willing to do something about the issues being raised, says Ellen Cooperperson, CEO of Corporate Performance Consultants, a Hauppauge-based organizational and leadership development firm.

"Otherwise don't ask," she says.

And you need systems in place to get and process the feedback, says Cooperperson, whose own firm custom designs and administers workplace assessments on behalf of clients.

The suggestion box. If you have one, you need to identify who will take the suggestions out of the box, how you'll determine whether they're good ideas or not and how you'll give employees feedback on their suggestions, Cooperperson says.

You can ask survey questions to gauge satisfaction and have employees rate them on a scale of 1 to 4 from "unquestionably true" to "not at all true," she says. She suggests these simple survey questions to gauge satisfaction:

People are held accountable for their promises and commitments;

We generally manage problems before they happen; and,

People are proud to work for this company.

Open-ended questions. These can be good as well, to dig even deeper, Busse says. For instance, she likes asking employees, "If you were in charge, what would you do differently?"

"They know what's working and what's not," she says.

Considering how dissatisfied employees can be with their supervisors, Busse also likes to ask employees, "How is your relationship with your supervisor?" and, "Do you get feedback on how you're doing?"

One-on-ones. For smaller firms, asking those kinds of questions through one-on-one personal conversations can be helpful, says Cord Himelstein, vice president of marketing and communications at Michael C. Fina, a Long Island City-based provider of employee recognition and incentive programs.

Exit interviews. Also keep an eye on turnover and conduct exit interviews when employees leave to gauge satisfaction, Himelstein notes. "It's a great place to start when diagnosing a company culture."

It was through feedback from surveys, individual conversations and suggestions that the firm last year started offering shuttle service from its building to the subway station in the colder months. "We're listening," Himelstein says.

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