Volume 67, October 2006: Employee Satisfaction Surveys

Keyzine: An E-zine for Leaders about the People Side of Business

This is a monthly electronic magazine for anyone who wants to be a better leader, coach, facilitator, or simply, to tune up their people skills. It is a complimentary publication, devoted to the next evolution of Quality Thinking.

Publisher: © Key Associates, LLC, 2006 ISSN # 1545-8873

“With a hypothetical question you can only get, at best, a hypothetical answer.” — Father William Seifert

“Live your questions now, and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into your answers.” — Rainer Maria Rilke

Satisfaction – noun – from Latin, reparation, amends

  1. the payment through penance of the temporal punishment incurred by a sin.
  2. the fulfillment of a desire, need, or want.
  3. compensation for a loss or injury.
  4. convinced assurance or certainty.


  • What’s Hot in Leadership
  • Maintaining Yourself as a Leader
  • Frequently Asked Questions from Leaders
  • Educational Opportunities
  • Useful Websites & Newsletters
  • Articles/Publications

What’s Hot in Leadership

  • Two-way conversations with employees, just to learn.
  • Turning whines into plans for improvement.
  • Partnering with employees to create a better work environment.

Maintaining Yourself as a Leader

Many leaders have sought feedback from their workforce, through structured questionnaires. Their intention was to learn if their employees were satisfied, and if not, why not? The results usually came in a report that had some scores. Perhaps means, maybe standard deviations. By norms, T-scores, benchmarks, or general comparisons, they were left with an impression that they were good or bad, and certainly short of perfect. If they were lucky,they had some anecdotal remarks attached to thescore – that expanded the ratings to explain what was faulty or should be improved. Nary a clue what to do instead. Frustrating! The lesson: if you want to know, have a dialogue with your employees. Or structure the inquiry to gather opportunities for improvement. Read on.

Frequently Asked Questions

“I am left with employee satisfaction survey results that are not terrible. But they’re not good. I want to act on the results, but I’m not clear what to do.”
Peter Block has referred to employee surveys as “anonymous whining.” The anonymity or confidentiality is promised in the hopes of gathering honest responses, in a non-threatening way. The problem is that you are left with a score or a criticism that has no explanation. Nor do you have an opportunity to dialogue with your respondent to ask questions and learn more. How can you make a plan for improvement? Many administrators have turned to focus groups or other group methods of dialogue, to further explain and understand the results, plus use employee ideas to address findings. See Convening People for new conversational group meeting styles.
“What do I put on a survey questionnaire?”
Turn complaints and whines into statements, e.g.:
  • I feel a sense of job security and stability here.
  • We get a lot accomplished in meetings.
  • My work is exciting, meaningful, and challenging.

Always follow a closed question (rating, ranking, yes/no, agree/disagree) with an open-ended question. For example, “I have adequate information to do my job.” – Never – Rarely – Sometimes – Usually – Always. (Then follow with:) “How might this be improved?” not “Explain your rating.” Rather than a tally of means and standard deviations, we prefer a literal frequency distribution of how many people answered in each category – so that you can see the spread and concentration of responses.

“We have made major improvements in our office environment, pay scales, and working conditions. Yet people still don’t seem to be satisfied. What am I to do?”
Frederick Hertzberg (1987) distinguished Satisfiers from Motivators. He maintained that JOB DISSATISFACTION (Satisfiers) resulted from:
  • Working conditions
  • Policies
  • Administration/Supervision
  • Interpersonal relations
  • Money/security
  • Status

Whereas, job satisfaction (Motivators) resulted from:

  • Work itself
  • Responsibility
  • Recognition
  • Professional growth
  • Achievement

The latter group can be termed “intrinsic” motivators. They are less tangible and more individualized than the extrinsic side of pay and working conditions. And they are the reasons people leave jobs (Branham, 2005). Be sure and ask questions about the flip side of pay and benefits – Pride in Work!


Learn more about surveys: Vovici.

Learn from a case study implementing a survey: Employee Satisfaction Surveys.

What is the value of employee feedback? Employee Satisfaction and Exit Surveys Make Good Sense.

Key Associates offers:

Useful Websites & Newsletters

Instantly create your own survey: Survey Monkey.

Free web-based templates: SurveyShare Templates.

Free demo survey: Employee Satisfaction Surveys.

Create a survey now. Free 30-day trial: Key Survey.

Free templates: Online Survey Service for Business.

Keyzines on related topics: Spirit at Work, Motivation, Employees as Customers, Cynicism, Driving Out Fear, and Measurement.



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