Employee Surveys Part 2- How To Find Business Issues

In last week’s post, we covered Part 1 of conducting employee surveys. This week, we’ll cover Part 2, focusing on how to find business issues.

Now that you’re ready to set up your survey, you’ll want to make sure it’s as valuable as possible. Hopefully your employees will have lots of positive feedback to share with you, but the reality is that you’ll likely uncover a few issues as well - and this is a good thing.

By using surveys to find issues within your business, you’re sending a message to employees that you care about their opinions and work environment, and that you value their feedback. Over the long-term, this means they’ll be more invested in your company and will feel that they’re a valuable member of your staff.

There are a few things to consider when working to find business issues through surveys. Below are a few thoughts on how to get at what the real issues are for your employees, and how you can begin to address them to make sure you’re fostering a positive work environment for everyone.

Make surveys a safe place for feedback

In Part 1, we talked about the importance of making your surveys anonymous. Even when you do this, some employees might still be afraid of the repercussions if they bring up any issues or provide anything but positive feedback on your business and other staff. To overcome this, make sure you communicate to every employee that the goal of the survey is to create a great place to work: this will help them see that their responses are part of building the greater good, not an opportunity to single out any individual feedback.

Sometimes it helps to hold a brief intro meeting before surveys are distributed, so you can set the stage and ensure that every employee knows that they survey is a safe place to share their true thoughts and feelings. Hearing these words in front of the entire staff will promote a feeling of teamwork and openness that leads to honest conversations about the state of your workplace.

Ask specific questions

It’s easy to write a list of general, open-ended questions that you think will allow employees to tell you how things are going. But the reality is that when you ask general questions, you’ll get general responses - and that won’t lead you to actionable change. You already know some of the common problems that face new employees- so instead of asking “how are things going?” you might ask questions like “which of your tasks takes you the most time each day?” This allows employees to give you specific answers that will lead you to areas of focus. Then, you can dig into the details around each area and really get to the root of what’s causing issues in your business.

In addition, ask for examples whenever possible. This is a great way to force employees to think critically about examples of times when things haven’t gone the way they wanted, and can be a good way to separate the personal, work style issues from the process and efficiency issues.

Balance the good and the bad

No one wants to feel like the squeaky wheel, so when you look at the types and mix of questions you’re asking, try not to focus on the negatives. It’s just as important to give employees an opportunity to tell you what’s working well - so make sure you also ask what the best parts of their day are, what they look forward to, and what they think your company does better than anyone else. This will give you an opportunity to thank and reward employees who are helping to make your restaurant a great place to work - and it also helps those taking your survey to feel that they’re offering comprehensive feedback and not just complaining about the challenges of their job.

For more tips on gathering employee feedback, see this post.

In our next post, we’ll cover Part 3 of employee surveys: using feedback to hire better employees.