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Job Satisfaction Survey Tips and Ideas

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Your organization does its best to provide its employees with satisfying jobs and great places to work. But with so many variables at play, it can be hard to “know what you don’t know” when it comes to the satisfaction of your employees.

Enter: the job satisfaction survey. Like many surveys, it can be used as a tool to discover what your organization is doing right, what it could improve upon, and where it has room to make big changes with significant impacts.

In this post, we’ll discuss the basics of job satisfaction surveys, and clue you in on when (and how) you should administer your own for optimum benefit.

Step One: Understanding the Basics of Job Satisfaction Surveys

First Things First: What is a Job Satisfaction Survey?

A job satisfaction survey is a tool used by organizations to gather feedback from employees about how happy they are at work. Why should employers care about job satisfaction? According to research conducted at the University of Oxford, workers who are satisfied are more productive and more likely to convert their efforts into tangible sales for their employers. Job satisfaction helps with many other factors that translate to boosted bottom lines, too—from improved retention rates, better perception of corporate culture, and even lower healthcare premiums.

Knowing exactly how satisfied (or unsatisfied) your employees are can certainly be great information to have. What’s even more useful, however, is knowing which factors specifically are causing or detracting from overall job satisfaction within your firm. These insights can be gleaned from individual and aggregate responses to job satisfaction surveys that are tailored to answer questions specific to your company.

In accomplishing this goal, job satisfaction surveys may measure several elements, such as employees’ attitudes toward:

  • Their work environment
  • Their perception of the strength and quality of the company’s culture
  • Their perception of management and leadership
  • Their satisfaction with their compensation, benefits, and perks
  • How they feel about the learning and development opportunities available to them
  • Their desire to undertake opportunities for growth and promotions
  • Their intent to stay with the firm in the long term
  • Their work-life balance
  • The importance of safety in their workplace or the level of safety they feel at work
  • Whether they have a healthy work capacity and responsibility load
  • Their coworking relationships, including the health of their relationships with their colleagues and supervisors
  • Their perception of their job security and stability

employees discussing the results of a survey together in an office setting

When Should We Use a Job Satisfaction Survey?

There are many different “right’ times to use a job satisfaction survey. Other than during incredibly busy times within your organization, there are very few “wrong” times to circulate a survey. Consider the following models for planning the timing of your survey:

  • At periodic intervals. Employers who are serious about measuring and improving the levels of job satisfaction within their firm may use surveys on a regular basis (i.e., quarterly, annually, etc.). Using job satisfaction surveys at periodic intervals can help gauge the movement of various factors and trends within their employees’ overall job satisfaction levels. The more consistently you use job satisfaction surveys, the better you’ll be able to analyze the trends from long-term data. You can also use follow-up surveys to measure increases in job satisfaction following pointed change initiatives.
  • When retention rates are falling. If you’ve noticed particularly high turnover, a job satisfaction survey is a great way to identify the root of the issue, so you can nip it in the bud before you lose more valuable talent.
  • After a merger, acquisition, reduction in force, or other major organizational change. Many employees find themselves less than satisfied when they’re forced to get used to a major organizational change like a merger or acquisition. Organizational changes often bring about a new culture and new responsibilities, factors which may be positive or negative. Similarly, the perception of an employee’s job security or work-life balance may change significantly following a reduction in force, even if their role was spared.
  • If you’ve noticed a trend in employee complaints. If you’ve noticed two or more employees raising the same or similar issues, it might be a good time to use a job satisfaction survey. A survey can help you determine the pervasiveness and effects of the purported problem. It can also help you identify if the problem is isolated to a single role or department, or whether it’s more widespread.
  • After you’ve introduced a return to office mandate. If you’ve recently required employees to come back into the office (even on a hybrid basis), you may have taken a hit to your job satisfaction ratings without fully knowing the extent of it. Understanding how employees feel about in-person work requirements can help you understand if the switch is “worth it” for your business.

What are the Benefits of Sending Out a Job Satisfaction Survey?

The benefits of administering a job satisfaction survey are numerous and often unique to each company. The ways in which you use the insights gleaned from your job satisfaction survey will be tailored to accomplish your HR, growth, and culture goals. Consider the following benefits, which can support your organization’s objectives:

  • Identify opportunities for helpful training and development initiatives
  • Contribute to a culture of feedback and communication, where employees understand that their input is heard, considered, and valued
  • Highlight what your employees already love about your organization, their roles, and their work
  • Identify areas for realistic improvement
  • Allow employers to identify actionable methods for increasing job satisfaction, in turn leading to higher productivity and lower employee attrition numbers
  • Allow employers to compare the job satisfaction ratings within their organization to those of competitors (also known as “benchmarking”)

Step 2: Sending Out Your Job Satisfaction Survey

How Should We Administer our Job Satisfaction Survey?

In 2024 and beyond, the best way to administer a job satisfaction survey is via a convenient, user-friendly online platform. Modern survey software drastically improves the experience of taking a survey on the user end, preventing typical survey fatigue associated with traditional survey methods. Great software also iimproves the quality of insights for the organization administering the survey.

If your survey software isn’t making your HR processes easier, it’s time to explore other options. Peoplelytics’ survey tools share detailed breakdowns of your data with you, so you don’t have to export data and try to sort through it yourself. Our software even makes recommendations for your next steps and can create detailed reports about your data. With the right survey software, you can take your insights to the next level.

Example Job Satisfaction Survey Questions

  • I am satisfied with my current job role.
  • I am satisfied with the company’s overall culture.
  • I am satisfied with the company’s work-life balance policies.
  • I am satisfied with my immediate supervisor/manager.
  • I am satisfied with my coworkers and colleagues on my team.
  • I am satisfied with my coworkers and colleagues in the broader company.
  • I look forward to coming to work on most days.
  • I am satisfied with the company’s communication and transparency policies.
  • I am satisfied with the company’s benefits and compensation packages.
  • I am satisfied with the company’s opportunities for professional development.
  • I am satisfied with the company’s recognition and reward systems.
  • I am satisfied with the company’s approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • I am satisfied with the company’s overall direction and future prospects.
  • I am likely to recommend the company as a good place to work to a friend or colleague.

Should we make our Job Satisfaction Survey Anonymous?

Whether you make your job satisfaction survey anonymous is completely up to your organization and its goals. There are pros and cons to making your survey anonymous, and what works for one company may not work for another. Consider the following:

“Pros” to administering your job satisfaction survey anonymously:

  • Pro: anonymity can encourage honesty. Studies show that anonymous survey methods may “promote greater disclosure” of sensitive information compared to surveys that aren’t administered anonymously.
  • Pro: anonymity can boost participation. Participants may be more likely to engage with surveys if they know they won’t be outed for their responses; higher N numbers will leave you with more data to analyze—and a better chance of catching on to trends. Anonymous surveys may also produce higher overall completion rates, meaning respondents may be less likely to “skip” certain questions.  
  • Pro: anonymity can force managers to leave their biases at the door. When managers read survey responses, their perceptions may be colored by their attitudes about the respondent and their experiences with that individual. When a survey is administered anonymously, managers may be better able to take feedback without bringing their own biases about the respondent into play.

“Cons” to administering your job satisfaction survey anonymously:

  • Con: anonymity can leave valuable insights on the table. If you lack background information about a respondent, it can be hard to fully and accurately interpret their responses.  It can also hinder your ability to identify trends in your data. For example, if all employees in a certain department report low satisfaction with their manager’s delegation style (but you don’t know who those employees are), you won’t be able to pinpoint an issue with a specific manager or within a specific department. Instead, you may think the problem is less important, given just a few individuals company-wide appear to share the sentiment.
  • Con: anonymity can make it more difficult to address individual problems. If an employee discloses a serious concern, such as discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, but has answered a survey completely anonymously, it can be difficult to identify how to solve the issue.
  • Con: it can be tough to ensure complete anonymity. This is especially true when organizations have smaller employee populations. Even if you don’t collect names or any other identifying information, details provided in response to open-ended questions may still give a respondent’s identity away.

Alternatives to Completely Anonymous Surveys:

If neither full anonymity nor full identification sounds like a great call to you, you do have other options for administering your job satisfaction survey. Consider, for example, the concept of partial identification. In a partially anonymous survey, employees may be asked to identify only certain factors, such as their department, tenure length, their manager, or their office location.

When designing a partially anonymous job satisfaction survey, it helps to consider which factors you’d like to compare. If you’d like to determine whether a certain manager or group of managers is causing low satisfaction, you might require identification of an employee’s manager only, preserving anonymity among team members.

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Step 3: Utilizing the Data Gathered in Your Job Satisfaction Survey:

Should we Share the Results of our Job Satisfaction Survey with Our Employees?

If you’ve collected job satisfaction survey responses with the promise of anonymity or a representation that answers would remain confidential, you must honor your word to your employees. In these cases, it’s always best to tread carefully when disclosing insights to your broader employee population.

Generally, the results of anonymous or partially anonymous surveys should only be analyzed in the aggregate to identify trends and solve issues for a group of employees. A breach of employee trust can discourage employees from participating, responding honestly, or providing constructive criticism in the future.

If answers were provided without the promise of anonymity or confidentiality, it is still a best practice to check in with an employee before sharing their individual responses company-wide.

How Can we Measure the Return on Investment (ROI) of our Job Satisfaction Survey?

If designed well, your job satisfaction survey will reveal specific insights that provide a pathway for actionable changes for your organization. Based on the insights gleaned from your survey, you can develop a realistic initiative with targeted goals in mind. Realizing the success of any of the following satisfaction-oriented goals will leave you with tangible, measurable ROI:

  • Lower the cost of retaining employees year after year
  • Improve retention rates, in turn lowering the cost of recruiting and onboarding new hires
  • Increase productivity during the workday, measurable in outputs, conversion rates, or sales numbers
  • Improve customer satisfaction and the quality of customer service
  • Reduce costs associated with absenteeism
  • Lower healthcare premium costs
  • Improve the quality of employee outputs
  • Lower the total time it takes for an employee to complete a task

What Should We Do with the Data Gathered from our Job Satisfaction Survey?

To effect lasting change within your organization, you must be able to turn the data gathered from your job satisfaction survey into insights. “Insights” are valuable pieces of information about what your organization’s strengths and weaknesses are, and how your efforts will be best spent while you try to improve.

These ideas are translated by your managers, leadership team, and often, your survey software, into action plans to help make an impact that can deliver real ROI. If the survey software you use doesn’t piece together tailored insights for you from the data it collects, you may be leaving great ideas on the table.

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