Do you know what your staff really think of you? Use an employee attitude survey to find out, says Hays Montrose’s Rob Smith.

It is about six thirty on a Friday evening and colleagues John and Frank are in the pub. Both are on their second pint of Stella and tongues are starting to loosen. “He’s never here, that manager,” says John. Frank nods in agreement. “I know. Last week, he was out for lunch every day and came back half cut each time,” he says.“And who is doing all the work?” asks John.“We are,” they say in unison and stare glumly at their lager.If you fear that your employees indulge in this sort of exchange, you should consider an attitude survey.

What is an attitude survey?

An attitude survey is a questionnaire sent out to all members of staff, asking what they feel about working for your company, their working conditions, pay, benefits and management. It can also include views on careers and job security.

How useful is it?

The survey can highlight negative views, such as what frustrates them, demotivates them or leads them to look elsewhere for work, but it can also show what people value most about the company, what gives them most satisfaction and what motivates them. It is also a good way of discovering if the attitude of staff changes at different levels.

What are the benefits to you?

Companies may think they have created a very good working environment, but those on the “shop floor” may feel different. This misunderstanding can often lead to a very dissatisfied workforce and confused managers. Minor problems can niggle away at employees, but if line managers do not communicate these concerns to senior management, staff will become increasingly discontented.

So the opportunity to ask employees for their views and comments, even when this is done anonymously, is invaluable. Remember that even the most junior member of staff can contribute feedback.

The attitude survey is also a chance for managers to show that they are listening, especially if those sources of discontent brought out by the survey are dealt with quickly.

What format should it take?

It should be brief, perhaps just two sides of A4, and should ask a range of questions about the working environment. All staff should be offered the choice of filling in the survey, even though not all will do so. Although it should be anonymous, it is useful to ask the length of time respondents have worked for your company, which department they work in and their position, so you can make comparisons. These are some of the questions you could ask:

  • Do you enjoy your job?

  • Are your colleagues supportive?

  • Would you recommend the company to a friend? If not, why not?

  • Is your manager approachable and responsive to your needs?

  • Do you think you are paid fairly?

  • Is the benefits package fair?

  • If offered slightly more money to do a similar job elsewhere, would you consider it?

  • What hinders you most in your job and what would help make you more efficient in your role?

How should the survey be followed up?

General feedback highlighting the findings should be given to all staff. This can be done via e-mail. If changes are made as a direct result of the survey, then make the most of this, as it can provide you with an ideal opportunity for some positive internal PR. For example, if one of the issues raised was a better coffee machine, then get one and make sure everyone knows about it. You may not wipe out all the talk started by company malcontents but you could reduce it.