Man staring nervously at piles of foldersThe need to track employee engagement levels is pretty much a given and so is the approach to measuring employee engagement, which is to conduct some kind of anonymous survey using a browser-based survey tool. The problem with this approach in a small or medium sized company is that it’s much harder to feel the sense of anonymity that you might feel in larger companies. Imagine the scene where the CEO discusses the results of the engagement survey and reports that the ‘technical department’ is dissatisfied with the leadership, where this ‘technical department’ actually consists of one sheepish looking technical worker, cowering away in the corner. This, of course, never happens to this extreme, but I have witnessed supposedly anonymous negative survey results from specific departments often being attributed to one or two known dissenters.

The result of this uncertainty about anonymity during surveys means that many workers are likely to hold back their true feelings about your business, which limits the value of small business engagement surveys. So, how can employers get an honest gauge of how their employees feel about them? You could, of course, get them drunk at the end of year party and then ask them how they feel about your business, but I dare say that’s a high-risk approach. This is why I think there is immense value in independent, third party surveys – as employees are genuinely anonymous – and are much more likely to communicate their true feelings about their employer. This means that they have a distinct advantage over in-house employer led surveys and employers should pay them attention.

Therefore, below I have compiled some of the highlights of third party, independent engagement surveys to give you some insights about what your employees may really think about your business.

1. According to a survey by Gallup, nearly 50 percent of recent graduates are disengaged due to being underemployed; that is, graduates are doing jobs they believe they don’t need a degree to do.

The next four things that employees hate about your business come from the study America’s Workforce: A Revealing Account of What U.S. Employees Really Think About Today’s Workplace.

2. Just 38 percent of respondents strongly agree that their boss has established a good working relationship with them, so a lot of your staff may think very little of your firm’s line management capabilities.

3. Forty percent of respondents think their company is directionless in that they don’t understand the vision or simply haven’t seen it.

4. Only 26 percent of employees surveyed think their managers lead by example.

5. Just 27 percent feel that they can depend on outsiders to fulfill their duties when working with other groups, so basically, they feel there is a failure of teamwork.

6. The AON Global Engagement survey showed that 40 percent of employees worldwide are disengaged and have a reduced desire to stay with firms and go above and beyond the call of duty – and so employees may feel resentful if you are pushing them to do more and work harder without more pay.

7. In the Paper Worker Attitudes to Employer Ownership… Profit Sharing and pay, which looked at 40,000 employee surveys from 14 firms, they found that most workers want at least part of their pay to be performance related, and if you are failing to offer a bonus, it’s likely to be a bit of a disappointment to your staff.

8. Forty-three percent of U.S. workers fear that their benefits will be cut as opposed to just 27 percent in 2008; so, they have become less trusting of their employers in terms of their well-being.

9. Fifty-six percent of employees feel they may be taken advantage of, evidenced by a Harris Interactive survey which showed that 56 percent of employees are worried that they’ll be forced to take on more work without additional pay.

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