Create value with employee surveys

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Employee surveys can provide insights into how employees are feeling about their benefits and pension plans. This allows advisors and employers to identify areas of strength as well as places in the plan that needs improvement.

In times of change they can also be an effective communication tool. But for surveys to be of use to employers, they must be well executed. Here, we share a few tips on the importance of setting an objective, encouraging participation, and working through the results.

Setting an objective

Likely the most important aspect of surveying employees is setting an objective. This objective defines what employers want to learn from the survey and what they plan to do with the results. In some cases, that objective may be to understand employees’ needs to drive some sort of change, or it may be about communicating changes that are already in motion.

Knowing the objective allows advisors to structure the survey to tell employers what they need to know.

For example, says Susan Cranston, assistant vice-president, group small business marketing and advisor services with Manulife Financial, if the objective is to potentially introduce some kind of flex plan or health care spending account, then the questions should focus on whether employees feel they have enough coverage. Ask employees if they’re satisfied with the options they have, whether it’s in health, dental or disability.

Still, there are some questions every survey should ask. Cranston says surveys should find out if employees understand their benefits options, know where to get information about those benefits, and know who to call if they have questions. She also says they should gauge employees’ general level of satisfaction.

Martha Mulligan, senior consultant, communication consulting practice with Morneau Shepell adds, “Ask whether employees feel their program is competitive based on their knowledge of other plans. This will identify where employees think their plan fits.”

Setting an objective also allow employers do something concrete with the results.

“If you’re surveying to gauge understanding or awareness, then what you do with the results may be different than if you’re testing to find out whether employees are satisfied with the plan or whether there is something they think is missing,” says Mulligan. But, she adds, “As soon as you start asking the questions, you set expectations. If you don’t intend on doing anything with the results, you really shouldn’t ask the question in the first place.”

Read Part 2 for what to do with the results and how to manage negative feedback.

Transcontinental Media G.P.