Employee Surveys are not Just for Office Workers

5 min. read

Employees who work in the field, at front counters, on jobsites, or in-transit can all get the benefits of happiness improvement

What's the best way to improve a workplace? Doing anonymous employee surveys, acknowledging the results, acting to improve things, and repeating. That's something we explored in our eBook, 10 Reasons to do an Employee Happiness Survey (shoot us an email if you'd like a copy!).

Sometimes people ask us, "Aren't employee surveys only for office workers and remote workers?" Not at all. Surveying, acknowledging, and acting is equally effective for other kinds of workers. This is true for field technicians, foodservice workers, customer service and support, construction workers, or even on the factory floor. It's just a matter of being prepared and flexible.

Work with Direct Team Managers

The first step for any survey is telling employees that we are going to do it, that their participation is important, and that the goal is to make their work and their workplace better. Reaching non-office employees directly can be challenging or impossible: they may not have an email address or a number on-file for an internet-connected phone. They may even spend most of the day travelling.

That's why our first step is to identify managers who (1) work close enough to see and speak to the employees in person at least once a week and (2) we can reliably communicate with. That may be a location manager, district manager, field supervisor, or an office manager. We give these managers a short (one-page) message announcing the upcoming survey, setting out the goals, and telling them when and how to expect to do it. These managers take the message to their teams so everyone is ready to take the survey.

Find out What they Have Access to, and Meet Them There

But how to take the survey? For office workers, we'd normally email their survey link to them, but these employees don't sit at a desk and they are really busy! There are a few ways to do it, and different methods work better for different workplaces:

  1. When all employees have access at work to an internet-connected device, we provide their managers or human resource teams with links for each employee. The managers or HR teams see to it that the employees get their links, and the employees can enter this link on the device that they have available to them. We also have the workplace coordinate a small block of free time at work just for completing the survey. In many workplaces this is especially important because employees would resent using their limited, free time to answer a bunch of questions.
  2. When not all employees have consistent access to an internet-connected device at work, we provide the link through whatever method they have access to personally. This may be through text messages to their personal phones or emails to their personal email accounts. Managers assist employees with finding a way to get the survey done. In some cases, where employees don't even have personal devices, managers can make one or more computers available for employees to use and enter their own survey links. If employees end up using personal time to do the survey, we consider providing a small incentive like a $10 coffee gift card.
  3. In a pinch, when employees lack any internet access, we sometimes conduct a paper survey. Amazing Workplace ships out pre-printed surveys with confidential codes on them, and the workplace makes space and time in their own facilities for employees to complete the surveys. How do we make sure the answers stay private and anonymous? Names are not written the survey forms, and managers and HR staff ask employees to place their completed surveys directly in a box or envelope. When each group of surveyed employees is done the box is sealed. It's important to honor security and privacy for employees' surveys.

Keep it Simple, Fast, and Fun

None of this works unless the survey is simple, fast, and fun. Our Employee Happiness Survey can be completed in about 7 minutes, unless the employee wants to write a lot of text comments. Important: We don't use confusing questions like, "How much do you agree with the following?" Instead, they are written in plain language and use simple, relatable introductions to the questions:

How do you feel...?

Do you like...?

Do you know...?

Do you have...?

The answers are equally simple and relatable. We provide illustrated faces that indicate feelings from very happy to very unhappy. Each face is paired with a short statement of what it stands for, like "Yes, I love it!" or "Most of the time."

Give them Confidence in being Anonymous

Any worker can feel vulnerable or anxious about an employee survey. They may feel that their responses will be connected to them and they could get in trouble if they say the wrong thing. This is especially true of non-office workers, who work under time pressure and often get little face time with their managers and leaders.

We put these fears to rest by explaining how our survey is conducted anonymously. We tell them that we provide them a survey link, they use the survey, and their results are encrypted. Results are not connected to their identity, and that even if we wanted to, we cannot link their results back to them. We also explain that the plan is to get their anonymous feedback, make improvements, and to return again later to take another survey. If we messed that up, they would not trust us when we return to take the next survey.

At Amazing Workplace, we work with all kinds of workplaces. Our Employee Happiness Survey is the first step of our Happiness Improvement process. This process improves employee retention, increases productivity, and it improves the attractiveness and reputation of the workplaces. Want to know more? Send us an email at info@amazingworkplace.com.