Tony Gunter once felt that company owners hauled trucks full of cash to their banks each week with little appreciation for the employees who helped them earn it.
Now, Gunter, the president of Echo 24 Inc. who co-founded the company with his wife, Lisa sees things differently, and he wants his employees to know that.
To gauge whether employees understand that, he uses surveys to gauge satisfaction at the contracting company, which posted revenue of $5.6 million in 2008. Previous surveys have led to the implementation of recognition programs to show employee appreciation.
Smart Business spoke with Gunter about how to use surveys to better your company.
Q. How do you craft questions to use on employee surveys?
We wanted to take the temperature of the company. There was an opportunity to see what the field technicians thought of the middle management supervisors, to see if they felt like they were treated with respect or if they were comfortable approaching them if they had a problem.
I created five columns where they chose ‘strongly agree,’ ‘agree,’ ‘not sure,’ ‘disagree’ or ‘strongly disagree.’
We had questions like, ‘Echo 24 is a good place to work.’ ‘Middle management treats its workers with respect.’ ‘Upper management treats its employees with respect.’ ‘As soon as something better comes along, I’m out of here.’ ‘Middle management has no clue what it’s like to work in the field.’ ‘I see a future for myself at Echo 24 and would like to continue working here for many years.’ ‘I don’t care about my quality of work as long as I get paid.’ ‘Even though I signed the acknowledgment, I never bothered to read the employee handbook.’ I actually had two people say that they agreed with that.
Q. How do you present the survey to employees?
I announced that we were going to be doing it and to watch out for it.
We stuffed the surveys in their paychecks, along with a preaddressed, postage-paid envelope with instructions. We asked them to fill them out truthfully and simply put them in the mail. We stated that if they attempted to hand them in we would not accept them, and we also said that if they wrote their name on them we would discard the survey.
First, we wanted them to be comfortable with complete honesty, but we also didn’t want some joker filling out a really negative survey and then put someone else’s name on it.
We got about 60 percent response from our employees. I was hoping for more, but I think people have quite frankly gotten tired of doing them.
Some might also conclude that the 40 percent who didn’t respond are simply content and felt no need to convey anything either positive or negative.
The only other way to get more participation, however, would be to have the employees fill them out at work on company time, but then we probably won’t get total honesty.
Q. How do you communicate survey results to employees and show them you listened to their comments?
What I plan to do is put together a PowerPoint presentation and go through it with everybody during our weekly safety meeting.
The (previous) survey, we sat down with everybody and went through all of the results. It was the recognition that they didn’t feel. It was an area that we saw that could use improvement. That was when we created the quarterly recognition program.
When it came to recognition ideas, all kinds of things were tossed around, but it was important to keep the focus on recognition as opposed to monetary-type awards.
One of the things we’ve done is we have come up with a quarterly recognition program for safety compliance. If you’re from Ohio, you know what the buckeye stickers mean on a football helmet we’re doing the same thing. Construction workers love stickers for their hard hats, so we came up with that program where we’re recognizing people for meeting all of our safety criteria on a quarterly basis. We also do a Technician of the Quarter award where I accept nominations from all of the management, and then we pick one candidate on a quarterly basis.
I came up with the idea of the stickers, along with a set of criteria each field employee had to meet in order to qualify, and I presented it to the team. It was very well received, and we voted unanimously to implement it.
Q. Why is it important to do employee surveys?
It’s important if you care about what’s going on. Turnover costs a business a lot of money, not only the cost of recruiting and advertising for a position but the time it takes to interview and research the candidates and do background checks on them.
If you’ve got somebody who’s not happy out there, they can really do some damage, either by hurting your reputation by the things they say to your customers or the quality of work they’re doing that isn’t good.
How to reach: Echo 24 Inc., (740) 964-7081 or www.echo24.com