Survey Says

Features - Employee Satisfaction

With regular surveys, you can track employee job satisfaction and make workplace changes to retain and attract top talent.

July 13, 2020

©Andrey Popov | AdobeStock

Job satisfaction influences many things: work quality, productivity, company reputation, and certainly the people you attract and retain at your organization.

Unhappy employees aren’t likely to stay long at a company and they’ll probably share their displeasure with others, including on websites like Glassdoor and Indeed that rate and review employers. Their negative comments may cause potential new hires to take a pass on working for your organization.

To get ahead of this, some pest management companies regularly survey employees on their job satisfaction.

Surveys give employees a voice and help management identify areas that need improvement, said Angie Persinger, human resources manager at Rose Pest Solutions in Northfield, Ill. “It’s definitely a good way for us to develop those relationships with coworkers and make sure they know we are here for them and that we’re all on the same team. I think that drives the satisfaction and the retention level,” she said.

Each quarter Rose sends its 114 employees an online survey using a service called Emplify, and then chooses one or two areas to work on based on the feedback received. As a result, executive team members now ride along twice yearly with service personnel to better understand the challenges of working in the field. And to help facilitate communication, the executives attend monthly branch meetings held at each of the company’s nine locations.

Good communication is essential to job satisfaction. In fact, 85 percent of employees said regular communication with employers was important to them, found a 2020 Workplace Survey conducted by PCT and the National Pest Management Association. The survey was sponsored by BASF and compiled by Readex, an independent research firm.

BE SURE TO ACT. Employees feel heard when job satisfaction survey data is shared and when managers act on the feedback provided. There’s no point in conducting such surveys if you aren’t going to take action, said Leila Haas, director of human resources at Sprague Pest Solutions in Tacoma, Wash.

Sprague annually surveys its 250 employees. Data is analyzed and branch managers present the findings at each location so employees can discuss the results. Action plans are developed to address specific needs identified in the survey and the plans are followed up throughout the year. “It’s really powerful,” she said of the process.

Terminix Service in Columbia, S.C., solicits feedback from its 1,100-plus employees through third-party survey programs that rank employers. Thanks to employee input, the company has been named one of the “Best Places to Work” by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce since 2014, coming in #13 for large employers in 2019. Last year it also took the 14th spot for large companies on Business North Carolina’s “Best Employers” list, which it has made since 2015.

Each year employees submit questionnaires to the program organizers and Terminix Service receives a compilation of survey data, which helps it identify strengths and weaknesses and see how it stacks up to other employers in the region, said Rion Cobb, vice president of human services.

The insights prompted Terminix Service to update pay plans and benefits, institute training to help employees better understand how its commission and incentive program works, and to improve communication by introducing a companywide internal messaging system that employees can access in the field from their tablets.

It’s important to let employees know the company is listening and that changes are made based on their feedback, said Cobb. “We try to communicate that back to them, so they know they’re not whistling down the road,” he explained.

Shay Runion, chief human resources officer at Arrow Exterminators in Atlanta, agreed. While survey data is helpful, it should be used wisely, she advised.

“If you have an annual survey and you receive the same feedback over and over but never put any plans or action into place to address these concerns, then you have missed an opportunity,” said Runion. “Make sure you always walk away after reviewing survey results with an actionable item. Be transparent with your team on what the concern is and how you plan to address it,” she advised.

Likewise, follow up with employees once you’ve decided how to tackle the issue. “It may not be what the entire team wanted as a solution but working together and being transparent shows that you care about their concerns and that you are willing to consider and address their needs,” said Runion. Arrow Exterminators conducts surveys and interviews to track employee satisfaction.

EXIT SURVEYS. Abell Pest Control in Etobicoke, Ontario, uses Survey Monkey, an online service, to annually assess the job satisfaction of its 550 employees. The 70 percent or so who take the survey are entered into gift card drawings, which helps increase participation.

The company also surveys people who have left the company, and one question asks if human resources can follow up to get additional feedback from them.

Most people agree to do exit interviews and surveys, which helps minimize the comments that might get posted to Glassdoor or Indeed. “We can maybe deal with some concerns that that person had, and it allows them some venting ground, as well to talk about those things and hopefully get it out of their system,” before they vent online to a wider audience, said Sara Cromwell, the company’s human resource manager.

Sometimes patterns emerge from exit surveys. “With those patterns you can make adjustments,” said Cromwell. If the top complaint in one region is the manager, for instance, Cromwell digs deeper to find out why. If it is the manager’s soft skills that need development, for instance, she can provide training to support that employee’s growth. “Hopefully we won’t see more exit interviews, or we’ll see the turnover reduced,” said Cromwell.

Abell also uses surveys to test and refine new policies or internal processes before rolling them out to all of its Canadian and U.S. locations. It will trial a new program at a branch, survey employees, make adjustments based on feedback, and then introduce the improved initiative nationwide.

“Then we don’t have to make changes in many markets or with many employees,” Cromwell explained.

MONITOR ALL THE TIME. Surveys are important but are just one piece of the puzzle, reminded Haas of Sprague Pest Solutions, which also holds one-on-one discussions with employees to track job satisfaction. “Really, to be effective, you have to be measuring it all the time,” she said.

Don’t expect anonymous, yearly surveys to hold all the answers. Instead, continuous feedback sessions let you address what’s working for employees, where they need support and what they’d like to see changed, as well as to make sure they’re connected to the organization’s mission.

“That’s where you’re going to engage people,” said Haas.

The author is a frequent contributor to PCT magazine.