The power of the climate survey.

When was the last time you conducted a climate survey in your organisation?

Climate surveys are a powerful Human Resources tool. Conducted online, via multiple choice questionnaires, or with one-on-one interviews, they ask employees for their views on work-related topics such as the work environment, job roles, succession planning, management style, remuneration, HR policies, problem solving strategies within the organisation, and the organisation’s image…

Many management teams feel that climate surveys are only necessary for young organisations or if a major organisational change has just been implemented. However, they can be useful as repeat exercises to ensure that management and employees are on the same page, allowing management to collect ‘inside information’ about how their people feel at work. The goal? A better work environment, better teamwork and employee satisfaction, and increased productivity.

Why are climate surveys important?
Climate surveys allow employees to express their feelings about their work environment and offer a chance for management teams to engage with employee concerns and suggestions. Taking positive steps towards resolving these concerns, or seriously considering work-related suggestions, can help organisations foster staff retention and, ultimately, be more successful.

What kind of climate survey should I use?
There are a number of climate survey tools available on the market. A number of these can be completed online, allowing management teams to collect employee feedback in a private and convenient way.

However, these surveys tend to work with templates or a range of standardised questions and if they are not administered properly, they can cause more harm than good. If you are planning to use a climate survey in your organisation, it is important to ensure that it is relevant to the culture and needs of your business. Not only can a template-style survey miss some of the main concerns in your workplace, employees might question its validity and relevance to their individual work lives. This could mean they will be less likely to participate in the survey or buy into the results at the end.

To ensure that you enjoy the best possible results, you should speak to an expert about designing and conducting a climate survey that speaks directly to your organisation and employees. There are a number of advantages to using an external HR specialist to conduct a climate survey – employees tend to be more honest with an outsider and bias about the organisation and expected outcomes is removed.

And the next step?
Climate surveys are only as effective as the changes they encourage. Once a survey has been conducted, employees will be eager to see if anything actually changes in the organisation. It is important to review survey results (and any related action plans) and communicate when and how these results will be shared with employees. To be truly effective, a climate survey must by coupled with a commitment on management’s part to take results seriously and act if necessary.

Climate surveys can help to shape the future of your organisation for the better. They should be conducted at regular intervals, with enough time to implement selected changes and to review their impact.

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