Our Commitment

We are committed at all times to ensuring our research is:

Never using complex jargon where simpler language will do, while ensuring data and analysis are presented clearly and concisely;

Ensuring our methodology and questions are closely aligned with project objectives, providing results that can be trusted;

Creating research that can be easily used by a wide variety of stakeholders, so that reports aren’t just left to languish in a filing cabinet.

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Five tips for great employee surveys

Over the past 25 years, I have filled out, commissioned and conducted more employee surveys than I care to remember. Some of the surveys I have taken over the years were good, others were shockers. But collectively they have given me a pretty good understanding of how to create employee satisfaction surveys which honestly andobjectively uncover what’s really going inside an organisation. So here are my five tips for creating a great employee satisfaction survey:

1. Guarantee confidentiality

This is of primary importance in maximising participation and honesty of response. Even though most employee surveys are now conducted by third parties, it’s still a challenge to convince sceptical workers that their comments or scores won’t one day be used against them. But with the right processes and language, even the most cynical employee can be convinced.

2. Maximise participation

There’s no point to an employee survey with 60% participation – what the other 40% think is probablyway more important. In addition to the confidentiality factor noted above, other factors might include ease of completion methods (e.g. paper plus online options) and confidence in the process. None of our surveys have ever dipped lower than 80% – so hopefully we must be doing something right.

 3. Find out what really gets them out of bed

Employee surveys are a great way to flesh out exactly why employees jump out of bed and come to work each morning. Hard to believe, but in almost all surveys we have conducted, pay is only a second or third priority. We have distilled over 40 motivational drivers down to about 12 key factors – and once you know what truly motivates your employees, it’s a lot easier to find cheap and effective ways to keep good staff and boost morale.

4. Keep it simple

In many cases, our surveys are conducted by everyone from the CEO down to “Groundskeeper Willie.” Some participants have limited literacy, and others little English. So a good employee survey should keep the language as clear, concise and simple as possible. Sounds obvious – but you’d be amazed what complicated rubbish I’ve seen over the years.

5. Flexibility is the key

Though many of the questions will be similar from employer to employer, it’s important to tailor each survey to the specific circumstances of each organisation. We’ve dealt with everything from retirement planning and bullying, through to measuring understanding of a five-year plan.
Over the past eight years we have conducted employee satisfaction surveys for organisations from 50-600 employees. If you’d like a quick, no-obligation quote, please email me at the address below.

Graph of the month: Are we all middle class?

The ACTU’s Matt Cowgill has written a fascinating piece exploring the question of what – and who – is considered “middle class” these days. Although the article can be found here, what I found really interesting was the accompanying graph, comparing the actual income distribution of Australian households (in which 10% of people are in each decile of income) with the results of a survey that asked people to place themselves into income deciles:



What this clearly shows is that households with lower incomes typically overstate their (relative) wealth, while richer households understate their own income (again, relative to other households). As a result, some 83 per cent of respondents thought they were in the middle four deciles of household income.

The fact that someone on $40,000 p.a. thinks they’re in the same “middle class” as someone earning $200,000 has huge implications for social, taxation and welfare policy. And woe betide any government that tries to convince people they are better or worse off than they really are!

Are fixed line phone surveys still the ‘gold standard’?

At last year’s Industry Research conference, there was some vigorous debate about the growth of mobile-only households, and implications for traditional fixed line CATI (phone) surveys.

CATI has traditionally been seen as the ‘gold standard’ for representative research – whereby results can be extrapolated to a survey population to within a pre-defined margin of random sampling error.

The growth of cheaper online research, generally involving the use of self-selecting panels, has masked the fact that findings are almost invariably unrepresentative of the wider community – despite this being the reason most research is commissioned in the first place!

While there are no official statistics on what proportion of Australian households are now “mobile only”, it is commonly thought to be around 20 per cent – up from +/- 5 per cent in 2009. According to some Newspoll research, mobile-only households are most common among: younger residents; renters; apartment dwellers; and those living in their current dwelling for less than five years. (No great surprises in any of that.)

The industry is currently lobbying with Canberra for geographically-specific mobile numbers to be made available for genuine market and social research.

Until then, we need to accept that random CATI research will struggle to reach the groups listed above. Post-weighting records to ABS Census data (for, say, age and gender) is a cost-effective way around the problem. The more expensive alternative is quota sampling, whereby you keep ringing until you reach the harder-to-find groups.

The bottom line? With 80 per cent of households still having fixed line phones, and assuming we are not overly ambitious with our post-weighting, CATI is still the best way of conducting random and representative research. But if you specifically want to target younger Australians, renters or apartment dwellers, different methods may be required.

Until next time…

If you have any questions, comments or other feedback about the issues raised in this newsletter, please email or call me. Otherwise, thanks so much for taking the time to read this.