This post was written by Erin Vaughan, a writer for home improvement site Modernize.
You don’t have to be a corporate mogul to know that a happy employee is a productive employee. Analysts have studied the costs associated with low office morale for years, and the results are always the same: when employees feel supported, recognized, and overall more satisfied at work, they get in earlier, waste less time gossiping, and tend to stay with the company. On the flip side, disengaged employees cost U.S. companies about $450 billion to $550 billion a year in lost productivity, according to Gallup.
What’s troubling is that only about 30 percent of employees surveyed say they feel actively engaged in their jobs. That means that if you own a company, two thirds of your office could be ready to leave at any time. The problem is particularly bad when corporations use fear as a motivational tool—employees who are afraid to call out errors or speak their mind freely report higher levels of dissatisfaction, especially if they think their job hangs in the balance.
Informal surveys and internal web forms give teams the ability to speak out in a way that feels comfortable for everyone. And when employees feel that leadership is hearing their message, they double down on commitment, communication, and overall engagement.
Surveys Are a Democratic Way to Assess Policies
Chances are, you probably already know the “squeaky wheel” in your office—and if you don’t, don’t worry. You’ll find out soon enough, when they take you aside to complain about yesterday’s meeting.
Actually, if your office has no shortage of squeaky wheels, it’s probably a good thing. As long as the conversation stays focused and productive, employee complaints provide invaluable feedback about communication problems, strategy, or what you can do to help retain more team members.
But in meetings and on calls, there’s pressure to let the loudest (or highest paid) voice do all the talking. Groupthink is very real, and its results can be paralyzing. Creative problem solving thrives in a diverse environment where open discussion is allowed and even encouraged. But if your employees feel that they need to shelve their opinions to preserve group conformity—or protect the egos of one or two people—poor decisions and bad policies are usually the end result. For instance, it was groupthink that notoriously doomed the Space Shuttle Challenger. Although NASA employees raised questions about the shuttle’s faulty O-ring seals, they were pressured by their peers to reverse their position—with disastrous results.
Whether your business is spacecraft or home improvement, offering your employees an anonymous way to contribute their opinions circumvents this kind of problematic group thinking. It also gives employees a healthy way to challenge leadership, without the worry that will come back to haunt them or harm a relationship.
Giving the People Who Do the Work a Chance to Problem Solve
Leaders tend to give their opinions pretty freely—the ability to make a decision on a dime is probably one of the skills that got you your current position. Unfortunately, it’s not always the best strategy for effective problem-solving.
From your position at the top, you may not be intimately acquainted with the day-to-day details of your team’s processes, pain points, and challenges. You could be making a snap judgement without all the facts—and that can exacerbate existing problems.
From a management perspective, it’s often best to let the people who experience a problem troubleshoot its solution. After all, these employees really understand the ins and outs of the issue because they’re the ones who live it every day. Not to mention they’re invested in the solutions since they’ll suffer the consequences if they don’t find a quality fix. Internal forms allow you to gather information about problems—and drum up possible solutions from the people who count—before you present to the board.
Creative Solutions Often Emerge From Unlikely Sources
On the other hand, when a team is really hitting their heads against a wall, sometimes an idea from an unexpected source can be a breath of fresh air. Take, for instance, this story about a semi that got stuck underneath an overpass: the truck was just tall enough to wedge itself part of the way under the cement—to the point where it could no longer drive forward, but couldn’t back out, either.
The driver, nearby witnesses, and policemen all puzzled over what to do for a long time. Thankfully, at a certain point, a child saw the commotion and presented a solution: take the air out of the tires. And it worked! From the mouths of babes, indeed!
All of that is to say that the answers don’t always come from the obvious places. Especially in creative roles, workers can easily become so bogged down with a problem that they can’t see solutions—even the ones that are staring them right in the face.
Internal forms allow for cross-communication among different teams in your office. Who knows—a sales rep may have a genius idea for how to streamline deployment. A developer may have a little experience with HR.
A stroke of brilliance can come from anywhere really, and using a form allows you to capture a little bit of that lightning in a bottle. Even if it doesn’t solve every problem, at the very least, it will give your office squeaky wheel a chance to air their grievances—and let you review them at your own pace.
Have you used forms to create surveys for your workplace? Why not try it today? Learn more about FormAssembly plans and find the right one for your business here.
Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner. She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes full time for Modernize, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.