Including IT topics in Employee Surveys: Stop Investing in Technology that Employees Don’t Want

While recently looking over a questionnaire for a client’s employee survey, I was surprised to see very few questions related to technology use. Sure, there were a few perfunctory items on satisfaction with the IT department. But this was a questionnaire for a large accounting firm—its employees use technology every minute of every day. Surely there are more things to measure?

If you do an annual employee survey to gather current perceptions and attitudes—great! This is an area of research that can uncover real opportunities to boost employee satisfaction and productivity, and even identify ways to save money. But do be sure to include technology-related content—especially if your employees use computers, communications and related technologies as part of their jobs.

Not sure where to start? Take an hour to brainstorm some tech-related hypotheses. Before you know it, you will have a good set of items worthy of investigation. Here are some examples that are relevant to many organizations today:

  • Our employees dislike using their desk phones; they prefer to forward their calls to their mobile phones
  • Our employees are not following back-up protocols consistently
  • Employees need more training on new applications
  • Employees want to use (insert application or web site) but the company currently blocks it
  • Employees want more leniency about what they can choose to install on company-provided computers
  • Many people find the current IT help desk processes confusing, so they tend to avoid it until a problem becomes critical
  • Employees are running blogs that sometimes touch on business topics, but are unaware of what disclaimers and protocols they should follow

Of course, the point is not to find out what they want and instantly provide it. There are obvious reasons why, for example, certain websites are blocked. Still, keeping an open mind and hearing this feedback may suggest a need to better explain why the policy exists or perhaps even identify situations where exceptions should be made.

Just Because You Build It, Doesn’t Mean They Will Come

Companies spend a lot of money on technology in an attempt to boost employee productivity—but how many go back to make sure it has happened? I have seen cases where employee research has uncovered surprising results—like that employees aren’t even using a telephony feature assumed to be critical, or that they avoid a specific business process because the related application is too cumbersome.

Does adding technology-related content add too much?

If the new content would make your annual employee survey too lengthy or onerous, then consider your options. Perhaps a smaller percentage of employees can be asked to complete the additional questions. Or maybe the employee base can be divided and asked to take 2 different questionnaires. Perhaps the questionnaires can be separated and done 6 months apart—so that employees don’t feel bombarded. Or maybe the tech questions can be tackled through in-house focus groups, for a more qualitative and in-depth discussion.

In any case, as with all employee research, it’s critical to make sure that upon completion, employees are thanked and next steps identified. Communicating how the research is driving specific, concrete actions that will improve the workplace will go a long way to boosting employee satisfaction. In contrast, employees who share thoughtful feedback and then see no action will be less willing the next time you ask.

[Is this a topic of interest? Interested in some help adding IT-related content to your employee research program? Contact me at kkorostoff@ResearchRockstar.com]

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  1. Kathryn Korostoff Kathryn
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