Employee Satisfaction Surveys Highlight Communication Breakdowns

Glenn Crumpton, CPO
Glenn Crumpton

Glenn Crumpton, CPO, owner of Alabama Artificial Limb & bOrthopedic Service (AAL&OS) knew something in his office did not seem cright. His company had grown from four employees to 25 in 10 years. The subtle changes cwere beginning to add up. AAL&OS was going in a million different directions and he needed a way to bring the goals and objectives back into focus.

Proactive approach

Crumpton realized that if he asked each employee what the goals of the company were, he would receive various answers.

“We had to clarify and clean up what our goals were and make sure that everyone who works here understands those goals,” Crumpton explained to O&P Business News. “And then we thought that it was important to focus in on our employees.”

Crumpton annually conducts team-building retreats and was confident of his employee’s overall happiness. Still, he admitted that several of his employees were reluctant to take the survey.

Ashley Nuese, director of marketing and sales services for HR Solutions Inc., a management consulting firm specializing in employee surveys, acknowledged that most employees question the effectiveness of an employee satisfaction survey. According to Nuese, only 33% of employees feel as though employee satisfaction surveys will result in positive company changes.

When asked why he felt it was necessary to conduct an employee satisfaction survey, Crumpton credited his desire to strengthen his company.

“I think it is imperative for management to gauge their employees’ satisfaction regardless of the size of the business,” Chris Perry, owner of Perry & Associates, a strategy-based marketing solutions company said. “After all, the most important asset in any business is having the right people on your team and in order to retain the right people, one must keep them motivated.”

Crumpton also felt as though he needed to be evaluated and took it upon himself to get the answers he needed to improve his own managerial style.

“I was concerned that I did not know if I was a good manager or a good leader,” Crumpton admitted. “The best way to find things out is to ask.”

Intimidation factor

© 2010 iStockphoto.com/Uyen Le

An employee satisfaction survey can be intimidating to an employee. One of the questions that is routinely asked by employees is how would my superior want me to answer this question? Before conducting the survey, managers must convey to their employees that they want honest answers.

“They thought I would retaliate if I didn’t like a certain answer, but the truth was we were trying to find out how to strengthen our company,” Crumpton said. “They figured I knew how they would answer the questions. But if I knew them that well, then I wouldn’t need the survey.”

It was important to Crumpton that the answers to the survey questions remain anonymous. It is more difficult for small to mid-sized business owners to conduct an employee survey with a small staff due to confidentiality concerns.

Kevin Sheridan, chief executive officer of HRSolutions Inc., recommended alternatives such as focus groups, either internally or with a third party.

“It is very important to ensure that the manager is not included in the session in order to receive the most honest, candid feedback,” Sheridan said.

Crumpton enlisted the help of Perry to talk with employees and craft the questions on the survey that was distributed earlier this year.

Some of the questions on the survey included:

  • Do I have what I need at my job?
  • Do I have an opportunity to make an impact at my company?
  • Do I receive supervision and timely feedback?
  • Is there teamwork in my department?
  • Do I have an opportunity to advancement?

Employees were also asked to rate their satisfaction on a scale from very satisfied to very dissatisfied. Some of those questions included: How satisfied are you with the following:

  • Sense of accomplishment;
  • Other employees pulling their weight;
  • The company; and
  • Job security?

There were also questions on the survey that required a written answer such as: What changes would you like to see in the company?

Survey evaluation

“Outside vendors can alleviate concerns regarding confidentiality since the data is processed by an objective third party,” Nuese said. “Vendors can also help select the appropriate action-based questions given an organization’s survey goals and assist in proper evaluation of the results.”

As of press time, Crumpton was still in the process of evaluating surveys and interviews and implementing a plan to address the results from the survey. Nuese emphasized the necessity for a quick turnaround between conducting the survey and discussing the results.

“The longer you wait to discuss results, the greater the risk of your employees thinking the survey was a waste of time,” Nuese said.

The results of the survey should initially be shared with senior management to inform them of the key highlights and opportunities for improvement, Sheridan said. Employees should also be asked to validate whether the data holds true. At this stage, employees have the opportunity to recommend solutions for low-scoring areas. Highlighting and prioritizing a reas for improvement aids management in action planning.

“While it is important to ensure management is acting on the data, it is only half of the solution,” Sheridan explained. “Employees must also take an active role in understanding and improving their engagement and satisfaction level. Without a dual approach to engagement, organizations miss the opportunity to produce even greater outcomes.”


Crumpton proactively investigated ways in which to improve his company and he believes ultimately, the winner will be his patients.

“The work is better, the atmosphere is better and it goes a long way to retaining employees and patients,” Crumpton said.

He plans on conducting employee satisfaction surveys annually to stay on top of the inner workings of his business.

“Waiting until they feel like something isn’t right is not the ideal time for business owners to discover how employees feel about their jobs,” Perry concluded. — by Anthony Calabro


I think it is a mixed bag. [We] have a small pool [of employees] to choose from across the country. Obviously, we then have to be well-run companies. We must be efficient and we must be in tune with the needs of the employees. At the same time, there has never been a more important time for the employees and the employers to act as a team. We are going to be asked to do more with less and there are going to be more pressures put on everyone — from management to staff — to work in this type of environment. Certainly, the satisfactions of the employees are paramount to having the team work well. We have always tried to do a blend of what is best for the employees along with what is best for the business. It can not be either extreme.

— Frank Snell, CPO, FAAOP
President, Snell Orthotic and Prosthetic Laboratory

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