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Employee surveys: a cost or a missed opportunity?

Updated: 14 Apr 2016

If people are a business’ greatest asset, then isn’t it time we got to know our assets? According to recruiting experts Hays in China, too many organisations fail to take action based on annual employee survey results, impacting not just recruitment and retention but also profit as a result.


“Businesses report effectively on finances, supplies, stocks, structures and other resources, but while companies often ask their staff questions about the business, the feedback isn't always used effectively,” says Simon Lance, Regional Director of Hays in China.


“The business world has known for years that the insight from employee surveys is invaluable and can directly impact on financial results. The link between happy employees, customer satisfaction and profit is strong. So why aren’t more organisations using this information?”


The issue is explored in the latest Hays Journal, the recruiter’s bi-annual magazine on the world of HR and recruitment.


One example of the value of employee surveys is American department store group Sears. The company collected from employees data that informed the now famous Employee-Customer-Profit measurement model to turn around their net loss of US$3.9billion.


“Employee surveys are widespread, although frequently they are only noted for their cost rather than their positive output,” says Simon. “Many do not provide data that is used to inform business decisions and appear to managers and staff alike as a mere box-ticking exercise, which is counterproductive and disengaging for everyone involved.


“Businesses that don’t use employee survey data strategically are missing an opportunity to attract and retain high performing employees. These surveys get under the skin of how staff attitudes affect retention, customer satisfaction and ultimately business performance.


“But many managers do not act on the data they collect, or fail to respond, because they see the results as personal criticism. That’s where strong leadership is critical.  The survey data must be recognised as a way of identifying problem areas and training needs before they become too serious,” said Simon.


According to Hays, employee surveys can tell a company’s leaders much more than whether staff are happy in their work.


Simon says, “Used effectively, employee surveys can tap into the knowledge, experience and opinions of staff in the same way that customers are surveyed. Both types of survey generate insight that should inform strategic decisions in areas from product development to mergers and acquisitions.”


Advice to employers:

·         Shift from biannual or yearly in-depth analysis to more real-time data: Use online technology to derive smaller and more precise insights from data. Short polls to staff in one business unit can generate a useful and relevant snapshot, particularly when unexpected events occur.

·         Do not analyse results in isolation: Look at staff survey results alongside new hire and exit surveys, customer feedback and employee performance.

·         Look behind the basic data: What do the results tell you about why one location performs above or below average? 

·         Most importantly, act on the data collected by identifying problem areas and training needs.


To access the Hays Journal please visit:


Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.


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About Hays

Hays is the leading global specialist recruiting group. It is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide.


Hays Specialist Recruitment  (Shanghai) Co., Limited ("Hays China") operates across the public and private sector, dealing in permanent positions. Hays China’s eighteen specialisms span Accountancy & Finance, Banking, Architecture, Construction, Education, Engineering, Executive, Finance Technology, Human Resources, Hays Resource Management, Information Technology, Insurance, Life Sciences, Manufacturing & Operations, Oil & Gas, Property and Sales & Marketing.


Hays China operates four local offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou and Guangzhou. It is the local representative office for Hays plc, which is a global company with more than 7,840 staff operating from 239 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms.


Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA.