Top Ten Comments Found on Employee Surveys

More than two thirds of U.S. companies survey their employees. These surveys measure employee satisfaction, the effectiveness of internal policies and are even used to help recruit prospective employees. In addition to providing employers with important information for mapping future organizational development, surveys which are properly done tell employees that their concerns are important and help create loyalty among workers.


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When evaluating employee surveys, write in comments not only provide insight into what organizational changes have occurred since the previous survey, they may also yield easily implemented and actionable improvements that management can make to show employees that management acts on their input. These actions are often “Quick Wins”, meaning they can be implemented with little resource investment and produce immediate improvement in employee engagement.

HR Solutions, Inc., a Chicago-based management consulting firm specializing in Employee Engagement Surveys, recently analyzed recurring themes in employee surveys and compiled the following top 10 list:

  1. Higher salaries – pay is the number one area in which employees seek change.
  2. Internal pay equity, particularly having concerns with “pay compression” (the differential in pay between new and tenured employees).
  3. Benefits programs, particularly health/dental, retirement, and Paid Time Off/vacation days. Specifically, many employees feel their health insurance costs too much, especially prescription drug programs.
  4. “Over-Management” (a common phrase seen in employee comments is “too many chiefs, not enough Indians.”
  5. Pay Increase guidelines should place greater emphasis on merit.
  6. The Human Resource department needs to be more responsive to their questions and/or concerns.
  7. Favoritism.
  8. Improved Communication and availability (both from their supervisors and upper management).
  9. Workloads are too heavy and/or departments are understaffed.
  10. Facility cleanliness.

This list was compiled from a job satisfaction study including more than 2.2 million respondents, with 2,100 organizations representing various industries, all surveyed during the last three years by HR Solutions, Inc.

It is important to recognize that both written comments and those obtained through other feedback methods, such as one-on-one interviews or focus groups, have value. Written comments differ slightly from comments made in other feedback sessions, according to Jennifer Rand, Principal Consultant with HR Solutions.

“Most of what the consultants hear during the feedback sessions supports in great detail the themes of the written comments. The comments most prevalent are usually those things that have changed, whether negative or positive, i.e. benefits, since it is human nature to resist change,” Rand explains.

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