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Survey gives pause for thought

THE inaugural Best Employers Survey has provided WA businesses with a unique opportunity to look at their own organisation through their employees’ eyes.  By taking a step back and looking at the combined results we have also seen some interesting characteristics across WA businesses. 

For example, the results show that employees feel most positive about the people they work with, which is understandable, but also the company they work for. However, these strengths do not always flow through to staff feeling positive about the actual work they do, or the way they are rewarded, recognised, evaluated or shown opportunities for career development.

These findings highlight the considerable HR challenges facing organisations, large and small, and reflect the increasing energy, innovation and time needed to maintain a highly satisfied and committed work-force. 

The survey results show widely positive attitudes among staff towards their workplace colleagues, which is one important dimension of gaining high employee commitment. This reflects the value and importance of allowing staff to develop strong cohesion within the workplace, whether that be working in teams, interacting across teams or socialising with work mates. Another positive relationship is the feeling people have towards the company itself. The results show that more than 80 per cent of employees understand their employer’s long-term vision and can identify with the organisational mission.  Organisations are also showing leadership by sharing their dream for the future.

In the survey:

82 per cent of respondents said they could “identify with the mission of my employer”; 81 per cent said “I understand the long term vision of the company”; and 80 per cent said “management appeals to others to share an exciting dream of the future”.

While this understanding was at varying levels, there was clearly a connection between individual and organisational values, which is a second important element of maintain-ing employee commitment. Organisations need to let staff get to know them – what they stand for, why they are in business and what the long-term goals are. These results show that WA businesses are communicating this to their people.

The other aspects of ensuring employee commitment relate to the day-to-day work and how each individual is treated and nurtured, and this is where it gets harder. Communicating the organisation’s vision to the whole team is one thing, but giving everyone individual feedback, recognition for their efforts, or allowing them to see their future career paths is where WA businesses have the greatest scope to really make a difference. 

The survey results show between 40 per cent and 50 per cent of employees give their company high performance scores on these measures, while the remainder rated their employer as fair or good, but not excellent.

The survey found:

52 per cent said their employer provided informal feedback and recognition; 46 per cent believe they were provided with appropriate supervision and coaching; 45 per cent said they believed their performance was being evaluated fairly; and 37 per cent believe their employer provided an attractive career path.

This year’s survey has opened the way for organisations to understand what they are doing well, and where else they can look to improve. The benefits to management in gaining this understanding can have far-reaching implications not only for employees, but also for the bottom line.

For example, high employee commitment has been proven to result in higher productivity, since happy employees are more effective and efficient than unhappy ones. Also, happy employees translates into happy customers, who then come back, spend more and recommend your business to others.

Finally, high employee commitment means better retention of staff and also an ability to attract good people who see the positive workplace as an appealing feature.

There are many ways organisations can provide feedback, recognition, reward and career opportunities. In fact much of the HR literature talks extensively about this, and there have been considerable developments in tools to assist organisations adopt a consistent approach to managing these important needs. 

We hope that all organisations who participated in this year’s survey can use the information to build on their own employee commitment and see the benefits unfold for their organisations.

 

Julie Beeck is director of Market Equity.

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