By Kim Pedersen (Guest Blogger)
In my first article, I explained the overall reasons as to why a healthy working environment (WE) is so important. In this article, I will try to explain how it is possible to get an overall picture of how employees perceive their working environment, and how it is fairly easily to pinpoint the most critical WE problems which exist in the company. The ability to pinpoint the problem makes it easy for a company to take action which in turn can save a lot of money for the company (this will be explained in the next article).
Please take a moment to become familiar with the charts below. They should be easy to understand for everybody so take a few minutes to think what kind of WE these two different charts might represent:
(Please note the elements in the chart)
The chart is divided into three main categories:
- General working environment (right side of the chart)
- Physical working environment (upper left side of the chart)
- Mental working environment (lower left side of the chart)
Workers taking the survey are asked to rate their company with a rating from “0” to “10” where “0” is the worst rating (or an expression of the worker being very un-satisfied) while“10” is the highest rating (or an expression of the worker being most satisfied). An average is then calculated for each element in the survey, and the average is shown as this chart. Thus, the larger the orange area is the more satisfied the worker also is. Conversely, the smaller the orange area, the less satisfied the work is.
It's all very simple.
The two charts above then show two completely different perceptions of the WE seen from the workers' side. Chart 1, has a very large orange area, and as you can see, there are not many areas where there are a big difference at all. It is a picture of a very healthy and sound working environment. Only one area, namely “skill-up and education” are rated very low and may need attention. As this chart is an average, it means that most employees are really unsatisfied with the company’s policy on skill-up opportunities and employee education. This might be the area that need some immediate attention. It might be found that offering employees the opportunity to skill-ups can keep them from seeking jobs elsewhere, thus, increasing employee retention and saving your company the trouble and cost of finding and hiring new employees as well as onboarding and training them.
The second chart is completely different from the first one. First of all, the orange area is very small, telling the story of employees who are very unsatisfied with the WE in many areas. In fact, only on a very few factors, like smoking policy, discrimination, air quality, and working hours are the ratings high. The average rating of all other factors is quite low. As this is an average, it tells a story about most employees being unsatisfied with most WE factors on the working place. It's the picture, a literal picture, of a company having huge difficulties with regards to many issues. This company probably losses a lot of money because of unsatisfied employees who are not able to properly and fully engage in their work. In such cases it can be very difficult for such a company to find out where to start improving the WE. On the other hand, all areas are considered relevant by employees and just small improvements can be perceived by the workers as very positive and actually have a huge impact on the company's productivity and satisfaction. In future articles, I will address and explore what these improvements might be and what might be the most effective.
The Good News: You Don’t Need 100% Employee Satisfaction:
Some might want to look for a company with a 100% rating or as close as you can get to 100% but remember how you would rate a company if you were an employee there? Clearing the magic 50% hurdle is the key issue. 50% means that you are neither satisfied nor unsatisfied which also means that the worker does not really have any WE issues that they find critical. So, 50% is NOT a bad rating at all. No worker will ever rate a company with 100% in all categories. If he did, it wouldn’t be considered a serious rating. Of course 60% or 70% is much better than 50%, but the point of this can be boiled down to three things:
- To clear the magic 50% hurdle (on average)
- Not having an un-even rating (balance is key)
- Not having areas rated under 25% on average in any single issue (trouble spots)
What does this actually express?
The chart is an expression of the workers' degree of satisfaction, and can not necessarily be a comparison between two actual working conditions. You cannot take this chart and, for instance, compare Japan and the US, and say,
“Oh, the US actually has a better WE than Japan”
Why is that? It's because what we measure here is each employee’s degree of satisfaction working at the company. Japanese workers might be satisfied with a lower standard of WE than US workers would or vice versa. So what we must compare is the level of the workers satisfaction.
It is also important to understand that while the chart might give you an idea of where the WE problem in your company lies, the actual qualitative comments from the employees specifies these details of these problem areas making it possible for roukan.com to advise the company on where to focus and being their improvements. The chart makes it easy to understand where the problems are while the detailed workers' comments specify what the actual problem is or problems are. You need both the quantitative and qualitative measures and details the if you are to optimize your company's WE.
Note regarding the two sample charts above:
1. First chart – a European workers WE in 5 different companies during her last 20 years of employment
2. Average of Japanese ratings we have received to date (“Human relation” and “predictability” was later added to the survey which is why on the Japanese chart these two figures are shown as a “0” rate)