So, what is employee sentiment? Personally, I have difficulty in understanding and accepting why businesses do not prioritise workplace sentiment as a key business metric.
As an ex-submariner, spending upto 17 weeks underwater without seeing daylight, I feel fortunate to have experienced first-hand how a strong, collective and cohesive working environment drives a whole host of positive sentiments.
Despite the somewhat harsh living and working conditions on board a submarine, tiredness, tension and high levels of stress could cause huge personal and professional dissatisfaction, unhappiness and genuine danger. Having strong lines of communication and an all-for-one and one-for-one-for-all leadership culture acts as a protective mental shield, a shield that allows for a highly engaged, happy and focused workforce (beer and having a good craic also helps!)
It may be an outdated and old-school concept but I’d much prefer to work in an environment where people care about each other. Where friendships and human bonds based on kindness, support and genuine appreciation for each other were encouraged, where team culture and it’s immense value were recognised and prioritised.
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What Is Employee Sentiment?
Sadly, employee sentiment for many businesses remains an unknown concept. Something that is so easy to comprehend but far too easily dismissed as just some big idea for big Apple and Google-sized companies. The reality couldn’t be more different.
So what is employee sentiment exactly?
It’s how people feel about every aspect of their job.
Can you change employee sentiment?
Once you understand it, learn how to measure it and learn the techniques that will improve it, then yes, you can 100% change it.
Employee Sentiment vs Employee Engagement.
Employee sentiment differs from employee engagement, although they’re strongly related.
According to Gallup, a global leader in big data analytics, engagement is “the involvement and enthusiasm of employees in their work and workplace.”
Whereas employee sentiment is considered to be “people’s feelings about their experience doing their job and their workplace”
Clearly, this is a sweeping statement that covers a broad spectrum of factors, such as:
- Employee sentiment regarding the company and how it aligns with company values.
- Satisfaction levels regarding employee benefits and compensation.
- The impact of day-to-day management practices and interactions with employees.
- Employee perceptions of specific company policies and procedures.
- Overall satisfaction with the company and its team culture.
- Effectiveness of the company in actively listening to its staff.
- Availability and quality of training and advancement opportunities.
Naturally, satisfaction in these areas will create increases in motivation and commitment where staff are happy to go the extra mile. Conversely, dissatisfaction can cause a whole host of negative problems for a business.
What do your staff say to their friends about their job?
The Importance of Employee Sentiment
Benefits of Strong Employee Sentiment.
Fostering a positive employee sentiment can be highly effective at reducing staff turnover. Employees will experience a greater sense of pride and purpose within their company, finding genuine enjoyment in their work and a strong sense of belonging and acceptance.
Happy and content employees are more likely to recommend their company to their friends as a great place to work.
Elevating employee sentiment will yield higher levels of engagement among your workforce. When employees are happier, they tend to exhibit greater creativity, innovation, and overall job satisfaction which translates into a deeper mutual support structure where staff work more as a team which in turn leads to lower operational costs and improvements in productivity and overall company success.
According to Gallup’s research, high employee engagement can lead to a 23% increase in company profitability and can reduce absenteeism by as much as 81%.
Consequences of Low Employee Sentiment.
Low employee sentiment will cause morale to drop which will limit a company’s opportunity for growth and success. When employees don’t feel satisfied, performance will decline. Whether they dislike their benefits package or perceive their company as non-inclusive or not aligned to its core values, they’ll start to check out—or burn out. This is bad for any business.
For example, Mental Health UK, says that 20% of employees feel lonely or isolated at least once per day. This undermines engagement and performance. And for others, feeling overworked causes burnout.
Leaders need to be brave. Have the courage to find the reality about how their staff actually feel and take action
Getting To The Truth - Reality Check
The purpose of understanding the reality of employee sentiment goes way beyond just gauging how employees feel. It digs into the underlying reasons behind those emotions and feelings.
Leaders and managers need to be brave and have the courage to find the reality of how their staff actually feel. Instead, what is the norm is for people in positions of authority tend to focus on what they need and what’s good for them. This isn’t leadership whichever way you cut it. Proper leaders focus on everyone else. Bad leaders focus on themselves.
Closed Sentiment Surveys
Closed (non-disclosure) )sentiment surveys are a great way to evaluate employee sentiment. Conduct regular closed sentiment surveys that employees can complete in less than 10 minutes. Surveys can focus on various dimensions of a person’s job and their sentiment towards that job.
Surveys allow a business to zero in on specific topics and should adopt a simple Q&A scoring system, 1 being bad and 5 being excellent.
Closed Culture Surveys
Find out how staff perceive the company culture by asking questions like:
- To what extent does the team culture foster a sense of comfort?
- How would you rate the inclusivity of our company culture?
- Does the current culture actively promote every individual’s ability to express themselves?
- Do new team members find it easy and welcoming?
- Does the culture actively facilitate knowledge exchange among peers?
- What aspects of the company culture would you consider altering for improvement?
- Does the company encourage an open opinion format where people feel valued and free of fear to voice their ideas and opinions?
Download your free employee survey
Find out how staff perceive the company culture by asking questions like:
- Does the company have a clear purpose?
- Is this purpose meaningful?
- Is the company effectively fulfilling its mission?
- Do you believe in the company’s broader vision?
- Do you feel you’re personally playing a role in achieving the company vision/mission?
- Does the company culture reflect its culture statement – does the reality align well?
Mentoring and Training
Look at whether employees feel they’re receiving appropriate training and coaching:
- Do you have a good mentor in the organisation?
- How well do you understand the next steps to take toward advancement?
- Do you feel you receive adequate training and support?
- In the past month, has your work enabled you to learn more?
- Do you feel your work challenges you enough so that you are continuously improving?
- Do you have clear stretch goals?
- When was the last time your manager spoke with you about your day-to-day work and how it is impacting you and your opportunity for progression?
Satisfaction with Collaboration and Communication.
These questions can explore how well colleagues are working together:
- Does your team hold effective brainstorming sessions?
- Are effective processes in place for communicating with team members?
- Does your team follow an effective project workflow?
- Does your team avoid bottlenecks that impede workflow?
- When you ask a team member a question, do you typically receive a quick response?
- Does your manager communicate effectively with the team?
- How confident are you made to feel about your existing capabilities?
- Does your manager encourage an open-opinion team structure?
Employee sentiment Final Thoughts
How employees feel at work really matters. When employees are happy and feel valued, they do better work. They stay longer at their jobs, and they tell their friends and family good things about their company.
Businesses should listen to their employees and make sure they feel good about coming to work. It’s not just good for the employees; it’s good for the company too. When employees are happy, productivity goes up as do a company’s profits.
Staff present a real opportunity for a company to create credible and genuine brand ambassadors. Brand ambassadors are extremely powerful – think of Apple and its millions of committed, tribal-like brand ambassadors…..enough said!