Berna Özdemirkan

January 2017 – Brandmap: 

Things were different in the 90s. Corporate companies used to have Personnel and Administrative Affairs Department and all they did was to manage payroll and wages. There was no concept of employee satisfaction. Employees were treated like robots paid for their labor. Yes, robots! If you are wondering why I chose this term, it is because robots don’t have ideas and feelings.  Back then it did not matter what the employees thought or felt. Gradually, we started to talk about Employee Satisfaction concepts so Personnel Affairs was replaced by Human Resources. Satisfaction was not enough after a point, so Commitment/Belonging concepts were born. Was it loyalty or dependency? Nobody wanted dependent employees who try to do their time and has almost no contribution to the job. Then it occurred that satisfaction and engagement were not enough, high motivation was also needed. Therefore, let’s say in 2009, a brand new concept that included all these concepts was created; “Engagement”. We don’t have the exact equivalent of this word in Turkish language yet. I personally use the term Knight as a committed and motivated employee. These employees who fight for the company, strive to improve it and feel valued are the ones who help the company move forward. How many of these knights are there in the companies? According to the survey data, almost every one out of two employees describe themselves as one. This ratio changes in the best companies, to five out of six employees. This is the source of the aspiration to be the most preferred company. If you are a good company, you attract good employees and if you have good employees you become a good company.

Another critical point about Human Resources and Employee Satisfaction is that Human Resources should always stand behind its policies. In order to fully understand the companies that value this process, one needs to inspect the organization structure of their Human Resources teams. How many HR team members exist compared to the employee count? How did the HR team distribute the workload? Most importantly, who does the HR team report to? To the Financial and Administrative Affairs? Or to the General Manager directly? The lack of a proper HR team to mediate between the employee interests and company interests with the full authority over the decision making process points out to problems of sustainable processes.

To elaborate more on the employee satisfaction issue, first step is to conduct regular employee opinion surveys, however, the companies often tend to perform these surveys through their internal resources. Even if it looks like a profitable solution in the short run, it damages the company in the long run. The employees do not believe in or trust the confidentiality of the survey and this is the most significant problem. This causes the company to start conducting the survey with a disadvantage. As the survey feels untrustworthy, the results turn out inaccurately, a lot higher than expected. The upper management feels a moment of relief with these high scores, however, as the employees are actually dissatisfied, they cannot contribute to the company’s success. Let’s say, hypothetically you are an exception and your employees trust the confidentiality of the survey. They gave genuine replies so the data turned out true to reality. So, is the analysis as accurate as the data? The statistics and research have critical importance when it comes to interpreting the results correctly. For the analysis to be correct, the questionnaire should be prepared with utmost attention. It is needless to say that the data should be interpreted by experts who performed these studies at numerous companies; and deliberate action suggestions should take place.

You are not to expect the survey to do everything for you, it is merely a medium to help you check the employee pulse regularly. Depending on the frequency of survey, they might help you follow certain trends within the company. Moreover, in addition to a thorough survey, some mini-surveys help you ask some questions about your agenda, and keep track of them in order to check the pulse and direct HR policies.

In conclusion, enhancing employee relations, valuing their opinion are crucial ways to be a better company. You can use these guiding pulse surveys as your go-to manual. You need employee suggestions, not some miraculous actions to improve these results. Let’s take the employee-satisfaction-oriented focus groups. I had the chance to meet various employees from various companies thanks to these focus groups. Believe it or not, they all thanked me for listening to them. Some even said, “We are not sure if any action will be taken, but it felt really good to have someone listening to us.” Imagine, they thank you just because you listen to them. Isn’t this the key to all? To listen! To communicate! If we fail, it is because we do not listen. It’s not only valid for your employees, do not underestimate the power of listening.