The Survey Says…

The Survey Says…
By Dr. Kwame R. Charles
Director, Quality Consultants Limited

The results are in, the people have spoken. Only half of the employees in a sample of organizations across the Caribbean are engaged and satisfied with their organizations.

In a survey of almost 5,000 employees, drawn from an employee population of over 7,000, in closeto 30 companies in the Region, only 54% indicated that they were satisfied with a range of organizational and management practices in their company, including its leadership, management/employee relations, talent management, communication, customer focus and corporate social responsibility.

These results come from the Seventh Biennial Employee Benchmark Survey, conducted by Quality Consultants between April last year and January this year. The Survey involved 29 companies and 4,954 employees from five Caribbean countries: Barbados, Curacao, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago. Of the 29 companies that participated in the survey, the majority (19) were from Trinidad & Tobago. However, threeof these companies have branches in Barbados, one has a subsidiary company in Jamaica and one has a branch in Curacao. Seven of the other ten companies were from Guyana, two were from Jamaica and one was from Barbados. Nine of the companies came from thelocal energy sector, eight were retail and distribution companies, five were from the services sectorand four from the financial services sector. There were also a media company,a telecommunication company and a company from the airline industry in the survey.

A 54% rating translates into just over one in every two employees fully satisfied and engaged with their organization. In contrast, just over one in five (22%) are dissatisfied and disengaged; while just about a quarter (24%) are sitting on the fence, neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, waiting for something to move them one way or the other.

Other highlights from the survey are that:

  • over 80% of the employees surveyed said that they are proud of their company; but only 60% are satisfied working there and would recommend it as a great place to work;
  • just over half plan to stay with their company for a long time, are willing to go the extra mile for it and look forward to coming to work every day; but only a quarter would remain with their company if they were offered another job with more pay and benefits;
  • two out of three employees (66%) think their company is doing a good job of focusing on their external customers and on their communities and the environment through good corporate social responsibility. In fact, customer focus, CSR and supervision were the top three dimensions in the survey.
  • On the other hand, leadership, the way the companies manage talent and their communication style receive the lowest satisfaction scores in the survey. Specifically, only two out of five employees (40%) are happy with their company’s leadership, talent management practices and internal communication.In fact, less than half of the employees in the survey think that their company’s leaders provide good leadership for their company. Less than half have confidence in their leaders’ decision making, and less than 40% believe what their leaders say! Not good results for building trust.

Some other highlights of the survey are that retail anddistribution employees have the highest satisfaction levels of all industries, while, interestingly, energy sector employees have the lowest satisfaction levels, putting paid to the argument that the more money you make, the more satisfied you are!

Also of interest is the fact that Trinidad & Tobago companies in the survey had the lowest levels of employee satisfaction and engagement in the Region.

Our surveys also find that the higher you go in your organization, the more satisfied you become. On the average, managers are at least twice as satisfied as employees on the lowest rung of the company ladder. And employee satisfaction and engagement vary with years of service: what we call the U-Curve Effect. Satisfaction is high in the first few years with a new organization. Then it tanks after about five years. But if you stay long enough, it will go back up. This may also be related to upward movements in the organization as a result of seniority.

Over the years, our employee surveys have taught us that, if you don’t know what’s the level of employee satisfaction and engagement in your organization, you should find out – but only if you intend to do something about what you find out. If you don’t think you’ll like what you hear, don’t bother to ask!

Our surveys have also taught us that leadership is the main challenge in our organizations; but good leadership is also the solution. Leaders need to build trust with their employees by levelling with them, continuous communication and dialogue. Communication is key! And most important is that leaders must lead by example and match their actions with their words.

Employee satisfaction and engagement have been linked to employee outcomes like absenteeism; timeliness; productivity;quality; employee retention; and reduction in accidents, injuries, wastage and rework. It has also been linked to organizational and business outcomes, like customer satisfaction, sales growth, profitability and shareholder value. Our survey results suggest that there is a lot to be done to raise the levels of employee satisfaction and engagement in our local and regional organizations.

June 2013