Your organization's EHS (Environment, Health & Safety) and sustainability performance is most affected by employees' behavior and this behavior is driven by the intangible aspects of your company's culture; culture that is not necessarily written down in policies, programs and procedures. All behavior is rewarded, whether it is desired or unwanted behavior, whether an employee recognizes it or not, whether a manager recognizes it or not, and it is the intangible aspect of employee perceptions, beliefs, values, motivations and attitudes that guide and drive employee behaviors. Every company encounters this situation and the question is whether employees' behavior supports your EHS and sustainability objectives and how your measure this behavior. One of the foundations of EHS and sustainability performance is employee behavior because without a deep understanding of employees it is possible that your objectives might never be met.
Survey Development & Administration
Employee surveys are a great tool to use in order to understand your employees' behavior, morale and motivation. They can help gauge if the perception of your workplace is in line with how employees feel about working there. They can evaluate many different things, but most commonly measure whether employees are receiving constructive feedback, if there are opportunities for job growth, the level of teamwork, quality of the work, whether employees understand the company mission and purpose, and the degree of work-life balance. Along with these items, focused surveys can also let you know employees' perception of its organization EHS and sustainability program.
The most successful employee surveys ask tough questions and address company pain points, rather than seek confirmation of areas you already believe to be strengths. This way, they not only build trust within an organization, but also help create EHS and sustainability goals the company can strive for together.
As you set out to do your employee survey, here are suggestions and how you can make sure it's useful for you:
1. Be prepared to do something with the results. If you ask employees to go through the exercise and then do nothing with it, you're guaranteed to disappoint them, and discourage them from participating next time. If you do EHS and sustainability surveys regularly, be sure to routinely recognize achievements and convey that you're working together toward achieving stated goals.
2. Explain honestly why you're conducting the EHS and sustainability survey and make it clear that, although the data will be carefully assessed, unfortunately not every issue that employees mention will be addressed.
3. Make sure employees know that all data is confidential. If employees think their answers are going into 'files,' their responses are less likely to be honest. Using generic customized survey forms is one way to insure anonymity or contract with a third party that can host an online version of the survey independent of the organization.
4. Conduct your survey at your facility. If a survey is held off-site, it relays a message that it's not safe to be honest or critical at work. That message undermines any value from the results.
5. Ask all employees to respond to your survey, or randomly select those who will. It is not a good practice to allow employees to self-select to participate. If you do, you'll find that only very satisfied or highly dissatisfied and those highly communicative employees will sign up. Your less approachable staff is guaranteed to be unrepresented. To encourage participation, remind employees how past survey results have helped to implement specific changes to the organization's EHS and sustainability programs.
6. Make sure the employee survey is something that translates into measurable results and tangible action. Employees won't groan when you ask them to complete another survey because they'll look forward to making their voices heard.
Sharing Survey Results – Last, But Not Least
Sharing the EHS and sustainability survey results with employees is the last but a very important step. The messenger and the means of communicating these results are very important and will send an underlying message to employees about the importance of your EHS and sustainability program.
Recognizing and managing employees' behavior is critical to understanding and managing EHS and sustainability performance. Performance is driven by this behavior, and employee behaviors are driven by the focus that the organization places on EHS and sustainability objectives that are not necessarily written down in policies, programs and procedures. Understanding employees' behavior from survey data and other types of interactions should allow an organization to reshape and manage progress toward the achievement of your EHS and sustainability objectives.