How to Interpret Employee Satisfaction Survey Results

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A careful and rigorous interpretation of employee satisfaction survey results should do more than provide a surface-level measure of employee morale. Interpretation should go deeper to identify job characteristics or traits that contribute to employee satisfaction. At the same time, survey results can signal management about areas in which employees are less satisfied and may indicate a need for corrective actions or policy changes. Ideally, survey analysis and interpretation are easiest when the responses are numerically coded.

Assign numeric codes to employee satisfaction survey responses, facilitating analysis and interpretation of results. Some surveys may, for example, ask employees to rate their satisfaction with their jobs or various features of their jobs on a 1 to 5 scale, with 5 representing highest satisfaction. Another option is to use a four- or five-category Likert scale, with responses ranging from “highly unsatisfied” to “highly satisfied.”

Examine the range of responses to the survey question that measures overall employee satisfaction. Employee satisfaction surveys often end with a question that asks, “Overall, how satisfied are you with your job?” or similar wording. This will give you a big-picture perspective on employees’ job satisfaction.

Identify, based on responses to other questions, issues that may contribute to employees’ level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction. If the survey data are numerically coded, look for the questions in which the most frequent response (the mode) or the arithmetic mean (the average) is the same or higher than the response to the question that measures overall satisfaction.

Pay attention to the number of responses to each question. Often, employees may not answer every question on the survey. Questions with a lower number of responses may relate to issues or job characteristics that employees do not consider most important.

Determine issues of concern for company management by identifying areas in which employees are unsatisfied or less satisfied. If the mode or mean responses to some questions are lower than the measure of overall satisfaction, these may relate to areas of less satisfaction and require management attention to ensure high employee morale.

Tips & Warnings

  • A spreadsheet program such as Microsoft's Excel can facilitate coding, analysis and interpretation of employee satisfaction survey data.

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