What are staff workplace concerns, how broadly held are they and how strongly are they felt? One way to gain a better, more comprehensive grasp is to conduct a Staff Quality of Work Life Survey. Such a survey can assess staff perceptions and concerns, identify positive changes and lead to higher job satisfaction and increased productivity. Better productivity can drop benefits directly to further your nonprofit cause.

Key Model – Our nonprofit Staff Quality of Work Life Survey model was built from FedEx’s people-first corporate philosophy is an integral part of their People-Service-Profit goals. A key part of the company’s managing this effort is annual use of an Employee Satisfaction Survey built around a Survey-Feedback-Action approach. Any employee survey is only effective if feedback on the major results is shared with employees and management identifies areas for action.

Case Example – We have helped nonprofits tailor such a staff survey to meet their needs. To gain staff participation and help them feel comfortable providing candid answers, it can help to have an external firm design, conduct and communicate overall survey findings.

In this case, highlights are first presented to the nonprofit’s Senior Leadership Team to consider the results and implications and to choose three to five areas for their action. Then the survey results are presented to the entire nonprofit staff at a Town Meeting along with the actions that the Senior Leadership Team committed to take in order to address areas of greatest concern. The senior team then reports back to staff members periodically during the year, charting progress and communicating that they’d listened. While maintaining anonymity in survey responses, gathering demographic data can also help identify any particular issue patterns in parts of the organization or among groups of staff members, such as new hires.

Sample survey areas:

  • Organization future/vision
  • Client service
  • Growth & development
  • Rewards & recognition
  • Innovation
  • Teamwork/morale
  • Trust
  • Staff communications

Work Groups – It can also be helpful for departments or natural work groups to assess their survey results compared to those of the organization as a whole. In addition to supporting organization-wide actions, is there an area or two that deserves attention within the smaller staff group?

When to Test Your Quality of Work Life Climate? – It can be productive to assess staff climate as part of a developing a new Strategic Plan, when major changes are being made in strategies or organization, or when new processes or services are being introduced. In future years, annually assessing the climate makes sense to help effectively manage a nonprofit to give voice to staff members on changes they think could improve attainment of organization goals or their own job satisfaction. When combined with an assessment of client survey feedback, any disconnects between the views of these groups of people can be identified.

Critical success factors for a Staff Quality of Work Life Survey are:

  • Commit to survey anonymity; using an outside firm to conduct and analyze the survey can help
  • Make decisions as a senior team on what improvement actions to commit to
  • Share feedback of summary results with staff
  • Act on key findings
  • Periodically communicate progress during the balance of the year

It can be sunnier where you work. Most of us spend too much of our lives there for it not to be.