When we begin work with a new organization we first need to learn as much as we can about them. We want to know about their strengths and problem areas so we can focus our efforts on ways to improve the work system. That process often begins with some type of workplace assessment,
Assessments can take on a variety of forms, but they are all designed to measure various factors present in the organization. For example, when we begin our work with a safety committee, we do an assessment of various issues related to safety, such as the use of protective equipment, compliance with safety best practices, and specific areas related to that workplace. Sometimes we may look at the training needs of an organization, the adequacy of personnel or equipment, level of employee involvement, committee or team effectiveness, or other factors.
Some organizations combine all of these and other factors into a comprehensive workplace climate assessment that touches on all areas. A group with which we are currently working opted for this type of instrument. I think the results surprised some of the labor-management group that helped plan the process.
That is not unusual for any assessment. We tell groups they will not be surprised by most of the results. They should not be, since they work there and hopefully are aware of existing conditions. This can help support what people believe to be true. It is in the other items a major value of the process lies.
We generally find areas where groups of employees have a different opinion than others, It may be differences between workers and managers, or it could be based on gender, shift, years of service, or other factors. In any case, the differences reveal an area that can be addressed.
How about your workplace? How would you and other employees, labor or management, respond to the following statements?
- There is a high level of trust between management and workers at this organization.
- Communications from management are frank and honest.
- On my job, my abilities are used to their full extent.
- Morale at this organization is high.
- I am viewed as a valuable part of this organization.
These are 5 sample items that could be used in an assessment. Each is answered using a 5-response Likert type scale ranging from “Strongly Disagree” to “Strongly Agree”. Answers are then compiled and quantitative comparisons can be made.
Do you think you know how your co-workers would respond? Are the results you expect what you would like to have for your organization? Doing an assessment can provide the answers to what employees believe and pinpoint areas that require attention. A group of employees and managers can then begin work on how to correct real problems within the organization, not those based solely on someone’s conjecture.
The results of the initial assessment will also serve as a benchmark for future surveys. Comparing results between assessments will show us areas on which there has been improvement, the effectiveness of problem-solving efforts, and issues that now require action. This is why we recommend the assessment be repeated periodically to get these longitudinal measures.
While the sample items listed here are intended for quantitative analysis, we also use a qualitative process in some organizations. These could involve meeting with individual employees, departments, or focus groups to hear in detail their ideas about their workplace. This type of data gathering takes longer and is more difficult to analyze, but can produce more detailed information than using only a quantitative process. Some groups begin with the quantitative assessment, then use a qualitative process to dig deeper into why those results occurred.
CALMC strongly recommends the use of various types of assessment to measure what people believe about their workplace. They can also be used with other groups, including professional organizations, civic clubs, or communities.
If you are interested in considering an assessment, CALMC is experienced in all aspects of the process, beginning with planning the type(s) of assessments to be conducted, developing the assessment instrument, conducting the survey, analyzing the data, and reporting the results. Contact us for more info4rmation.