Ask, and You Shall Receive
Acting on surveys can result in a healthy culture, increased employee engagement, and improved retention
By Beth Winkler
We have always surveyed our team. We began sporadically with housekeeping-type questions, like “December 18 or 21 for
the Christmas party?” and “Blue or gray scrubs?” We received such a good response, we decided to go deeper.
When we asked, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend a family member or friend work here? Why or why
not?” it yielded a variety of scores and responses, all of it incredibly useful information. Much to our surprise, with
another survey, we discovered our 10-hour-day schedule was controversial. For example, one team member loved it because
she had an entire day off to run errands, make appointments, and engage in self-care, and she gave the question the top
score of 10. Another gave this question a low score, stating that the days were too long, and he didn’t have time to do
anything before or after work. We quickly realized that one size does not fit all. What worked for one team member
didn’t work at all for another. This wasn’t the case with every question. When we asked, “What should we keep doing as
an organization?” we received an overwhelming response of “in-person team meetings.” Here was an opportunity for us, as
leaders, to further engage our employees, and we responded to their enthusiasm for in-person meetings by adding more
Asking questions like these can enhance your practice by opening the gates of communication between you and your
employees. But more important than asking the questions are the actions you take once you have the answers. You can’t
unknow what you now know, and your next steps will strongly influence the culture in your organization. If the team
overwhelmingly says they hate having lunch from 11:00 a.m. to noon, you had better be prepared to either modify the hour
or have a very honest conversation with them about why lunch will remain at that time, whether it’s convenience for your
patients, federal law regarding number of breaks per day, or another reason altogether. Once (and only once!) we made
the mistake of waiting too long to implement changes from a survey, and guess what? It came up in the next survey!
Team members want to be heard in a safe environment, and the safer your team feels opening up and the more change they
see in response to their feedback, the more honesty you will get. This will require leadership to have tough skin, and
that may be challenging to adjust to initially. But it will be worth it. Providing these regular opportunities for
feedback will result in a much happier and more engaged team and higher retention.
To paraphrase Aesop’s Fables, “Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true?” That doesn’t apply here. Ask, and ask
often, what you wish to know, and your wish to build a purpose-driven team and organization, where all feel like they
belong and matter, will be granted.
QUICK FIX BEGINNER
Each month, ask your employees to rate, on a scale from 0 to 10, how likely it is they would recommend your organization
as a place to work, followed by an open-ended question asking why they chose the rating they did. Based on their score,
they will be a Promoter (9-10); Passive/Neutral (7-8) or a Detractor (< 6). You can then use these scores to calculate your Employee Net Promoter Score, eNPS.1
Implement changes to harness positive responses and to address negative responses, or educate as to why modifications cannot be made, and track your progress monthly through monitoring your eNPS.
QUICK FIX PRO
Asking your employees if they would recommend others to work at your organization, while extremely valuable, is only the tip of the iceberg in assessing employee engagement. Now that your staff is accustomed to being surveyed, expand the breadth of your questions and survey them only quarterly. One tool to try is Gallup’s Q12, a 12-item engagement survey.2
Review the results with your management team and then your staff, soliciting their input on the three most important areas to tackle first. Collectively develop strategies and tactics, and report progress to your team monthly.
1BambooHR. Employee Net Promoter Score. https://www.bamboohr.com/hr-glossary/employee-net-promoter-score-enps/. Accessed
June 10, 2022.
2Gallup’s Employee Engagement Survey: Ask the Right Questions with the Q12 Survey.
https://www.gallup.com/workplace/356063/gallup-q12-employee-engagement-survey.aspx. Accessed June 9, 2022.
Beth Winkler, an APTA Private Practice member, is the owner of Magnolia Physical Therapy in New Orleans and a coach for
private practice owners. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.