Who decides what the staff is asked?

Apr 24, 2023

Written by

Karoliina Jarenko

In the workplace, there has been a long-running shift from top-down management towards a more dialogic approach. In many functions, employee-centeredness is favored, and horizontal collaboration has also been facilitated extensively. Overall, efforts have been made to increase dialogue between different parts of the organization to facilitate the better flow of information, learning, and ideas.

That's why it's funny that this doesn't show up in employee surveys at all. Of course, HR professionals who choose the questions or survey concepts are experts in personnel management, well-being at work, and culture development. It can be thought that they have a good understanding of what to ask. And of course, it can also be thought that a manager gets to decide what kind of culture they want to create in their organization, and based on this, choose the surveys that tell the staff what is wanted more and what is important.

But if we want to strengthen a culture where employees lead themselves, where team leaders are more like coordinators of collective responsibility-carrying experts, where people are expected to act with an 'entrepreneurial attitude', create a common understanding of what works and what needs improvement, why on earth these people don’t get to influence what's asked in the surveys? However, an employee survey is a really effective way to get a complete picture of the staff's thoughts on the matters asked about.

In a modern organization, a staff survey is a work community's own tool for understanding and development.

In a modern organization, a staff survey is a work community's own tool for understanding and development.

In a modern organization, a staff survey is a work community's own tool for understanding and development.

The personnel survey is also an investment, both directly in money and in the time spent on it. When money is spent on one thing, it is taken away from another. When the questions of the year are used to ask about certain things, other issues remain unasked. Employees need to deliver results and do their job, even though they cannot influence how this annual good and valuable tool is used. Isn't that a bit funny?

Gradiassa acted differently. There, employee representatives have selected the questions for the Gradia Feel Meter. In fact, the introduction of the Gradia Feel Meter happened at the initiative of the staff.

Gradia, the Jyväskylä Educational Consortium, is an educational provider owned by 12 municipalities in Central Finland. Gradia includes vocational training institutions and high schools. In addition, Gradia Jyväskylä provides basic education and art education. Gradia has about 21,000 students and 1,000 staff members.

A few years ago, the board of the local association of teachers' union (OAJ) at Gradia decided to promote well-being at work and apply for funding from the OAJ well-being at work fund. The plan received support from the employer and the Towards a Better Degree of Well-being at Work at Gradia project received funding, and developer-teacher Birgitta Mannila was selected to lead it. One of the goals of the project was to implement a tool for monitoring well-being. Vibemetrics' Vibemeter was chosen for the task, but it was customized into its own version so that the questions asked weekly varied. Some of the questions are repeated throughout the year, allowing trends to be monitored. Some of the questions address current issues from the perspective of well-being at work.