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Workplace surveys without follow-through erode trust

The Baltimore Sun

It's one of those rare times when you can be totally anonymous and honest about your workplace: the good and the bad.

I'm talking about the employee survey. At one time or another, many of us have taken an opinion survey to gauge, among other things, morale, job satisfaction and changes we'd like to see in our organization.

But do you ever wonder what exactly happens with our opinions and suggestions? Not much, according to a recent survey by Opinion Research Corp., a research and consulting firm based in Princeton, N.J.

Of 807 workers, 51 percent of them said their organizations conduct employee surveys. But of these employees, just 54 percent said changes occurred as a result. The survey has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Financial services companies appear to be the most frequent users of employee opinions, while nonprofits and manufacturing companies fall on the other end of the spectrum, according to the survey.

Terry Reilly, senior vice president and director of U.S. employee research practice at Opinion Research, says employers who do not take action or even share survey results can suffer negative consequences.

"The reason for that is expectations were raised by doing the survey," Reilly says. "You created an environment where you disappointed people."

In contrast, organizations that follow through on such surveys find that "trust levels could increase," Reilly says.

"An environment where people feel that they're being heard really makes a difference," he says.

Unless senior management of an organization is fully committed to listening to employees and making changes, Reilly says, his firm recommends against conducting another survey for the sake of doing it.

Workplace tidbit: Late to work today?

According to a recent survey by, 16 percent of 6,823 workers say they arrive late to work at least once a week.

About 25 percent acknowledge making up fake excuses. (The survey has a margin of error of 1.2 percentage points.)

In a separate survey of 2,591 hiring managers, 44 percent of them say they don't mind if employees are late as long as their work is completed on time and with good quality.

Still, one in five managers say they would consider firing an employee if the worker arrives late two or three times in a year.

Here are some unusual "why I'm late" excuses managers have heard from workers:

1. Someone was following me, and I drove all around town trying to lose them.

2. My dog dialed 911, and the police wanted to question me about what "really" happened.

3. My girlfriend got mad and destroyed all my undergarments.

4. I woke up and thought I was temporarily deaf.

5. I just wasn't "feelin' it" this morning.

What's your favorite excuse? Send your stories, tips and questions to working@baltsun. com. Please include your first name and your city.

On the Job is published Monday at

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