Measuring employee engagement: what we learned when we asked our team what they think of us

The task of measuring employee engagement and satisfaction can sound like a total snooze—especially for those entrepreneurs who work shoulder to shoulder with their team and think they know what’s on everyone’s mind. Isn’t formally surveying your employees too much of a fuss for a small business, like a pizza shop or a burger joint? Actually, it’s not.

Dodo Pizza, with its 25-people crew, is as far from being Boeing or Microsoft as you can imagine. Still, we’ve already done three employee surveys over the course of half a year. And we’re going to keep doing them regularly. Here is why.

You need feedback to grow

We believe that getting feedback—negative in particular—is the first step on the way to perfection. So if you want to improve your restaurant manager skills, you have to ask what people really think of your management practices.

Anonymity reveals the truth

Most people will have a hard time criticizing their coworkers, and especially superiors, face to face. Normally, human beings avoid saying unpleasant things to other human beings. Online anonymous surveys help to overcome this barrier.

People want to be heard

When you ask people to share their thoughts, experiences, and ideas, it makes them feel like they matter. Take actions to rectify revealed mistakes, and you will prove that every voice is heard and every member of your team matters.

Measuring employee engagement should be a part of your management system

Negative and honest feedback gets ten times more useful when you gather it regularly. We’ve been bugging our readers in a few of our latest posts on how important it is to set up procedures for everything that can improve your management. Regular surveys fit this mindset perfectly: they can be done on schedule (we are doing them every three months). And if you collect enough data, you can compare results and see trends. Is having 7% entirely unsatisfied people good or bad? Who knows. But if a quarter ago there were 20% of them, you’re definitely doing something better than before.

Online surveys cost nothing

In this day and age, conducting surveys and measuring employee engagement and happiness is no sweat. All you need is a list of questions and basic computer skills that will allow you to set up a simple form on Google Forms. Then all you have to do is send a link to every member of your team. It all can be done in an hour or two—which is nothing compared to the long-lasting benefits you gain.

Case study: how we’re doing our employee survey

We believe that the survey has to be short. People don’t have time to fill in an endless questionnaire. They will only have two or three minutes for you—five tops. Besides, your attention is also limited—you gather data to act on it, and you can’t act on too many issues. So burying your team in dozens of questions is useless.

Dodo Pizza’s form has only 13 questions divided into four sections that cover topics we deem essential: team collaboration, management practices, working conditions, and the company brand in general.

Atmosphere
How comfortable is it for you to work in your team?
Is there ever hostility between you and your colleagues?
Do the shift supervisors and the crew treat each other with respect?

Management
Evaluate the shift supervisors and GM
Do you have an opportunity to show your abilities?

Working conditions
Is the equipment in the restaurant in good condition?
Do you work overtime?
Are you going to quit the job in the near future?
Are you satisfied with your salary?

Company
Are you proud of working for Dodo Pizza?
Do you want to build a career at Dodo Pizza?
Would you recommend working at Dodo Pizza to your friends?
Share your opinion

How the team’s feedback changed our practices

The first twelve questions should be answered with a yes or no—or by giving a grade on a 5-point scale. The last question (“share your opinion”) gives an opportunity to freely air any grievances that might bug members of our team. Complaints and suggestions we got while measuring employee engagement became a source of invaluable insights and made a huge impact on our workflow.

People said that it wasn’t obvious what to do if you want to grow—we introduced a system of positions and clarified what it takes for a candidate to become a pizza maker and then a head pizza maker.

Members of our crew complained that our scheduling is too chaotic and you never know when you will have to work the week after—we rethought the whole process of picking employees for each shift (now every member of the team picks his usual hours and days and notifies us only if she has any changes for the week ahead).

Drivers raised the issue with tips paid via credit cards—we processed them every two weeks, while at many other places it was possible to get them in cash at the end of the day. So we also changed that.

Sometimes, even just talking about issues helps

When people say that your equipment is shoddy and it’s simply soul-sucking to cut mushrooms on a stupid slicer, you take actions and replace everything that gets in the way of raising kitchen efficiency. In some cases, though, you may think that some complaints aren’t relevant or fair. Still, it helps to address every raised issue. Since the survey is anonymous, we do it publicly by sending a message to the whole team in our closed Facebook group.

Poll numbers show you the results of your previous efforts

19 people participated in our December survey last year. 100% said that they weren’t going to quit their job in the near future. In March, this number dropped to 78.9%.

Though having 0% staff turnover is unrealistic for any pizza delivery, we were worried and took action. In July, the numbers improved.

The percentage of people willing to make a career at Dodo Pizza increased from 42% in March to 69% in July. Looks like we’re on the right track.

Since we started measuring employee engagement and satisfaction, it helped a great deal with evaluating all our practices. Not everything was perfect in our last poll—we also saw some negative trends. Stuff happens—but when managing a restaurant, it’s better to know what’s wrong than living in blissful ignorance.

We’re already right on top of every issue we spotted in our last survey. So let’s see what the next one will bring.