When it comes to what your team members think of working for your landscaping company, there’s no better place to get information than directly from them. But many employees won’t be willing to speak up. That’s why using surveys can make a huge difference. It can be an opportunity for your team to share helpful information.
Doug McDuff, president of Landscape America in Wrentham, Massachusetts says that he has incorporated regular team surveys into business operations and though it sounds like a simple thing, it’s allowed them to closely connect with what crews are thinking.
“We started surveying our team members three years ago and it’s made a big difference in our team culture, retention rate, and even our ability to bring in new people,” McDuff explains. “We have found it’s really important to pay attention to the feedback crews are giving—even if it’s something seemingly small.”
In surveying team members, McDuff says they’ll ask what helps to keep team members dedicated and loyal. Responses have been things like a “fun workplace,” that it “feels like family,” and that the "owners show respect to the crews." Of course, they’ll also ask for areas of improvement, and they’ve gotten responses like “more training,” “more maintenance equipment,” and “better guidelines for phone usage on job sites.”
McDuff says this is useful feedback—and direct from the people who matter most to the company.
“We allow employees to respond to surveys anonymously and have found that helps make people more comfortable in speaking up,” he says. “The feedback we’ve gotten has been invaluable.”
McDuff says that they’ve used both online and written surveys to gather this information.
“The online survey gives the team members more of a feeling of anonymity,” he says. “However, we have needed managers’ help in reminding the team to complete the surveys.”
Surveys can be easily set up online, McDuff adds. Landscape America keeps it to two simple questions: On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to refer a friend or relative to work here is the first question. The second question is, “Why?”
“It is a team effort go get everyone to fill out the survey,” McDuff continues. “But the data is easy to organize and analyze once it’s complete.”
The company surveys employees once per year—usually in the fall. This gives them time to assess the responses before heading into what can be a very busy snow and ice season in New England.
Using the information
Ultimately, obtaining the survey responses is only part of the process, says McDuff. It’s what you do with that information that counts.
“I think the real impact comes from sharing what you’ve learned from the survey results with your team, then telling them what you intend to add, change, delete, or implement based on their suggestions,” he says. “Then, actually follow through and do it—and let them know you did."
Asking for team members’ input and then actually putting it into action makes a big difference in how people feel about the company.
“When we as business owners are actively listening to our team members and giving them the opportunity to create a positive change in the company, there is definitely a strong feeling of ownership in the culture,” McDuff says. “We need to remember that with every set of hands, we get a free brain. Our team members have had some great ideas that we wouldn’t have been aware of if we didn’t ask.”