I have conducted cultural assessments over the past 18 years. These assessments gather two sets of data: quantitative and qualitative. Whereas organizations love their metrics, I find the more important data set is the qualitative data – the stories, observations and perceptions offered in focus groups and interviews by people who work in the organization.
Consider these questions. How thoughtful are people when they answer a survey with multiple questions and the same five responses? How often do people use a survey to express dissatisfaction with their company or to sugar coat what’s going on? How accurate can this data be? You get what I think is more valuable data when small groups of people are in a room and given the time and space to reflect on the cultural issues.
Recently, I tried a little experiment. I wanted to gather some qualitative data. I set up a five question survey on SurveyMonkey to find out what it is about people’s jobs that they like. These were open-ended questions. (See Table 1). I utilized SurveyMonkey’s capability to pay for responses. I selected the demographics I wanted and the number of participants. (I chose 200 because I had a limited budget.) I also sent out personal emails with a link to the survey, posted it multiple times on Facebook and LinkedIn and highlighted it on my website. Despite my best efforts, only 92 people participated.
Something occurred during the SurveyMonkey polling that is worth mentioning. The survey shut down twice because people didn’t want to finish it. Apparently, the respondents didn’t like the open-ended questions. SurveyMonkey suggested that I follow a more tried and true approach, employing questions with forced choices. I didn’t heed their advice and change my survey. I wanted more thoughtful responses. I got what I believe is some interesting data and it came from the respondents. Here is what I found out:
Please note: I counted the frequency with which a word/phrase was mentioned to derive these findings.
- 30% of the participants cited helping people and/or working with people as reasons why they liked their jobs. That said, 38% of the survey respondents work in healthcare, nonprofits or education.
- 17% of the respondents offered independence/autonomy in decision-making as a key factor; 16% offered job flexibility; and 14% offered challenging work.
- Only two people (2%) cited their paycheck as something they liked about their jobs. This number increased to 26 people (28%) when respondents were asked to list three things about the company that made it a good place to work. People also like the compensation packages they receive as evidenced by the 20 people (22%) who listed benefits among their top three items.
- Respondents had a more positive view of their immediate supervisors than they did of their management. When asked to share what it is they liked about their immediate supervisors, only two responses were negative. This as compared to the data gathered for the following question: “What is it about the management in your company that you like?” 21% of the respondents or 19 people were negative, writing things such as “Not much;” or “Nothing.”
- 17% of the participants liked that their supervisors didn’t micromanage them.
- Qualities such as being knowledgeable, supportive and honest, extending trust and giving positive feedback were most frequently used to describe why supervisors were liked.
- Qualities such as caring, being supportive and giving trust were cited the most as reasons respondents liked their management.
- 26% or 24 respondents listed co-workers, the team and/or the people at the organization as one of three things that contributed to their positive feelings about their workplace.
What do you think? Obviously, there are limitations with my first attempt to gather anecdotal information about the reasons people like their jobs. My hope is to do more research by talking to people and mounting additional surveys over the next few months.
In the meantime, if you want to be part of the data collection and talk about why you like your job, please let me know. And, if you think the findings have implications for your workplace, please contact me for a free consultation. I can be reached at email@example.com.