This blog was originally published by me on 07/19/2010 at

For any VOC initiative, it is just as critical to conduct employee surveys as it is to survey customers.  Employee engagement drives customer engagement, and without understanding the hearts and minds of your employees, your VOC initiative will be incomplete.

Conducting employee surveys within your organization presents opportunities for you to show employees that you care about them and their needs. At the same time, it provides employees an avenue for providing feedback about the company, culture, management, tools, resources, training, and more.  For survey results to be most effective, employees need to trust that they can provide candid feedback in an anonymous fashion without retribution.

Even more important than conducting these surveys is to act on the results – and then to hold managers accountable for creating action plans and executing on them. However, is it a good or standard practice to compensate managers based on their employee satisfaction scores?  This is a practice that is difficult to support, given the following complications caused by providing incentives to managers based on the satisfaction of their employees.

  1. Any time you tie survey results to a bonus plan, managers will waste time and energy trying to find fault with the overall program design, survey questions, or data quality – instead of taking the candid feedback at face value, taking ownership, and putting the feedback to work. 
  2. Tying compensation to employee feedback also leads to situations that I refer to as the “car dealer syndrome,” which includes gaming the system, bribes, and other seedy behavior.
  3. The potential to earn more money because of these results can also lead to retribution for low scores and poor feedback; employees need to know they can provide feedback without fear of recourse for negative feedback.

If you want to reward your managers, use objective measures, such as employee turnover, that can’t be tinkered with.  If you feel the need to reward managers, do so based not on the scores and the feedback, but on the execution of action plans created as a result of the feedback.

Having said all that, I do believe that company executives should certainly have a portion of their bonus plans tied to both customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction scores.  Creating a customer-centric culture begins when you first focus on your employees and make their satisfaction a priority.  That focus can only be   driven by those at the top.