How the Morris Group is using technology to find out more about their employees’ needsWhen an organisation is spread over such a wide geographical area as the Morris Group – and encompasses such a broad range of industries – it can be difficult for those working at a strategic level to measure and understand the grassroots mood and morale. Yet being out of touch with employee needs, demands and wishes can threaten productivity, reputation, quality of work and make it hard to recruit enough skilled and talented people.
The Morris Group has diverse interests spanning the technology, agriculture, food and aviation industries in Australia and the UK and is parent to a charitable fund that gives to projects in international development, health, social welfare and sustainable food systems.
Challenge - What do staff really think?
The group had sent out a staff questionnaire a few years ago using a web survey, following an acquisition. However, they decided they wanted to delve a little deeper into staff sentiment – while also emphasising to employees that they were part of a larger group and the career opportunities this presents.
Executive director, Hayley Morris, explains: “We’re a group of very different businesses who have come together in a relatively short space of time. Many of the individual companies have their own internal communications, but we wanted to emphasise the benefits of being part of a wider group and so planned a variety of activities such as a group newsletter.”
She adds that, when it came to staff relations, most of the time the group was acting on hearsay. Business managers would report back on HR matters but often it was difficult for even them to listen to all employees and get to the real issues. “We wanted to measure what staff were thinking, but we also had other questions around job satisfaction, for example, or did they regard their manager as a good leader?,” she says.
Solution – An easy to use and implement app
Hayley decided to use Lumi Say, a versatile app that helps share content and capture insight via surveys and more. It gives instant access to data, visualised in real-time on a smart dashboard. “I don’t claim to be an expert,” she says, “but after some advice and demo app surveys from Lumi, I was able to script the survey and distribute.”
She decided to send out a text message rather than email, as many of the Morris Group staff work in the hospitality sector and so are not desk-based. Employees were asked to download the Lumi Say app which contained a survey of around 20 questions. The group will now be able to continue using the app for future surveys.
Staff were given around a week to reply before reminders were sent to those that hadn’t taken part yet via text message.
Results – Actionable insight
“The answers gave us some valuable insight,” says Hayley. “For example, as mentioned one of our main industries is hospitality, so we expected that a high number of those working for us here were casual and transient so not necessarily interested in long-term career prospects. But this proved to be an incorrect assumption. So it has highlighted an area where we need to do some work.”
It was also evident that answers were dependent on what was going on in a particular geographic region. This became clear when viewing answers from areas where there had been general economic problems across the state. The staff here had more issues that needed attention. “It’s useful for us to know that some problems are wider than just what the company is doing.”
The results were also valuable for helping to highlight the interests of staff. One of the strongest messages within the answers concerned taking action over the environment. As the Morris Group does have a robust environmental strategy, this underlined the need to communicate this more widely and make sure all employees know exactly what is being done in this area.
The Morris Group now aim to repeat this exercise every six months. Hayley says that she has learnt some lessons from this first survey so she will now be able to make the next one even more valuable. For example, understandably, employees tend to stay neutral wherever possible.
“The survey was partly anonymous, but perhaps we need to make it more so. We really want to get to the bottom of what our employees think, so don’t want them to err on the side of caution or worry about repercussions. I need to write the questions so it’s more difficult to give a bland answer,” she says. “I had also included a free text question at the end and this was revealing, so I would like to include more next time. It’s an opportunity for staff to say what they really think.” She also intends to use subsequent surveys to find out how much staff know about the entire group and its products and surveys, so will include some more specific marketing questions.
“We have a board meeting at every venue and naturally the business managers go through staff issues. However, we have to take their comments at face value. They don’t necessarily know everything that is going on. We are keen that nothing gets hidden, so we can act swiftly to remedy any problems,” she says.
“Using Lumi Say gives us a valuable opportunity to listen to those we wouldn’t necessarily hear from – and give them an opportunity to contribute. Only then do we have a true idea of our overall business.
“It’s a really versatile app,” Hayley concludes. “It’s already driven enhanced engagement between management and staff at the Morris Group and we see great potential to take that up another level in the future. By encouraging staff to contribute more we can raise issues and get them quickly resolved, thereby helping to improve overall employee satisfaction while at the same time increasing levels of productivity and operational efficiency.”