Employee Sentiment Analysis: Why You Should Care And 4 Ways To Measure It
The US job market saw 4.1 million people quitting in 2022. While each of these people will have had personal reasons for leaving their workplace, most would have shared one common feeling at the heart of it all: unhappiness.
High turnover is bad for business. As well as losing skilled employees, you’re spending money (where you otherwise wouldn’t need to) on advertising, recruitment, and training.
So, how can organizations spot when employees aren’t satisfied? Not only that, but early enough to do something about it? The answer is simple—ask them.
It doesn’t have to be a time-consuming or awkward process. In this article, you’ll learn what employee sentiment is, why you should take it into account, and how to measure it in a faster, cost-effective way.
What Is Employee Sentiment?
Employee sentiment is the general feeling in your workplace among your staff. It’s based on the ever-changing emotions, attitudes, and behaviors of individuals as well as a collective.
This can be affected by factors like:
The amount of recognition each employee gets compared to others
The level of happiness and satisfaction within their role
The relationship with their team members and management
The number of opportunities available for growth and upskilling
Effective alignment between personal and company values
Since the pandemic, burnout, mental health, and well-being have become huge talking points. Not just on social media but in the business world too. It’s also becoming clear how these states of mind all affect productivity.
Positive employee sentiment leads to:
More effective team performance and alignment
A strong employer brand (with employees happy to be ambassadors)
Less workplace stress due to internal factors
Burnt-out employees are more likely to seek a better work-life balance elsewhere—a process that will affect both your turnover rates and bottom line negatively.
Why Should You Measure Employee Sentiment?
It’s nice but not enough to ask employees, “How are you?” when passing them in the hallway. Team analysis and employee sentiment go deeper than that.
We all know performance management is important. However, it’s more important to understand what could be affecting each employee’s performance.
Measuring employee sentiment allows you to find out:
The overall employee experience you’re providing
Organizational strengths and weaknesses
Teamwork issues between employees
Positive or negative feelings toward initiatives, workplace culture, or leadership
The general level of employee satisfaction in the workplace
While this can unearth some hard truths and criticism, it’s a process that can help your business grow and transform. If your employees aren’t happy, they won’t be providing the optimal experience for customers.
This can be even harder to keep on top of in remote work organizations when you rarely see each other in person. Regularly delving into areas in which leadership and processes could improve can result in a more productive work environment and team all round.
Employee Sentiment Analysis vs Employee Engagement Surveys
If you don’t have a human resources department, it’s up to you to collect this information. Employee surveys are a popular method, but they aren’t all built the same.
Two types of surveys with different functionalities are:
Employee engagement surveys
Employee sentiment analysis
So, how do they differ?
Employee engagement scores are a type of quantitative data. These are usually multiple-choice survey questions where the answers range from “Strongly disagree” to “Strongly agree”. This results in hard data (metrics) that give an overview of the level of engagement among employees.
Qualitative data is non-numerical. Rather than numbers, it collects characteristics and qualities. In the case of sentiment analysis, it looks at the type of language used in employee feedback and what this suggests.
Just like performance reviews, employee engagement surveys tend to happen once a year. These annual surveys give you information from one moment in time. It’s important to note that employee opinions may have changed since then.
Done right, sentiment analysis should be a regular part of workplace life. Pulse surveys are brief sets of questions that are regularly sent out to employees. Analyzing sentiment this way should give you actionable insights based on up-to-date data.
4 Ways To Collect and Measure Employee Sentiment
Employee sentiment analysis can be broken down into two categories:
Collecting the data
Measuring and scoring it
While collecting the insights is qualitative, they can also be scored quantitatively. Your task is to do both in a way that’s time-efficient but gleans meaningful insights.
Check Third-Party Review Sites
If you’re a large enough organization, you may already have feedback online waiting to be discovered. One of the most well-known sites for this purpose is Glassdoor. Here, current and previous employees anonymously review companies with both positive and negative experiences.
The site asks participants to rate companies on factors like:
Compensation and benefits
Workplace culture and values
There are set questions and plenty of chances for open responses, which should give you a good amount of information to work with.
Reading through your reviews (if you have them) can help shed light on areas in which employees are unhappy. You may have a poor benefits package and a manager that isn’t well-regarded. On the other hand, you may see a lot of positive feedback about your culture and DEIB policies.
You can set alerts on the site to make sure you’re reading reviews in real time. You could also search for your company name on social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook for extra insights in comments.
Have Face-to-Face Conversations With Employees
While certainly the more arduous route, it’s a lot easier to assess someone’s mood and interpret speech when you’re hearing it in person. For example, a machine won’t be able to pick up on tone (like sarcasm or humor) in the same way people can.
While these conversations humanize the process, they come with their own set of hurdles. Asking directly whether or not someone enjoys working at your company probably won’t result in an honest answer. So, you have to tailor your questions in a way that won’t make employees feel awkward or uncomfortable.
You could phrase them in a more constructive way. For example:
“How could we improve our onboarding experience?”
- “If you could change one thing about your daily working life, what would it be?”
- “Are there any initiatives you’ve seen at other companies that you think could work here?”
- “Our retention rate for your department isn’t great, how do you think we could increase it?”
This phrasing will still give you the answers you need in a more positive manner.
If you want to get the most out of your employees, make sure to conduct any interviews in a comfortable location. It’s also good practice to have someone speak to them one-to-one, so they don’t feel too pressured by a group interview.
Create Your Own Employee Sentiment Analysis Survey
If you’d like to collect results in a more automated way, consider creating your own employee sentiment analysis survey. This involves writing a selection of questions (relevant to your business) that will give you an insight into the general feeling among employees.
There are a few basic best practices every organization should follow when creating and conducting employee sentiment surveys:
Keep the language of survey questions clear, easy to read, and relevant
Ask the same questions over time to measure progress against starting benchmarks
Keep answers anonymous so employees feel they can be honest about workplace issues
Ensure everyone has a private place to answer each question (an open space office won’t do it)
You could ask to what level your team agrees with statements like:
I love working for my boss
I love working with my team members
I love working for my company
It’s also important to include open-ended questions where employees can share feedback in more detail.
One of the main issues of doing all of this yourself is structuring and making sense of the data afterward. It’s easy to compile the number of “strongly agree” results. It’s harder to score the type of words and language used to create a benchmark.
Employee Sentiment Analysis Tools
Measuring employee sentiment analysis can clearly become complicated. If you’re wondering how you can collect and score the kind of language every employee is using, artificial intelligence can lend a hand.
For real-time decision-making, you need real-time data. Natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning can interpret a huge amount in minutes. Some can translate or work with multiple languages for global workforces. They can also interpret abbreviations, slang, and even emojis if trained properly.
These sentiment analysis tools scan through employee comments in survey responses and use algorithms to uncover underlying positive and negative feelings. Then they collate and filter these workplace analytics to result in an overall sentiment score. The process can also work with emails, social media comments, and any other textual content.
The type of tool you use will depend on the size of your organization and the insights you’d like to collect and track. Here are three examples of sentiment analysis software to look into:
At Most Loved Workplace®, we offer something slightly more specialized. Do you consciously place love for your employees at the center of your business model? If so, our certification will certainly be for you.
Send out pulse surveys directly to your employees to find out if they love working for you. It only takes 3-4 minutes for them to fill in. After that, we’ll collate the data into one easy dashboard.
If successful, you’ll receive our official certification. If you end up being one of the top 100 companies on our list, you’ll get the chance to be featured in Newsweek.
If you want honest feedback, you need to make it clear why you’re asking for it. Be transparent with your employees and explain how you’ll use the information to make meaningful changes to improve their everyday experience.
While human-to-human interaction can pick up on the nuances of speech, AI-powered tools may provide more motivation for employees to speak truthfully. Successful employee sentiment analysis will likely involve mixing both strategies.
Did you know 94% of employees report they are likely to perform better for a Most Loved Company®? If you’d like to reap those rewards, let us help you get certified today.
Louis Carter is the founder and CEO of Best Practice Institute, Most Loved Workplace, and Results-Based Culture. Author of In Great Company, Change Champions Field Guide, and Best Practices in Talent Management, as well as a series of Leadership Development books. He is a trusted strategic advisor and coach to CEOs, CHROs, and leaders of mid-sized to F500 companies – enabling change and steering employer brand development together with highly effective teams, leaders, and organizations as a whole.