Employee survey as a means of organizational development in growth companies

A case study by Stefan Ringl, unitcell, October 2015

Experience shows that a company that multiplies its sales and number of employees in a dynamic market within about ten years first concentrates on satisfying customers, fending off competitors, further developing its products and services, and thus strengthening its own market power.

The internal organization, in particular the development of operational communication structures and the increased demands on management behavior due to rapid employee growth, quickly and understandably fade into the background. Sooner or later, it becomes apparent that the mood in the company, the motivation and the identification behavior of the employees, is no longer as it was in the early days; management and employees often mourn those times somewhat.

At this point, at the latest, it makes sense to have one's own organization looked at from the outside. The best time to do this is when decisions have to be made here anyway, because the business has developed further and also more broadly and new management levels become necessary, because the concentration on the managing directors and the associated management span are simply becoming too great.

The approach - inclusion of all employees

Out of this situation, the management together with the consultants of unitcell developed a project task for the "development of a growth dynamic organization while maintaining the owner-managed identity". Admittedly, a somewhat unwieldy title for a consulting project, but one that clearly contains essential messages:

  • The "new" organization must be designed in such a way that future planned growth can also be handled without any problems.
  • However, one of the most important advantages of the company, the high level of identification of the employees with the company and the owner family, must not be lost.

The approach proposed by unitcell therefore had to ensure from the outset that a large proportion, if not all, of the employees were involved in the redefinition.

For this purpose, a survey covering the entire workforce was the obvious choice. This was carried out anonymously with all employees via questionnaires, the results were analyzed and, in a second step, substantiated in personal discussions with selected employees from all departments of the company and across all hierarchical levels. The employees were given the option of also seeking a discussion with the consultants themselves. This form of employee survey lends itself to offering all employees the opportunity, at a reasonable cost, to express their views on topics relevant to the company's organizational structure and processes, their own satisfaction and expectations, and to help shape the future of the company.

The next steps

In the next step, a workshop was held with the company's executives, in which the evaluation of the survey was presented and discussed. The result of this intensive working session was the adoption of a course of action regarding the organizational restructuring of the company. For this purpose, it was discussed with the unitcell consultants where the company sees itself in the next five years and how these goals are to be achieved, also taking into account the employees' wishes.

The results of the employee survey and the management workshop were presented to all employees in conjunction with the upcoming changes.

Well prepared, clearly recognizable to those involved and supported by the employees from the outset, the necessary changes in the company could thus be tackled.

Everyone is now eagerly awaiting the results of a new employee survey, which has already been decided upon, in order to be able to react sensitively to the currents in the company, even with the interim results achieved after just over a year.