Instead of Assuming What Hourly Workers Want, Ask Them: Using Lean Data to Amplify Employee Voices

The Design

To date, 60 Decibels and SJF have collaborated to deploy surveys at two SJF portfolio companies — ShipMonk, a provider of multi-channel order fulfillment and inventory management services for small- and mid-sized e-commerce businesses, and TemperPack, a manufacturer of proprietary sustainable thermal packaging solutions. While the survey design and deployment strategies were uniquely modified to meet ShipMonk and TemperPack’s respective goals, the primary objective remained consistent across both projects — create a robust mechanism to hear directly from workers about what job quality characteristics and benefits matter most to them. Specifically, 60 Decibels, SJF, and each portfolio company team designed question sets that would directly and intentionally gather information on hourly worker satisfaction and ideal benefits, both traditional and creative in nature, to understand the perceived upside of optimizing wage versus other offerings that are valuable to driving employee satisfaction and quality jobs. The survey walked through a complete worker journey, through each employee’s Profile, Acquisition, Experience, Impact, and Retention experience, and while the included questions were very targeted, high-level topics included:

  • How satisfied are employees?
  • What challenges do employees report?
  • Do employees feel supported?
  • What benefits are most valued and how do they rate overall?
  • How reliant are employees on their company income?
  • Do employees want to continue working with the company?
  • What are employees’ general suggestions for improvement?

The Deployment

At ShipMonk, the team designed and distributed two distinct online surveys across its corporate and hourly worker teams to address specific issues and questions relevant to each population. With corporate and hourly employees working in three separate locations including the company’s Fort Lauderdale, Florida headquarters and two facilities in Pittston, Pennsylvania and Los Angeles, California, the ShipMonk team explained the impetus for launching the initiative, conveyed detailed information about the survey, and provided ample time for survey completion to ensure maximum input. TemperPack took a different approach related to survey population by focusing this initiative solely on hourly employees working at the company’s two manufacturing facilities in Richmond, Virginia, and Las Vegas, Nevada, and offered the survey in both English and Spanish to ensure all employees were able to provide feedback.

The Results

Once the surveying period ended, 60 Decibels began its work analyzing the responses to the multiple choice, sliding scale, and open-ended questions included in each company’s assessment. 60 Decibels not only retrieved and compiled all data, but also presented its findings to SJF and leadership at each company. The data unlocked valuable insights for ShipMonk and TemperPack about their employees and company cultures — highlighting specifics like communication tactics, healthcare benefits, opportunities for career progression, and access to training opportunities. Through this Lean Data approach, company leadership learned about what their employees value most, of the ways in which they are excelling and also the “blind spots” in their operations and human resource practices, and about surprising differences in opinion across employees working at different sites. Most importantly, these insights provided an invaluable springboard to discussion, plan creation, and action in direct response to employee feedback.

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60 Decibels

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