Avenue M conducted a no-cost employee survey with 18 associations

Elena Gerstmann, PhD, FASAE, CAE
gerstmann@avenuemgroup.com; Principal, Avenue M Group
Trevor Schlusemann, CIPP/E, CIPM
Schlusemann@avenuemgroup.com; Vice President, Market Research and Analytics and Data Protection Officer

(Image: Adobe Stock)

It isn’t remote working. In fact, most people find working remotely relatively easy. What they find challenging are safely shopping, maintaining their personal health, and dealing with stress about themselves or loved ones contracting COVID-19. AND…not surprisingly, they want their employer to ask them how they are doing. Nearly 9 out of 10 employees completed a brief survey when asked, and many thanked their employer for asking.

How do I know this? Because I asked. One of the things that was keeping me up at night was wondering how my friends and peers are doing. How are they holding up? How are they coping? Are they staying focused on the people and things that matter? I’m lucky that when I wonder, I can act on it because I work for a research group. Today, I’m happy to share a glimpse into how things are going.

Over the past week or so, over 600 employees from 18 organizations were asked to answer five questions about how they were doing. An astonishing 86% responded! (See bottom for information about methodology, response rates, and samples used. Contact me if you want your organization to participate in this no-cost survey.)

We asked them five questions:

How are you? Nearly half (48%) say they are doing “okay, all things considered.” An additional 41% are “Good, but could be better.” To me, these are extremely positive results. In a time of worry and stress, the employees on these teams are finding ways to be okay. Four percent say they are “Awesome, never better,” while 7% of respondents are feeling “Bad, but could be worse” or “Terrible.”

How is remote working? We asked individuals, “How difficult or easy have you found it to work from home/remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic?” I was pleasantly surprised at how few (2%) have found it “extremely difficult.” Nearly three out of five employees (58%) indicate it has been easy or extremely easy.

What challenges are you facing? Though employees indicate they are doing well overall, stresses associated with COVID-19 are still impacting them. Safely shopping for food and supplies is the most cited challenge by employees. Nearly half of employees are finding it difficult to maintain their own personal health, and 46% are feeling stressed about themselves or their loved ones contracting COVID-19.

As previously mentioned, most employees say they have found full-time remote working relatively easy. However, 45% report they are struggling to find a solid work/life balance while working remotely. Finally, nearly two in five employees are concerned about their employer’s financial health.

We provided employees with fifteen possible challenges to select from (including the ability to write in one’s own), and on average, individuals selected 4.7 challenges. The median and mode were both 4. (Thankfully, no one selected all of the challenges.)

How does your employer compare? Most employees think their employers are doing a great job compared to others. In fact, 84% say their employer is doing “Better” or “Much better” than other employers. (Approximately 3% didn’t have an opinion; they are not represented in the graphic below.)

There is potential bias in these results as participating employers had to agree to survey their employees, so this is a self-selected group of leaders who were either 1) unafraid to gather honest feedback from their employees or 2) knew the results were going to be in their favor. With that said, the survey was anonymous, so we are confident employees provided their honest opinion.

Anything else to add? The last question was an open text box, so employees could comment on anything related to the questions or provide suggestions to their employer. A little under a quarter (22%) of respondents expressed an opinion or provided a suggestion. These anonymous comments were provided to participating organizations. I’m happy to report that I’ve heard from a few CEOs already who appreciated receiving the suggestions from their employees and have already implemented changes.

What do these results tell us? Reviewing these results from the association industry and then comparing them to the more negative articles I read in the media makes me feel proud of our association community. The leaders and their staff are doing what this industry does best — leading by example and making a difference. I don’t know how well these 18 organizations represent the hundreds out there, but I’m hoping they do.

I want to thank the participating organizations for their involvement. Their participation enabled us to create this benchmark to share with the association community.

Methodology and Sample: To give back to the association industry, Avenue M Group offered a no-cost five-question survey for associations to see how their employees are doing. As of a few days ago, 18 organizations were participating. These organizations ranged from a staff size of 6 to a staff size of around 80. The average number of employees at a participating organization is 36. We were incredibly pleased that response rates were high; the average was 83%, with a few groups achieving 100% participation. The total number of participants, so far, is 523. The invitation was sent by the CEO or HR director of each organization to their own employees with a link to Avenue M’s survey. The link allowed each participant to be anonymous.

The data presented in this article were updated on April 24 at 8:42 pm (EDT).

We are still running this survey, so let us know if you would like to participate! Email me at gerstmann@avenuemgroup.com.