Here’s how to avoid failing your employees

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I’ve recently been following a story in the paper about the ‘culture of fear’ in one of the biggest sportswear chains in the UK.

If you haven’t come across it, the story unfolded as an investigation found that ambulances were called out at one of the chain’s factories 76 times in two years.Physical

This wasn’t the only issue, however. The investigation revealed other major problems such as employees being paid less than minimum wage at times, zero hour contracts and sexual harassment.

To add to all this, they have also adapted a strike system where employees are given a strike for things like spending too much time in the toilet, talking and taking time off. 6 strikes and they’re out!

The reality of having such a culture in practice really sets in when we hear that a worker gave birth in the warehouse toilet because she was scared to take time off and lose her job.

Nonetheless, their employee survey returned 96% positive results on their experience of working for the company.


It turns out that this anonymous survey was in fact conducted face to face. It is no wonder that employees who are part of a culture of fear will provide positive feedback when face to face with the people who are in control of their livelihoods.

So what should an effective employee survey be/do?Smaller file size

  • Start with clear objectives in mind
  • Relevant to objectives- ask the questions you want to know the answers to
  • Well communicated to employees – ensuring managers have bought in to the process and are promoting it among their teams
  • Accessible to all employees – online and/or hard copies
  • Come with a reasonable timescale and that it doesn’t overlap with annual leave and shift work
  • Anonymous and confidential – an ‘Anonymous face to face survey’ is NOT going to give you reliable results
  • Quantitative and qualitative data
  • Measurable and comparable data
  • Not a tick box exercise – be prepared to create an action plan based on feedback
  • Communicate results to all participants, not just to senior management

If you need some help, click here for a complimentary guide on how to conduct a HSE (Health and Safety Executive) compliant survey.

A good place to start your journey is by completing our newly launched Corporate Stress Test – a fantastic way to learn how your organisation is doing on the stress front. To get some suggestions on actions you can take click HERE!

Sabina Cropped


Sabina Darie, Head of Marketing and PR (and Mischief!)

The Stress Management Society


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