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To describe the past 18 months as something of a rough period for the ride-hailing giant Uber is like describing the village of Oymyakon, in northeast Russia, as a little chilly at this time of year. The company has seen its CEO resign amid allegations of improper business practices and its head of HR resign amid accusations that her team ignored reports of racism. There have also been headlines branding Uber a “toxic work environment for women,” in addition to claims that employees are underpaid.
There aren’t necessarily the typical characteristics you’d associate with a high-quality employer. Yet, the surprisingly positive results from Uber’s latest employee engagement survey may suggest that perceptions are changing - inside Uber, at least.
According to Business Insider, which published all the results of the latest twice-yearly Uber employee engagement survey, employee sentiment rose in many categories, including the below questions that focus on the employee experience as a whole.
- I feel heard by my manager: 73 percent
- I feel secure about my job: 66 percent
- I feel fairly treated: 63 percent
- Uber acts in a socially responsible way: 63 percent
- I feel the work I'm doing is meaningful and impactful: 63 percent
- I have access to the learning and development needed to do my job well: 60 percent
- I feel excited to come to work every day: 58 percent
- I am able to manage my work stress in a healthy way: 56 percent
- Even if offered a competitive offer or external career opportunity, I would choose to stay at Uber: 45 percent
But it wasn’t all good news for Uber - there’s still some work to be done to improve their employee experience given that they saw a decline in rates to the following survey questions.
- I am passionate about Uber's mission: 77 percent
- I feel I can report ethical or compliance violations without fear of retaliation : 71 percent
- I have seen positive culture change take place at Uber over the past six months: 62 percent
Despite all its troubles, Uber is currently valued at around $72 billion and is in a race with Lyft to go public first. So the company is clearly doing some things right. What can other companies learn from the results of this survey?
1. Ask employees for their opinions - no matter how hard they may be to hear
Having a regular employee engagement survey where you give employees the chance to give feedback about your company and then - just as importantly - make those results accessible and transparent to the whole organization, might sound scary to some businesses, but it really shouldn’t. It encourages a more trusting and collaborative company culture, allows employees to feel heard and empowered to perform better (and enjoy their jobs overall) and, ultimately, provides the necessary data and insights to the leadership team to implement changes that will improve the employee experience.
2. Ask a broad range of questions
You’ll notice that Uber’s employee experience survey covers a wide range of subjects from personal job satisfaction to loyalty and engagement with the company and bigger picture questions on subjects such as the company’s direction or culture.
This provides an overview of the company and allows management to see where your company is succeeding and where you’re failing, as well as drawing parallels between sets of results that are impactful and actionable.
3. Don’t dismiss feelings
You’ll notice that in its employee survey, Uber doesn’t ask “Are you fairly treated?” or “Are you heard by your manager,” but “Do you feel you’re fairly treated?” and “Do you feel heard by your manager.”
In the hard-nosed world of business, facts, figures and KPIs tend to rule. And it’s easy to forget that good management is the art of managing emotions as much as results. Employees are people and it doesn’t matter what stats suggest if employees feel otherwise. Plus, the gut feel of large numbers of employees (the Uber survey was answered by more than 18,000 employees) are usually a pretty successful barometer for what future figures will back up.
So when are you sending out your next employee engagement survey? What do you hope to learn from it? And, most importantly, are you, your managers and your company’s leadership open to using the results to drive the agenda for the year ahead?