How to Improve Employee Satisfaction After Organizational Change

By Henrieke van Bommel

Changes within an organization, or even a reorganization, can have a significant impact on employees. Sometimes their role changes, they are placed in a different position or organizational unit, or they may need to undergo training to meet new requirements. But even if personnel changes are limited, there are still consequences for employees.

This was also the case with an organization in the cultural sector, where a new director had been appointed. He made several changes and opted for a more commercial approach. Some of these changes caused unrest among employees. The management wanted to address this unrest and therefore sought the assistance of Highberg.

Henrieke van Bommel is an Analytics Translator at Highberg and is eager to share about this process.


How satisfied are employees and what can be improved?

The reason for the research was that people were less satisfied than before. But how do you investigate how satisfied people are and why? Henrieke explains: "In such a situation, you not only want to know the current situation, but especially where and what you can improve. Our proposal was to start with a qualitative study with interviews, followed by a quantitative study with a questionnaire. This way, you have a good combination of more in-depth information from a smaller group, which you can then validate with the entire population. At Highberg, we have extensive experience with both qualitative and quantitative research and are good at combining the two."

Keeping the research with Highberg confidential

That's not the only advantage of choosing a partner like Highberg. Henrieke explains: "The great advantage of conducting this research together with an external party is that the results remain anonymous for the organization. For example, the management of this organization does not know who we interviewed during the interviews."

"We also sent out the questionnaire in the second part of the study. Ultimately, the client only sees the aggregated data, without individual employee data or access to individual results. These cannot be traced back from the data. For the organization itself, the research is therefore completely anonymous and confidential."

Selecting a representative group of participants

As mentioned, the study started with interviews. Henrieke says: "We first selected a group of people we wanted to interview. We tried to include as many employees from different groups as possible. In total, we interviewed twenty people, trying to speak to people from all levels. We created a confidential environment, so people felt comfortable sharing their stories."

Gathering valuable information through interviews

The goal is to extract as much valuable information as possible from the interviews. Henrieke says: "We really encouraged participants to share everything about what was happening within the organization and what needs to improve according to them. These were sensitive issues because a lot was going on. You can only uncover this by involving an independent third party. By conducting it this way, you build trust that you are taking it seriously."

We ultimately wanted to deliver improvement points to reconnect with each other. That employees work together with each other and with management in a pleasant atmosphere. We focused on internal communication because it turned out to be a prerequisite for that internal connection.

After interviews, quantification is the next step

"Based on the results of the qualitative research, topics are determined that are reflected in the questionnaire. About such a topic, such as leadership or communication, you then ask a number of questions. We always work with certain constructs that contain fixed questions. This way, you can systematically survey all employees of the organization."

"Topics covered in the questionnaire included the eNPS (Employer Net Promoter Score), but also work culture, undesirable behavior, internal communication, collaboration, and more. The response rate was over 80%. That's quite high and indicates that employees consider the research important. We analyzed the results and then summarized them in a final report. The beauty of combined qualitative and quantitative research is that you can interpret the questionnaire results with the interview findings along with the information people provide in open-ended questions."

Presenting outcomes and next steps

The final report was presented to the management team and the works council. Henrieke says: "The outcomes were quite intense. Of course, they knew that there were issues, but the research made it very concrete. For example, it uncovered that problems were not only occurring in certain parts of the organization, as they thought, but it was actually an issue for the entire organization. Along with the report, we provided advice, recommending to initiate a culture change process. With that, we concluded this project and the next steps can be determined."

Strong engagement throughout the process

Henrieke was pleasantly surprised by the engagement in the process. "It was great to see that everyone attached a lot of value to it. For example, our proposal had to go through the works council. We received quick feedback and a positive response. The employees were also highly involved. Everyone wanted to participate, even from their vacation spot if necessary! Also, the fact that not a single interview was missed says something. I've seen it differently before."

Combining qualitative and quantitative research is powerful

The research has yielded a lot of valuable information. Henrieke says: "The topic of the research is and remains extremely sensitive. In such cases, working with an external party is really key. People then have a safe place to share their stories."

"Moreover, the combination of qualitative and quantitative research is great. Firstly, because it gives employees confidence in the questionnaire. They know it is based on the interviews and therefore really applies to them. Secondly, the qualitative start is strong in itself. You can share more background because you get more in-depth information from individual employees. While the research is conducted according to an anonymous method. Additionally, you come across things that you might not have thought of beforehand and would not have asked otherwise. And now you can nicely follow up with the quantitative questionnaire."


The biggest challenge was to present the quite negative outcomes in a good way. That's important because, for example, unwanted behavior is prevalent in many organizations. Such behavior is reported, but people are not satisfied with the follow-up. So, such an organization needs to do something about it. That's what I would like to convey as well. Visualize what happens with a report, so people dare to speak up and you gain more insight again. I'm proud that we have been able to uncover this because only then can you make a change!


Would you like to learn more about different types of employee surveys?

Then contact our Managing Partner Gido!

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