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Is it time for a census (of your business)?

10th Feb 2022
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Last year, the nation was asked to participate in the census to give the UK Government a clear picture of the population in order to help with planning and funding public services in our local areas. While it was a very simple form for us all to complete, it was a vital tool for ensuring neighbourhoods get just what they need. Given how much your business has changed in the last two years thanks to the pandemic, perhaps a census within your workplace would be a good idea to ensure you can provide your employees with everything they need and want for the years ahead.

What to ask in a business census

The census should cover some but not all of the same topics as the citizen census, such as:

  • date of birth (to understand the most common ages within your workforce)
  • sex
  • primary address (to determine best locations for events or activities or relocation of premises)
  • other addresses (if applicable)
  • marital status 
  • number of children (as this can indicate a greater need for flexible working or childcare benefits)
  • mental and physical health (to determine if benefits in the form of gym membership, counselling or others may be well received)
  • qualifications
  • hours of work. 

As indicated above, these areas would provide you with great insight for evaluating existing employee provisions and planning new policies. For example, if you find that a large proportion of your workforce is approaching retirement age, you may want to look at the implications this would have on resources or give your managers some training in succession planning to plug any future gaps. 

The range of staff benefits that workplaces can offer nowadays is vast but your employees will prefer relevance over choice. A census within your business should enable you to evaluate your current benefit scheme. By looking at gender, age, marital status and number of children, you may identify a need to revise your maternity leave or childcare offering, or to introduce sabbaticals and duvet days. Major improvements can be made to employee satisfaction and retention by revising your benefits offering to better align with your staff. 

How to create a census

Before you panic about the increase in workload, this census does not need to be any more advanced than a simple survey that you run on a tool such as SurveyMonkey. You can set it so answers are anonymous but those that click through to the survey from an email will be entered into a competition (to incentivise taking part).

The better the survey tool you use, the more useful the analysis will be - many should automatically create charts from the findings to help you to draw valuable conclusions quickly.

Next steps

As soon as you have conducted your census and analysed the information, respond. The sooner you can react to the findings, the more of an impact you can have. Additionally, the longer you leave it, the more out of date your survey results will become. 

Make decisions about which policies to introduce/change, get board approval and budget to proceed and then communicate your decision to the workforce. Get them excited about how their views are impacting the business and what you will be providing. The more information and data you can give to explain your decisions, the better too.

Build a plan to implement each change and gather feedback frequently to ensure its success.  This way, if issues are discovered, it’s still early enough to put them right.

This could be a powerful moment in engaging your staff as they emerge from home working, and establishing a new, revived company culture. Seize the opportunity today.

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