About the survey

It is more important than ever to really understand how your employees are feeling about their organisation and their place in it. 

For many businesses and organisations, confidence is the intangible ‘secret sauce’ that drives disproportionate performance and success.

It may be a little clichéd, but in sport there is a saying that if people and teams lack confidence, they have lost the match before it has even started. It’s no different in business. So, the question is: what battles is a business losing every single day, both big and small, because of an individual – or more importantly a collective – lack of confidence?

We all understand the impact, and predictive nature, of business confidence and consumer confidence, but until now we haven’t had the methodology to truly understand how confident employees are about their organisation’s potential for current and future success. Ask yourself: do your employees believe the organisation has a strategy that is fit for purpose? Do they believe the organisation is adaptable and resilient?

If the answer to these questions is yes, you are more likely to have a thriving business. If the answer is no, then there’s clearly work to be done to ensure your staff understand the strategy and where they should be putting their discretionary effort.

With this in mind K3, in partnership with BusinessDesk, is launching the Employee Confidence Survey, the world’s first survey to measure the extent to which an individual employee feels confident in the current and future success of their organisation. The survey is designed to make the intangible nature of confidence tangible through understanding the drivers or detractors of confidence.

If you know which factors are eroding confidence and they’re within your control, you will be able to correct them to improve the business’s performance and outcomes.

To help gauge the current state of New Zealand’s employee confidence levels, we begin with a single base-line question, which anyone employed in any organisation around the country should answer. This will enable BusinessDesk and K3 to build a representative sample of the current state of employee confidence at a national level. 

This also leads to a deeper-level Employee Confidence Pulse Survey. The result of months of research and careful design by a psychologist, this 12-question survey is for business owners and leaders to measure their own employees’ confidence and to gain actionable insights into how to improve it. 

Over time, we also aim to establish the link between business confidence and consumer confidence.

Why confidence matters

Anecdotally, research popularised by American psychologist Martin Seligman* suggests that New Zealanders’ resilience levels are lower than those of other international research populations. Part of this comes down to our attributional style – or the way in which we explain our successes and failures – which has proven links to our levels of resilience, wellbeing, and confidence more generally. Without resilience, people climb into a hole when they have had a setback; they stop working well with others, their efficiency wanes, and their home life can suffer. None of this drives businesses toward enhanced performance.

For any business leader, the risk is always that we become too focused on operational performance, getting done what needs to be done. While many managers and leaders strive to keep their employees ‘up’, the truth is there are a number of factors that may still be detracting from employees’ confidence. The Employee Confidence Pulse Survey sheds a light on the specific factors reducing and enhancing employee confidence, so that leaders can drive an improvement in in a more targeted and effective way.

While traditional engagement and staff surveys have been more backward-looking or have a point in time focus, confidence by its very nature is a forward-looking emotion and taps into employees’ understanding of their organisation’s strategic direction, leadership, adaptability, communication and internal alignment. 

It does this while also measuring whether staff understand how they will contribute to success, as well as ensuring they feel their career aspirations are going to be supported through their being part of the organisation. 

The end result is that the employee understands their place, their role and their purpose and the direction of the organisation, and has a heightened sense of belonging. 

High levels across each of these factors all lead to a more meaningful connection to the business, resulting in higher output, greater innovation and more discretionary effort. 

For most organisations, being static is actually no different from going backwards because your competitors will find new and improved ways to serve your customers. 

One thing is certain: customer expectations do not remain static. 

Low employee confidence significantly increases the likelihood that an organisation will remain static or go backwards in terms of its ability to predict customer needs, to create important improvements to products and services, and/or to innovate on the fly when issues arise. This is the very definition of a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ where customers’ increased dissatisfaction will further erode employee confidence.

The hard questions

As the nationwide sample of employee confidence scores grows, and anonymised data is captured, questions that will continue to be raised include:

  • Are senior executives more or less confident than junior staff?
  • Is employee confidence greater for blue- or white-collar workers?
  • Are Auckland employees more or less confident than those in the rest of the country?
  • How does the confidence of men differ from that of women? 
  • Does lower business confidence create lower employee confidence or vice versa?

Increased employee confidence results in the following demonstrable impacts:

  • Increased sales
  • Increased productivity 
  • Increased overall business performance
  • Increased ability for individuals to overcome challenges

What’s more, we believe that employee confidence is strongly linked to retention, discretionary effort, customer focus and, in turn, positive customer outcomes, problem solving, teamwork, increased innovative thinking, adaptability to change, and improved communication, to name just some key factors.  

Best practice for strong employee confidence

  • Communicate your strategy often, with a focus on how you will execute it. Where are you going, and why? 
  • What is going to make it hard, and how are you going to get through it? 
  • Why should staff be confident about where they are and where they are going?
  • Make sure your teams are not slipping into silos. 
  • Are managers/team leaders doing enough one on one, and with their teams, to increase confidence as they should be doing? Make sure they are and, if they don’t have these softer skills, help them now. 

Put simply, confident employees are more efficient, resilient, work better with other team members, solve problems more proactively and serve customers more effectively. Employee confidence predicts organisational resilience, adaptability, innovation and ultimately success.

What to do next

Fill in the single survey question below to contribute to the first-ever nationwide Employee Confidence Survey.

If you’re a business owner/employer you also have the opportunity to deploy the larger 12-question Employee Confidence Pulse Survey to your teams. 

All data collected is anonymous and can be used only to show results in totality, rather than at an individual level. 

*For links to Martin Seligman's research information contact K3