Army goes online to track satisfaction

For the first time, the Army is using the Internet to solicit feedback from its civilian employees about the service's vision, working conditions and business practices.

The service has conducted the Army Civilian Attitude Survey for more than 20 years, but this is the first time it has been offered online, which is a less expensive approach that service officials hope will also reach more workers.

The annual survey helps track and evaluate the morale and welfare of the civilian workforce, said Murray Mack, a personnel psychologist for the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army, in an announcement detailing the plan. The survey is voluntary and can be accessed at cpol.army.mil/survey/ dasurvey.

"In the past, the survey was only mailed to employees' home addresses, and the project costs were high, primarily due to printing and postage—approximately $200,000," Mack said. What's more, only 15,000 people were being sampled, and last year's response rate was 40 percent.

However, the online survey costs far less to conduct—$40,000—and Mack hopes to receive responses from all 225,000 of the Army's civilian personnel. The survey, which Mack estimates will take an employee 15 to 20 minutes to complete, can be filled out during the regular-duty day and accessed using a Social Security number. The Army will not collect names and will only report group results. The Army is conducting the online survey through September and for the first time will provide results to installation commanders, Army Secretary Thomas White and other senior leaders at the general officer level.

It is important that those taking the survey are notified of the results at some point, said French Caldwell, a research director at Gartner Inc. "Overall, business-to-employee activities are beneficial, but employees are looking for feedback," Caldwell said. "They want to know what happens as a result, so it is important the Army provide that information and close the loop between the employees and the leadership." Caldwell also said a successful response rate hinges on the Army's ability to get the word out. "If they are just counting on people to log on, then it runs the risk of not being representative of the whole," he said. "If you are sending notices asking people to click on and complete the survey, you can get a pretty good response."

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