Pittsylvania County's Human Resources Department conducted two surveys in the last two years to gauge employee opinion on various aspects of working for the county government.
Holly Stanfield, Human Resources Manager, said they first did the 2018 survey because the county had never done one before.
"[A survey] is always a good tool to gauge employee satisfaction, morale and find areas which need more attention," Stanfield said.
Two identical surveys were sent to each county employee, one at the end of 2018 and another at the end of 2019. These surveys, conducted through SurveyMonkey, asked the same questions in the same order.
The survey asked questions such as "How happy are you at work?" and "How valued are your skills and abilities at work?" and asked for an answer of 1 to 5, with 1 being the most negative response and 5 being the most positive response.
From 2018 to 2019, several questions saw the percentage of 4 and 5 answers increase by as much as 15 percentage points.
"We're very satisfied with the results," Stanfield said.
One of the most dramatic improvements came with the responses to the question "Are you satisfied with your county health insurance?"
In 2018, 24 percent of people answered a 1 while 9 percent of people answered a 5. In 2019, those numbers switched, meaning a much larger percentage of people were "very satisfied" with their county health benefits by the end of 2019.
Stanfield said this improvement in employee satisfaction is because the county hired a new provider for voluntary health insurance which lowered their premium costs.
"Any time people see a difference in their paycheck going in their direction, that makes people happy," Stanfield said.
Stanfield says the county has taken active steps to improve the health of its employees, namely through the addition of a wellness incentive. For undergoing a yearly preventative wellness exam, county employees earn $125.
"The thought process is to have employees take control of their health," Stanfield said.
Survey results also show an increase in the number of employees satisfied with how well the county is communicating internally.
The question "How well does Pittsylvania County communicate information, priorities and values?" saw 13 percent more people answer a 5 and 16 percent more people answer a 4.
"That was one of our focuses last year," Stanfield said. "To communicate meaningful information to our employees."
2019 saw the county start sending a monthly newsletter to county employees with notifications of anything that might affect them.
In addition, the question "How strong is the spirit of teamwork and cooperation among County employees?" saw a boon of five percent to the number of 4 responses and 11 percent to the number of 5 responses. At the same time, the number of 2 responses fell by ten percent.
This past year, county employees have been making up an Employee Event Committee, which has been brainstorming and organizing events for county employees to participate in. This past October, this committee organized the County's first Wellness Fair, something Stanfield says the county hopes to continue.
The final question on the survey, "How likely are you to recommend Pittsylvania County as a place to work?" saw the number of 4 and 5 responses jump from 25 percent and 15 percent to 39 percent and 30 percent, a increase of fourteen and fifteen points, respectively.
"That obviously makes us happy," Stanfield said.
While many responses to the 2019 survey questions were either more positive or stayed nearly the same from what they were in 2018, the total response turnout was far lower.
The 2018 survey saw 182 responders while the 2019 survey saw only 102. Stanfield says this is an expected phenomenon called "survey fatigue."
"In my experience, it's not uncommon for people to just not respond," Stanfield said.
For this reason, the county will not be performing a survey in 2020, and is considering making the survey a semi-annual occurrence.