"According to the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Financial Research in a report released in March, “corporate debt outstanding has risen to $7.4 trillion, up from $5.7 trillion in 2006,” noting that a significant portion of that was spent on share buybacks. The report goes on to note that “Although this financial engineering has contributed to higher stock prices in the short run, it detracts from opportunities to invest capital to support longer-term organic growth. Credit conditions remain favorable today because of the positive trend in earnings, but once the cycle turns from expansion to downturn, the buildup of past excesses will eventually lead to future defaults and losses.” via wallstreetonparade.com
That rise in corporate debt of $1.7 t-t-t-rillion (That's 1000 x a billion which is 1000 x a million.) has been invested in almost everything but the employee's wages, benefits, wage increases, training, did anyone say training, upgraded tools and resources.
No matter how many Chief Happiness Officers and balloons and bring-a-pet to work days or casual Fridays or ping pong games and dodgeball leagues you offer ... the employees see where the company is investing. And it ain't them. And the returns on those investments don't come to them.
Sure, you say it provides them their jobs. Okay, great. But then why do the other stakeholders get so much more? Why are the executive compensation packages so much more, 3-400 times more than the average employee?
And when the cycle turns from expansion to downturn, the buildup of past excesses will eventually lead to layoffs, first. Before the future defaults and losses, the first idea to save the company is always ... LAYOFFS. RIFs, downsizes, outsourcing ...
So the next time you consider a survey, give yourself a one-question survey:
Do we invest more in stock buybacks than we do in their salary increases, training, new hires?
And if the answer is "yes," then ask yourself what's the point of the survey. The employees know you don't care. You show it to them everyday in where you invest what you think is your most important asset, cash, on behalf of your most important asset: no, it's not your employees, it's your shareholders.
And if the answer is "no," why are you surveying your employees? Go talk to them. Go listen to their ideas. You've earned the right, their respect, by investing in their success.