Employers all over the world are feeling the toll of labor shortages and economic pressure. To keep their workforces happy, satisfied, and retained, companies are going all in on the idea of employee engagement. Studies show that engaged employees are more productive, loyal, and committed to the company’s mission—and that has a direct impact on your bottom line.
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But how do you measure the extent to which employees feel appreciated, satisfied, and emotionally invested in their jobs? Many companies turn to organization-wide engagement surveys.
An effective survey can be used to gain an understanding of what motivates and inspires your team members and can provide valuable insight into how to create a better workplace. Let’s take a closer look at why employee engagement surveys are so important and how to design them.
What is an Employee Engagement Survey?
An employee engagement survey is a management tool that provides a clear picture of where the company stands in terms of engaging its employees.
The survey involves a series of questions (or a single question, if you’re conducting pulse surveys) about different aspects of engagement.
It mostly includes questions about:
Job and employee satisfaction
By using the survey results, employers can uncover underlying problems, take the steps to overcome them, and ultimately, improve engagement levels.
Designing an Employee Engagement Survey
When creating your company’s engagement survey, it’s important to consider what questions will get the most valuable information about your employees’ experiences. Consider including questions about job satisfaction levels, management and leadership styles, benefits and, compensation, work-life balance, growth opportunities, and company culture.
Make sure each question is clear and concise so that employees understand exactly what they are being asked. Also, be aware of using too many open-ended questions as these can be difficult to analyze and synthesize into actionable insights.
What to Ask on Your Employee Engagement Survey
If you’re about to conduct an employee survey for the first time or would like to improve your existing survey, there are certain questions that you must include.
We’ve categorized them into questions about company culture, management, job satisfaction, remote work, DEI, safety, and mental health. You can also use these questions as a template for your own survey!
Company Culture Questions
Company culture plays a critical role in deciding the extent to which your employees are engaged.
In fact, 88% of employees believe that having a distinct workplace culture was crucial for the success of any business.
In light of that, you should most definitely include a few questions about company culture to measure how it’s doing.
Here are a few examples:
How would you describe our company culture?
Without asking anyone or referring to any collateral, what are the company’s core values?
Do you feel that you receive enough respect from your coworkers?
Do your colleagues appreciate teamwork?
Do you feel that the company itself lives up to its core values?
Besides culture, you need to include employee survey questions about the management/leadership.
After all, it is the supervisors, middle-managers, and C-level executives/decision-makers that play a major role in building the overall engagement in the company.
That being said, here are some relevant questions about the leadership that you should include in your employee engagement survey:
How comfortable are you in interacting with your supervisor(s)?
Is your manager transparent in providing feedback?
Does your manager provide enough creative freedom to do your job?
Do you feel appreciated for a job well done?
How satisfied are you with your supervisor?
Questions about Job Satisfaction
Ask your employees questions about their job satisfaction levels. Are you doing everything you can to improve the employee experience? Do your employees find their jobs meaningful? If given the chance, would they switch in a heartbeat?
Let’s take a look at the 5 critical engagement questions that can uncover some interesting things about the levels of engagement:
On a scale of 1-5, how satisfied are you with your job?
Do you find your work meaningful?
What would you change about your job?
Do you feel that you’re being compensated and rewarded enough?
Would you consider switching your jobs for slightly higher pay?
Remote Work Questions
The COVID pandemic changed the landscape of life, especially as it related to work. Suddenly, offices were unable to open, businesses were classified as essential and non-essential, and a legion of employees began working from home.
When the dust settled, many businesses were left facing the prospect that remote work was here to stay. Many employees didn’t want to return to work in an office, as working from home had benefits that made employees question if a return to the office was a good idea.
Some questions that HR departments may find beneficial when discussing remote work with employees include the following:
Have you worked remotely before?
What were some of the benefits and some of the challenges you faced?
Why do you feel that working remotely is beneficial for you and your team?
How will you and your team communicate?
How technically capable are you and do you feel comfortable handling IT issues remotely?
How will you stay focused on important tasks and deadlines?
Health and Safety Policy Questions
One of the most important aspects of the job with which Human Resources is tasked is the health and safety of employees. HR must ensure that the company invests and engages in a culture of proactive health and safety in order to prevent, as much as possible, injury, illness, and other issues.
With the onset of COVID throughout the world, health and safety took on a whole new look and HR departments were again given the task of leading the charge when it came to policy change. Some of the questions HR departments are now faced with asking employees as they relate to health and safety include:
What do you feel the company can do to promote health and well-being?
Do you feel our cleaning and sanitation practices that are currently in place successful in helping to manage illness and injury?
Do you feel there are ample opportunities to promote health, such as hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap?
Do you feel comfortable with the safety policies the company has in place? If not, what would you like to see added or removed?
Mental Health Policy Questions
In the midst of global unrest, pandemics, and political instability more and more people are experiencing mental health issues. HR Departments have been scrambling as they begin to try to create a policy that is nurturing and mindful of the mental health challenges many people face while honoring the needs of the company. Some of the questions HR departments are currently grappling with asking employees include the following:
Do you have an understanding of our mental health policies and benefits?
Would you feel comfortable coming to your HR department regarding mental health challenges you may be facing?
Do feel senior leadership supports mental health issues and challenges?
Does your manager prioritize mental health with your team?
Do you feel supported in handling your mental health challenges?
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Questions
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) issues are of growing concern, and HR departments are at the forefront of addressing and creating company policies. DEI topics for HR departments to ask employees include things such as the following:
Do you feel there is an unrecognized bias in our workplace?
Do you feel comfortable with the meaning of diversity, equity, and inclusion as stated in the HR handbook?
Do feel there is stereotyping present in our workplace?
Do you feel the company, especially management, is doing enough to fight prejudice in the workplace?
Does leadership at our company display cultural awareness and dedication to belonging?
Do you feel safe and comfortable in your workplace?
9 Employee Engagement Survey Tips from Experts
To help you create effective employee engagement surveys, we asked HR leaders and CEOs to share their most important insights. From assessing manager-employee relationships to understanding team dynamics and diversity, here are the top nine questions these experts recommend and the valuable insights they can provide about your workplace.
Assess Manager-Employee Relationship
A recent study by The Workforce Institute at UKG found that the manager is as influential on mental health as a spouse or life partner—even more than a doctor or therapist. Understanding how employees feel about their managers is paramount in your data collection.
One compelling question is the manager's NPS, "Would you recommend your manager to others?" A constellation of rating questions around this idea can be beneficial, such as "My manager creates a safe environment," "My manager meets with me on a regular and frequent basis," "My manager has communicated clear expectations for me," and "My manager has held a career development conversation with me in the past six months."
Answers about an organization's people leaders yield essential insight into the employee experience and the health of the manager/employee relationship. In that relationship, the aspirational culture becomes the truth or is revealed as nothing but a poster.
Jimmy Rose, Employee Experience, Culture, and Talent
Evaluate Teamwork and Collaboration
"Do you enjoy working with your team?" is a vital question. It will help you determine whether the employees enjoy coming to the office, collaborating with team members, and sharing ideas. The answer to this question can be negative as well.
I find this is a crucial question because, with its answer, you can know much more about the company. You don't work alone in a company; it is impossible, even if it is a small firm. At least 5-10 people will always be in the workplace. Every employee has the responsibility to take the company to new heights. In this situation, enjoying the company of each other is crucial.
For example, some employees can also complain about team members, colleagues, and managers. Many employees explain why they don't enjoy working with a team or any colleague, while many just end their answer with "NO" or "Yes." This question will give you a clear idea.
Saikat Ghosh, Associate Director of HR and Business, Technource
Understand Communication Preferences
How do you prefer to receive company information about "X"? Employees prefer information from trusted sources. They'll want to hear benefits info from HR, day-to-day expectations from their supervisor, and company strategy from senior leadership.
Responses to the question will reveal which spokespersons and channels the company should use to communicate with workers. It will also show breakpoints in the current internal communication system.
Rick Alcantara, Principal, Rick Alcantara Consulting
Determine Resource and Tool Needs
One crucial query to include in employee engagement surveys is whether employees have the resources and tools to perform their job effectively.
The responses can aid HR managers in determining if the employees possess the necessary technology, resources, and tools to thrive in their roles.
You can use this data to enhance procedures and allocate resources to boost employee productivity, minimize frustration, and improve overall job satisfaction.
Tracey Beveridge, HR Director, Personnel Checks
Explore Employee Tenure Expectations
Employee engagement and tenure are inextricably linked; the most engaged employees tend to stay the longest. Conversely, unengaged employees often have one foot out the door and almost always explore exit options.
You indirectly inquire about their current job satisfaction by asking whether they expect to remain in their position for five years. Disengaged employees are unlikely to envision themselves working in the organization long-term, a sentiment that will be reflected in their responses.
Furthermore, this question also reveals whether individuals view their jobs as long-term careers or mere stopgaps between roles. If employees rarely consider staying long-term, it may suggest that your organization isn't well-set up for progression, necessitating a rethink of career trajectories.
Chloe Yarwood, HR Manager, Test Partnership
Promote Open Communication
The most powerful question on our employee survey is: "Do you feel you can share your thoughts and opinions without fear of negative consequences?"
We know we can't change our workplace overnight, but if we could, we believe that open communication is the place to start. It's the backbone of a healthy workplace culture.
Sure, asking the question gives carte blanche for our employees to tell us how they feel. Truthfully though, when our team knows their opinions are heard and valued, they will be invested in their work. We have found that real change only happens when we open the lines of communication.
By asking this one question, we have gained invaluable insights into our organization's culture and have identified those "diamond in the rough" opportunities that have made us thrive.
Ashley Kelly, CEO and Co-founder, CultureAlly
Assess Value, Utilization, and Satisfaction
Some vital questions to ask are:
1. Do you feel valued in your role?
2. Do you feel your skill sets are fully utilized in your position?
3. How satisfied are you at company x, y, and z?
And always include comment boxes so that employees can elaborate if they wish.
Jarir Mallah, HR Specialist, Ling App
Evaluate Ideas and Opinions' Importance
One of the most important questions to ask in employee engagement surveys is, "Do you feel that your ideas and opinions are heard and valued?"
Asking this question can allow us to gain valuable insights about our workplace, such as whether our employees feel confident contributing to company discussions if their opinions carry weight in decision-making, and if they feel like a crucial part of the team.
In addition, the responses to this question can help us identify areas where we may need to improve our communication channels and ensure that our employees feel their voices are heard. By addressing any gaps or challenges identified through this question, we can create a culture of open communication, collaboration, innovation, and inclusivity, leading to higher employee engagement.
Sanya Nagpal, Head of Human Resources, Leena AI
Understand Team Dynamics and Diversity
As a small business owner, I rely on regular engagement surveys to provide essential information about the status of my hires. The most important question I ask is, "Which team member do you work best with and why?"
I like to ensure that collaboration is dispersed; I want to see various answers to this question because that means I've succeeded in building a diverse team with strengths that match well with a range of clients. Sometimes HR is worried when alliances form in the office, but I've seen the value in pair-ups. Sometimes two is better than one.
But if everyone is singling out the same worker for the same reasons, that can signify an imbalance. It might mean I've hired too many similar personalities, risking tunnel vision and stagnation.
Linn Atiyeh, CEO, Bemana
Final Thoughts On Engagement Surveys
Never before has the role of Human Resources been so important. HR Departments across the nation are educating employees, implementing peaceful practices, and creating a sense of well-being in the workplace that carries positively into the private lives of our nation’s citizens. An employee engagement survey is only as good as the change that it brings.
If you’re not acting on the employee feedback and taking the steps to turn things around, there’s no point in conducting surveys.
Remember – you can leverage a modern human resource tool, such as GoCo, to better manage your workforce. With GoCo’s employee survey workflows, HR managers can easily customize and trigger employee engagement questionnaires to streamline the company’s survey processes.