Glossary of HR Terms

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Employee Engagement Survey Questions

Crafting Effective Employee Engagement Surveys

What Are Employee Engagement Survey Questions?

As an HR professional, you know how vital employee engagement is to organizational success. Asking your workforce for their opinions can be a powerful tool for measuring and analyzing your team’s engagement levels — especially when you have effective employee engagement survey questions.

Your organization is likely surveying employees in one way or another, whether through pulse surveys, annual surveys or at certain stages of the employee life cycle, such as hiring or offboarding. These surveys are more effective when they’re thoughtful, deliberate, and aligned with business objectives.

Learn more about employee engagement surveys and the questions that will yield the data you need to drive positive change.

Employee Engagement Survey Questions 101

Employee engagement surveys are an important tool for measuring workforce satisfaction and motivation levels. Many companies default to annual surveys, often consisting of 50 to 75 questions. Multiple-choice or sliding-scale questions are the most common types of questions used because they produce clean data while being easy for employees to answer quickly. You can augment these fixed-response questions with open-ended questions, allowing employees to share specific complaints or recommendations in the form of qualitative data.

When designing an employee engagement survey, ask questions that focus on the key elements of engagement, such as job satisfaction, commitment, motivation, and their sense of belonging. By asking questions that are meaningful, thoughtful, and tailored to the organization’s needs, employers can gain valuable insights into employee attitudes and beliefs.

Design questions to elicit honest and candid responses that can provide meaningful feedback. Avoid ambiguous or vague questions that can introduce confusion or produce inaccurate, incomplete, or unhelpful answers. It’s also important to keep questions concise, as respondents may become overwhelmed by long questions and less likely to answer them. This is especially true for long annual surveys, where employee fatigue is already a concern.

Well-crafted employee engagement survey questions uncover what matters most to your workforce. This, in turn, helps you understand how to create a culture that energizes and engages employees so they not only stay with your organization but also thrive.

3 Benefits of Employee Engagement Surveys

HR processes and programs play a fundamental role in engaging employees. Performance management, for example, is intended to empower employees to be the best versions of themselves at work. But if employees aren’t engaging in performance management processes or don’t find them useful, then you’re missing a huge opportunity to drive business value.

Here are some of the ways you can use survey results to drive HR’s impact.

Assess the State of Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is a leading indicator of workforce retention. The more engaged employees are, generally speaking, the less likely they are to leave. Employee survey questions that are designed to measure employee engagement can help you anticipate and address potential turnover.

Use statistical techniques to analyze the data generated by the survey. Many employee engagement survey tools include basic analysis and visualizations that illustrate patterns and trends over time. From there, you can target the causes of low engagement.

Once you have the data, there are many valid ways to slice and dice it to determine areas of focus. For example, look at the distribution across demographic groups. Perhaps LGBTQ+ employees are less likely to report seeing clear career paths in the organization. This could indicate underlying patterns of discrimination in recommending these employees for career development — or, at the least, a need to audit current practices and support systems. Equipped with the data, you can dig deeper and address gaps in career-growth opportunities for LGBTQ+ employees.

Identify Your Key Drivers of Employee Engagement

Employee engagement surveys serve numerous functions, including highlighting what you’re doing well, what needs improvement, and the key drivers of employee engagement in your workplace.

No two companies offer the same employee value proposition and experience. Once you know your company culture’s unique differentiators, you can emphasize those qualities in your employer branding, processes, and programs — using the best features of your culture to attract and retain employees.

Consider looking at how employees responded to questions about working hours, job satisfaction, work-life balance, and related topics. These answers can tell employers what motivates employees and how they can improve their work environment. Aggregating employee responses helps you see where they agree on factors promoting high engagement. From there, you can maintain and improve on those factors.

For example, if trends in ‌survey data reveal that employees are pleased with your professional development opportunities, you know that you shouldn’t radically change or cut those offerings without a strong justification. By contrast, if surveys repeatedly report dissatisfaction with communication about company initiatives, it’s time to reassess internal communications, including C-suite access and availability.

Collect Employee Feedback on Processes and Programs

Employee engagement survey data can provide invaluable insights into how HR processes and programs are perceived and experienced.

If ‌survey data reveals dissatisfaction with HR processes, programs, or technologies, you have a head start on improving these offerings — or at least a window into what’s not working so you can investigate further. Surveys are a great way to gather relevant, specific employee feedback on organizational processes or policies that affect the overall employee experience.

Perhaps employees don’t have a line of sight into career progression, for example. They commonly report that their managers can’t or won’t discuss career goals. With that information, you can develop a better communication plan, address behavior by certain managers, or even revisit your overall performance management process.

4 Employee Engagement Survey Best Practices

Following these best practices will help your employee engagement surveys be more productive as you monitor and address engagement concerns.

Communicate Your Purpose

To effectively communicate the purpose of employee engagement surveys, provide clear and concise information detailing your desired state (high engagement) and the benefits of that state for employees. Explain the importance of assessing engagement, thank employees ahead of time for their feedback, and show how the survey will be used to make meaningful changes.

Additionally, consider delivering content related to your intentions throughout the survey process. These resources can help employees better understand the survey and how their feedback will be used. Space out your content delivery to protect employees from the consequences of information overload.

Keep Employee Engagement Surveys Short

Long surveys can be off-putting and contribute to incomplete or inaccurate results, as employees tune out or don’t participate.

To keep surveys short, ask only the most important questions that are also likely to provide actionable insights. These questions might assess employee engagement and job satisfaction through answer choices that are clear and data-driven. Avoid asking too many open-ended questions, as they contribute to longer surveys, delays in getting responses, and even reduced participation.

Consider using a survey platform that allows employees to participate on their own time and on whatever device is most convenient for them. This can remove a barrier to participation.

Draft Unbiased Questions

Ensure your employee engagement survey questions are unbiased. To do this, identify any potential sources of bias in the questions you’re asking. Consider the language and tone you use, the context, and the amount of detail you’re providing. Avoid being overly casual or using terms that are often associated with specific identities or could have multiple meanings.

Use simple language, and avoid loaded or leading terms. Asking whether your employee experience is superior to that of competitors, for example, can elicit a lower quality of answers than a neutrally worded question asking employees to rate your employee experience on a scale of one to 10.

Think about the purpose of the survey — are the questions relevant to what you’re trying to achieve and the overall goals of the business? If you need follow-up or more detailed feedback for specific areas, that’s a good place to allow for optional qualitative feedback.

Guarantee Safety and Anonymity

You can learn a lot about the state of employee experience from these surveys, but only if employees feel comfortable communicating their true feelings. Anonymized responses help employees feel safer about giving honest and complete feedback.

Make sure employees know that responses will be collected confidentially, with data presented in aggregate form to prevent the unintended identification of specific employees and responses. If you’re using a third-party provider or software for these surveys, for example, tell employees that so they’re informed and hopefully more comfortable taking part.

3 Employee Engagement Question Examples

If you’re not sure what questions to ask or how to ask them, here are a few examples that can help you assess engagement and happiness levels.

How likely are you to recommend our company as an employer to friends or family members?

This question is used to determine your employee net promoter score, or eNPS. It’s a snapshot of how well you’re doing in employee experience, because happy employees are likely to enthusiastically recommend you to people they know. You can use a sliding scale to assess this response, along with an open-ended follow-up for respondents to provide context.

Do you feel that your contributions to the company are valued and appreciated?

This question evaluates whether employees feel that company leaders, colleagues, or managers care enough to recognize and appreciate their contributions. Responses to this question inform your assessments of employee motivation and satisfaction.

Are you provided with the resources and support you need to be successful in your role?

This question evaluates whether employees feel they’re being supported at work — that they aren’t being set up to fail by expectations that outstrip their capacity to achieve. These responses help you identify areas where resources are insufficient and harm employee engagement. Adding an open-ended component to this question helps you pinpoint places where you can meaningfully improve employee support.

Drive Success With Employee Engagement Survey Questions

Employee engagement surveys are a powerful tool for HR leaders who want to measure satisfaction, motivation, and retention in the workforce. The data generated by employee survey questions helps you tailor employee engagement strategies to better meet the needs of your people — and help them stick around.

Want to learn how to build engagement and drive action in your HR programs? Download our ebook today!